Volunteers building additional evacuee shelters at church

  • Below: Kimo Kahele of Kimo Kahele Construction.

  • Dion Maeda, pastor Connect Point Church. (HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald)
  • Kimo Kahele Construction employees help build tiny homes Saturday in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

  • Left: Hilo Coast Construction employees help build tiny homes Saturday on a 1-acre lot owned by Connect Point Church in Hawaiian Paradise Park. (Photos by HOLLYN JOHNSON/Tribune-Herald)

HILO — Construction of more transitional shelters is underway for people displaced by the Kilauea eruption in lower Puna.

On Saturday, about 80 volunteers began constructing 11 micro-units on a 1-acre lot owned by Connect Point Church in Hawaiian Paradise Park. The church and its partners are using the same design used for the first transitional shelter at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Pahoa.

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Dion Maeda, pastor of the Hilo-based church, said he hopes to have the transitional village — which will include bathrooms, showers, laundry space and a kitchen area — ready for use by the end of the month. The micro-units are 120 square feet in size, with materials and design provided through HPM Building Supply.

“The hope is this is a steppingstone,” he said. “It will give them a bridge to a more permanent solution. This is definitely temporary, but it’s better than living at the (community) shelters.”

Twenty micro-units were cleared for occupancy a week earlier in Pahoa. Brandee Menino, CEO of Hope Services Hawaii, which manages the project, said eight people, and a few pets, had moved in by Saturday.

Community shelters in Pahoa and Keaau were housing 244 people as of Tuesday. Updated numbers weren’t available Saturday.

Maeda said the church has a memorandum of agreement with Hawaii County for the transitional village, located on 21st Avenue near Kaloli Drive. A sign listed more than 30 partners, including businesses and nonprofit agencies that are donating supplies and labor.

Kimo Kahele, a church member who owns Kimo Kahele Construction, is one of the managers of the project.

“I think it says a lot that when disaster strikes everybody pulls together,” said Kahele, who was a volunteer at the Sacred Heart shelter.

“We’re just sharing our gifts and talents to help out those that’s hurting,” he said.

Maeda said it’s also about putting their faith into practice.

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“We can’t just sit in a church and preach love,” he said. “It’s got to be action.”

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.