Family that sought shelter in SWFL returning to Hawaii after lava destroyed home

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While more and more people flee from Hawaii’s Big Island due to the ongoing volcanic eruptions, one mother and her kids—who sought shelter in SWFL—are heading back.

“It’s gone. Ten acres. We’ve been there for nine years and we had an organic farm. The lava took everything,” said Fernanda Paulsen about her home in Hawaii.

Paulsen watched as it burned down.

“We’ve seen slow flows in the park, in the Volcano National Park, and you can see the lava pretty close…but nothing like that. Like eruptions, lava going 100 feet up—never seen anything like that before,” Paulsen said.

The next thing her family had to deal with were the earthquakes.

“Then the earthquake came, the really strong 6.0 earthquake, and I was there with them and it freaked me out. And I was like, ‘OK, that’s it. I need to leave,” she said.

Luckily, Paulsen and her family escaped the island safely with some important family treasures in hand.

“I got pictures, and some clothes and some documents, and that’s pretty much it. Everything else is gone,” she said.

Paulsen and her two daughters arrived in Fort Myers in May. After three weeks in SWFL, they’re now returning to Hawaii to be reunited with Paulsen’s husband, Dustin. He stayed behind to help friends evacuate and protect their homes.

Paulsen hopes her return home will show others that areas of the Big Island are safe to explore.

“The area where the lava is actually happening…it’s just like a small strip. It’s in a very small community. The whole island is very safe to go. I would encourage people to go because we need you there. So don’t be afraid to go to Hawaii or the other islands just because this is happening,” Paulsen said.

At last check, Paulsen and her daughters were in Seattle on their way to Kona. Her family is renting a house once they return home.

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