Family clings to dream of returning to their legacy home
Sulphurous fumes still rise from a 500-foot-long, 10-foot-wide crack that runs through the backyard and beneath Noah Friend and Shantel Pacarro’s house in Leilani Estates.
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Sulphurous fumes still rise from a 500-foot-long, 10-foot-wide crack that runs through the backyard and beneath Noah Friend and Shantel Pacarro’s house in Leilani Estates, an ongoing reminder of the devastating eruption a year ago that forced the family out of their beloved home.
Now unlivable, it is where the couple raised their two children — daughter Naiah, 13, and son Nainoa, 12 — and has sentimental value because Friend helped build it with his father as a child. Friend, who is in the construction trade, inherited the house when he started a family, and planned to pass it on to his children.
“Him putting his mana or handprint on the house meant a lot to him, and we raised our children there for 13 years,” said Pacarro, whose family has since moved into the Ainaloa subdivision outside Pahoa.
“It seems like it was just yesterday. The kids and I, we talk about it a lot. We have bad days, days when we are like, ‘I wish we were back home in Leilani.’ We just appreciate what we have now, because it could be worse.”
The family lost a close family friend from cancer around the same time they lost their property, which put their predicament into perspective, she said. Her son had told them at the time that while they couldn’t cure cancer, they could build a new house.
“We overlooked all the little things, things we should be grateful for,” Pacarro said. “Even though we lost something precious, we still have each other, and we still have our future to look forward to.”
The family still owns the Leilani Estates property but did not have home insurance and received less than $10,000 in disaster relief from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
“But a little is better than nothing, so we’re grateful for that,” Pacarro said.
The Moku Street home is still standing but is tilted to one side of the enormous crack. The couple have thought about filling the opening and even possibly purchasing land nearby and salvaging parts of the house to build a new home for their children.
“I don’t think you actually fully recover from something like this. You just deal,” she said. “You just accept what happened and you keep moving forward. We’re just so grateful that we’re here and we’re alive and we have each other.”