Puna residents dealing with no place to vote, plus heavy storm damage

pahoa orchidland storm

Because of the damage from Tropical Storm Iselle, two Big Island polling places were closed Saturday — one at Hawaiian Paradise Park Community Center and the other at Keonepoko Elementary School, both in Puna.

About 8,000 registered voters assigned to those areas will still get to vote by absentee ballot and, of course, some may have cast early ballots.

What is unclear is how soon those Puna voters who had no place to go today will receive their ballots or have them counted.

In spite of this, the election results statewide will still be released Saturday night, and those Puna votes will be added to the totals at a later date.

It is possible some close races at the end of the evening could change whenever those votes are added, which is certainly less than an ideal situation, but it’s what State Attorney General David Louie has decided to go with.

But voting may be the least of the problems for people in Puna.

Some homes were pushed off their foundations by the storm surge, others damaged by downed trees, which caused some road closures as well.

Another issue confronting Puna residents is low resources. With thousands without power, people are turning to using ice to keep their food cold.

Many residents stood in line to get ice today.

“Even as we speak, we have many people that are basically stuck,” said Darryl Olivera of Hawaii County Civil Defense, “and can’t get out of their subdivisions or homes because of downed trees, downed power lines, and stuck vehicles.”

Crews have cleared the main roads in Puna and are continuing to work in the area.

More ice is reportedly being sent from Oahu to help the people there.

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