Frustrated Puna residents not ready to vote

Some Puna residents on the Big Island are expressing frustration over the recovery efforts after Tropical Storm Iselle.

Thousands lack basic necessities and some feel the state’s priorities are not in line with theirs.

Governor Abercrombie will travel to the Big Island Wednesday to survey the damage.

The Red Cross is sending over more supplies, as fallen trees have trapped some residents in their homes without power.

All of this is happening, while the State Office of Elections is moving forward with its plans to get Puna residents to vote on Friday.

But it’s a plan that could be derailed by a lawsuit.

The close race between Democrats Brian Schatz and Colleen Hanabusa for the U.S. Senate seat is separated by 1,635 votes with Schatz in the lead.

But Rep. Hanabusa says the residents of the Big Island have to focus more on recovery rather than casting a ballot, and she will file a lawsuit to block the election scheduled for this Friday at Keonepoko Elementary School.

A spokesperson for the Schatz campaign said in a statement that the “…Office of Elections and the County Clerk from Hawaii Island are in a far better position to evaluate how to proceed with this election than anyone else.”

But some Puna residents say they are in no mood to cast a ballot.

“Honestly, I don’t think anyone cares about that now,” said C.J. Higa, who lives in the Hawaiian Paradise Park Subdivision in Puna. “First of all, it seems a little too soon. I would say first and foremost, we have a safety issue on our hands.”

“To be honest with you, it hasn’t even come up, the the voting part,” said a resident of the Nanawale subdivision in Puna, who preferred not to have KHON2 use his name. “I haven’t heard anybody mention that word. They’re too busy trying to survive over here.”

Others who spoke with KHON2 in the Vacationland community echoed the struggle just to get by with little in the way of help.

“Not really much,” said Sean Sullivan. “Red Cross came over yesterday if we needed anything. Someone came here bringing a bag of ice. Before that, there was nothing for 3 days.”

“We don’t have power and internet service,” said Ren Sanford. “And HELCO estimated a range of two to 3 weeks.”

“Those homes that were fortunate enough to be built 10 feet and higher survived,” said Cam Cavasso. “But a lot of people lost their places, the road is torn up. This is bad.”

KHON2 will be on the Big Island to follow the Governor as he surveys the storm damage.

And while the State Office of Elections says it is proceeding with its plans, we will also have an update on whether Hanabusa’s lawsuit derails the election.


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