DENVER (CBS4)– The American Red Cross of Colorado and Wyoming has sent volunteers to help shelter people evacuated due to the volcanic eruption in Hawaii.
More than 2,000 residents of the Big Island remain under mandatory evacuation as Kilauea continues to threaten nearby communities. With additional lava flows threatening homes, volunteers were called to help manage shelters on the island.
“I got the call to come out Monday morning,” said Dennis Hoyt, who lives in Walsenbur. “I said, ‘I’m surprised you’re not getting folks from California, but sure I’ll go.’”
Hoyt, who also happens to be the mayor pro tem of Walsenburg, is one of two Red Cross volunteers now in Hawaii. He told CBS4’s Kelly Werthmann via FaceTime he left from the Colorado Springs airport Tuesday afternoon. He landed on the Big Island that evening.
“By about 7 o’clock the next morning I was setting up and managing a shelter,” Hoyt said.
Hoyt is managing one of three Red Cross shelters on the island. He’s making sure the hundreds of evacuees that are using the shelter have food and a place to sleep, as well as any comfort they need during the stressful time.
“Like back home in Colorado when there’s a wildfire, there’s always people who are wondering what’s happening to their house,” he said.
Using his cell phone, Hoyt showed CBS4 the shelters that’s just a few miles from Kilauea. He explained from time to time he can feel the rumblings from the active volcano.
“Just a little while ago we had something that sounded like thunder,” Hoyt said.
Earlier Thursday morning, a large plume of ash and smoke shot upwards of 30,000 feet into the air. Hoyt explained the biggest concern though is the toxic sulfur dioxide that’s seeping from the fissures caused by the volcano.
“Our shelters are set up so we’re not downwind from where the gasses are,” he said. “We also have masks if needed and have a safe place for people to be.”
Despite the volcanic activity, Hoyt said most people on the island are going about their day as normal. That said, he is happy is there to help those in need.
“A volcanic eruption is a big deal, but the world isn’t ready to come to an end down here,” he said.
Hoyt said he will continue to help with the Red Cross on the Big Island for two weeks.
Kelly Werthmann joined the CBS4 team as the morning reporter in 2012. After serving as weekend morning anchor, Kelly is now Covering Colorado First for CBS4 News at 10. Connect with Kelly on Facebook or follow her on Twitter @KellyCBS4.