"We don't have an estimate yet, but safe to say that hundreds of homes were lost last night", Janet Snyder, a spokeswoman for Hawaii county, said Tuesday.
All but a few of the estimated 500 inhabitants of Kapoho and adjacent Vacationland development are now believed to have fled their homes, an agency spokesman said. The lava pushed into beach lots in Kapoho, which has about 350 homes and Vacationland, which has about 150.
At least 117 homes have already been taken by lava in the Lanipuna Gardens and Leilani Estates neighbourhoods where lava surfaced more than a month ago. The area is primarily home to vacation rentals, but there are a lot of permanent residences there too.
Officials are still working to get an accurate count of damaged structures, but a flight by the U.S. Geological Survey shows blackened lava inundating a section of coastline that was once covered with lush forest and dotted by homes.
That latest toll of property losses from Kilauea's ongoing upheaval, which entered its 35th day on Wednesday, far surpasses the 215 structures destroyed by lava during all 35 years of the volcano's last eruption cycle, which began in 1983. When the super hot lava hits the ocean it produces a chemical reaction that produces a blend of hydrochloric acid, steam, and tiny particles of glass.
Pomerleau said all of the vacation homes he did handyman work for are gone.
Residents of the Puna District in East Hawai'i are reeling from this latest blow, many displaced, seeking shelter with friends, relatives, and in community facilities throughout the island. Kim and Okabe live in Hilo, the county's seat, which is more than an hour drive from the Kapoho area.
"The difference between our June 3rd and June 5th images are dramatic, with lava completely filling Kapoho Bay by yesterday afternoon", a spokesperson for the company said in a statement. One home was lost in a separate 2014 lava flow in the commercial hub of Pahoa. "And I don't know what to do", she said.
The state is issuing citations to those who needed to be rescued from mandatory evacuation areas.