Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim confirmed Thursday that more than 600 homes had been destroyed by lava from Kilauea volcano since it erupted early last month.
"It hurts like hell. What we lost is the most beautiful place on earth. Over 600 homes destroyed by lava rivers in Hawaii," Kim told a press conference.
According to Kim, lava destroyed close to 500 homes in three days at Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots in Pahoa, including the mayor's own house in Vacationland. Pahoa is a major community in Hawaii county with a population of roughly 1,000.
"The past few days have got to be one of the saddest in my long life that I've experienced," Kim said, pledging that officials at the state and federal levels will work as a team to cope with the disaster, "eliminate all the bureaucracy delays," and "get it done as soon as possible."
Also present at the press conference, Hawaii Governor David Ige said state will allocate 12 million U.S. dollars to help respond to the eruption, covering expenses ranging from overtime work to food and equipment. He added that county employees have been working around-the-clock for almost 40 days.
"I don't think any of us knew it would get to this point," Ige said, "Obviously things in the last few days have escalated significantly with fissure 8 continuing to put out a lot of volume of lava. It certainly has escalated the impact and devastation of the area."
Kilauea volcano has been erupting nearly continuously for about five weeks. The volcano is one of the youngest and most active volcanoes in the world. It is a shield-type volcano that makes up the southeastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii.