Hawaii Farmers risk their lives to keep livelihood

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KAPOHO, Hi. — Farmers in Hawaii still have some viable crops following constant activity at Kilauea volcano.

Farmers are risking their lives in hazardous conditions to harvest those crops.

Jenny and Rusty Perry own Kapoho Grown Farms. A river of fast moving lava blocks access to their house and their orchards.

In order to get to their crops, they travel unpaved back roads, go through multiple gates, and spend hours dodging the lava river.  The Perry family have longans and papaya fields, lychee, apples, and bananas.

“Everybody was frantically trying to get everything out,” said Jenny Perry.

People left their homes weeks ago, leaving behind ripe, profitable fruit.

“We missed a few harvests because we didn’t know that we could make the journey. My neighbor said to go through my property … if you have to cut the fence — cut the fence. So we did, ” said Jenny.

Above them, helicopters are flying surveying the damage. The Perrys and two employees work a few days a week. They always head back home before it gets dark.

“I would much rather be here, but we don’t want to spend the night here anymore, because we can’t tell what’s going to happen. We can see the flow going down, but there’s nothing to say it has to go in that direction,” said Rusty Perry.

Hawaii’s state government estimates the losses to farming operations are at more than $14 million.

The Perrys plan to harvest  indefinitely, but the river of lava needs to crest its banks — or the air quality will wipe out the crops.

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