A GoFundMe account has been set up to help Phil and Lunel Haysmer, former longtime Humboldt County residents who founded Eureka’s Many Hands Gallery, after their home and nearly everything they own was destroyed when a lava fission opened on their street in the Leilani Estates on the Big Island.
Astra Burke, who worked for the couple for 12 years before buying their Old Town gallery when they retired in 2012 to move to Hawaii, is helping organize the online effort, which can be found here. Burke also has a collection box at Many Hands where people can donate.
“Literally, they have their car and their dogs and the clothes they were wearing,” she said.
Complicating matters, Lunel Haysmer was in the hospital due to a health emergency when the evacuation orders came.
Gone amid the lava flows were many personal items, including a lifetime-worth of art that was both created and collected by the couple and numerous priceless artifacts acquired during their decades together.
“Losing the art we have both made and collected along with journals, photographs, books and tools will be the hardest,” a May 6 posting on the couple’s blog reads. “In the meantime, we have each other and our dog-kids and an awesome community of neighbors and friends.”
According to news reports, the fission that opened near the couple’s home was spraying lava fountains 230 feet in the air.
Burke said the Haysmers are still waiting to hear whether insurance will cover any of their losses and she hopes the GoFundMe account will at least help the couple, which was so involved with their adopted Humboldt home for more than 20 years, get back on their feet.
For the time being, the couple is staying with people who have opened their home to evacuees from the Kilauea eruptions while they prepare to start over.
“We have spent our entire 32 years together creating — we don't plan to stop now — it may just take a while and we may go at a slower pace,” the Haysmers’ blog reads. “We also thought this would be our last big adventure — but now that we own a one-acre lot of pahoehoe, looks like we are due for yet another one.”