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Valley native helps comfort Volcano evacuees in Hawaii

Linda Smith took this picture Tuesday. She lives about 20 miles from the crater, but says the impacts are being felt throughout the island of Hawaii.

An army of volunteers is helping comfort those who have been forced to leave their homes as a result of the Kilauea Volcano’s eruption on the big island of Hawaii.

Linda Smith, is among those pitching in.

She used to live in Fresno and Auberry.

“You don’t see it coming. It’s random. We had a ton of earthquakes, that’s the hardest thing to go through—was all the earthquakes,” she says.

Smith lives about 20 miles from the site of the eruption, but close enough to directly feel some of the effects.

Most notably, a change in the air.

“It’s kind of cloudy, smokey in the air,” she says. “There’s a hazy feeling. A smell of sulfur.”

She says the closest thing in California to a disaster of this magnitude would be a fire.

Having lived Auberry, she knows the importance of being ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

“You always want to be prepared with water. Rice is very big here, rice and spam. Canned food. Everything,” Smith says.

She’s been spending time volunteering with members of her church serving warm meals to those who have been displaced by the fire.

“There’s been lots of donations of clothing and food,” she says. “But the biggest thing they need is housing.”

Smith says the disaster has brought together people on the island.

So many are willing to volunteer, there’s a waiting list to help.

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