Hawaii volcano destroys dozens of homes
Pahoa, Hawaii – Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano has destroyed 26 homes since it began spewing lava hundreds of feet into the air last week, and residents who evacuated don’t know how long they might be displaced.
The decimated homes were in the Leilani Estates subdivision, where molten rock, toxic gas and steam have been bursting through openings in the ground created by the volcano. Another four unspecified structures were covered by lava, officials said in revised figures issued Sunday.
Some of the more than 1,700 people who evacuated were allowed to briefly return to gather medicine, pets, and other necessities. They will be able to do so each day as long as authorities believe it is safe.
Amber Makuakane Kane, 37, a teacher and single mother of two, said her three-bedroom house in Leilani Estates was across from a fissure that opened Friday. At the time, “there was some steam rising from all parts of the yard, but everything looked fine,” Makuakane said.
On Saturday, she received alerts from her security system that motion sensors throughout the house had been triggered. She later confirmed that lava had covered her property.
Makuakane grew up in the area and lived in her house for nine years. Her parents live in the same subdivision.
“The volcano and the lava – it’s always been a part of my life,” she said. “It’s devastating … but I’ve come to terms with it.”
Lava has spread around 387,500 square feet (36,000 square meters) surrounding the most active fissure, though the rate of movement is slow. There was no indication when the lave might stop or how far it might spread.
“There’s more magma in the system to be erupted. As long as that supply is there, the eruption will continue,” U.S. Geological Survey volcanologist Wendy Stovall said.
Cherie McArthur wondered what would become of her macadamia nut farm in Lanipuna Gardens, another evacuated neighborhood near Leilani Estates. One of the year’s first harvests had been planned for this weekend.
“If we lose our farm, we don’t know where we’re going to go. You lose your income and you lose your home at the same time,” said McArthur, who’s had the farm for about 20 years. “All you can do is pray and hope and try to get all the information you can.”
About 250 people and 90 pets spent Saturday night at shelters, the American Red Cross said.
The number of lava-venting fissures in the neighborhood has grown to as many as 10, Stovall said, though some have quieted at various points. Scientists expect the fissures to keep spewing.
The lava could eventually be channeled to one powerful vent while others go dormant, as has happened in some previous Hawaii eruptions, Stovall said.
Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, has been erupting continuously since 1983.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.