The Leopard

Hawaii Residents Suffer from Volcano Eruption and Earthquake

Lava+from+a+fissure+eruption+on+Kilauea%E2%80%99s+east+rift+zone+consumes+a+home%2C+then+threatens+another%2C+near+Pahoa%2C+Hawaii%2C+on+May+6%2C+2018
Lava from a fissure eruption on Kilauea’s east rift zone consumes a home, then threatens another, near Pahoa, Hawaii, on May 6, 2018

Lava from a fissure eruption on Kilauea’s east rift zone consumes a home, then threatens another, near Pahoa, Hawaii, on May 6, 2018

Bruce Omori/ Paradise Helicopters

Bruce Omori/ Paradise Helicopters

Lava from a fissure eruption on Kilauea’s east rift zone consumes a home, then threatens another, near Pahoa, Hawaii, on May 6, 2018

Kristi Harris, Hard News Editor

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Residents of the Big Island in Hawaii were ordered to evacuate last Thursday due to the eruption of Kilauea volcano and the forecast of an earthquake that struck on May 4, 2018 with a magnitude of 6.9. However, many people refused to leave their homes and stood by to watch their houses get taken down and their streets get engulfed by lava. Those who have evacuated, went to local community centres, Pahoa Community Centre and Keaau Community Centre. Highway 132 at Pohoiki Road is closed solely as evacuation route.

 

As a result of the eruption, multiple fissures have been rapidly forming. The first one that bursted was located on the eastern side of the island and the rest continued to form along a northeast-southwest line. Hot steam and noxious gas rose from the vents before molten lava broke through the ground and shot into the air.

 

One of the first five houses consumed by the lava was owned by Amber Makuakane, an elementary school teacher and single mother of two.“There was some steam rising from all parts of the yard,” Makuakane explained to the Associated Press, “but everything looked fine.” She safely evacuated with her two kids, Alana, 6 years old, and Aaron, 4 years old, on Friday. A fellow teacher, Kailina Lewis started a GoFundMe page for her with a goal to raise $100,000 and in just a couple of days, has raised $63,044.

 

Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator, Talmadge Magno told reporters on Sunday that the flows from the fissures are lengthening which indicates that the eruption is progressing. “There’s no sign of slowing down,” Magno said. “We had some pauses yesterday, but it seems like there’s a lot of magma under the ground.”

 

“As the eruption progresses, there will become a preferred pathway for the magma to go through,” says Wendy Stovall, a volcanologist with the United States Geological Survey, “Some of the outer vents along this fissure line will start to close up and congeal because the lava is going to essentially harden.” According to Stovall, once this happens, lava from the remaining vents can shoot even higher – reaching up to 1,000 feet.

 

The Observatory said in a statement Tuesday, “This morning, two new fissure segments broke ground. The first opened in a forested southwest of Leilani Estates about 9:30 a.m. and was active for only 3 hours. The second opened about 12:20 between older fissures 10 and 11. By 3:15 p.m., both new fissures were inactive but the west end of fissure 10 was steaming heavily.”

 

As of Wednesday morning, 14 fissures have formed, some lasting for a couple hours and spewing over 300 feet in the air, and 2,000 people have evacuated. The burning lava has destroyed about 36 structures, most of them being homes. Highway 130, the main road to and from the area, has been severely damaged, lava seeping from the cracks that were created by the earthquake. Fortunately, there have been no reports of fatalities or serious injuries.

 

The lava itself was not the main cause for danger to the residents, rather  the noxious fumes from the volcano could be the greatest threat to the public health. “Sulfur dioxide gas can be so toxic and thick in some areas that it can be fatal, especially to those who have respiratory illnesses,” Rep. Tulsi Gabbard said, “The wind can push [the gas] in different directions, so that’s a very serious concern given the high levels, and, you know, people don’t necessarily have the kinds of protective gas masks that they would need if they were right in the thick of this gas.”

 

Scientists have anticipated the possibility of more eruptions and earthquakes that could continue for months to come.

 

The last time Kilauea had a severe eruption was in 1924 and resulted in one fatality, a photographer who got too close to the action. Prior to this, in the late 1750’s, Kilauea erupted unexpectedly and killed 80 people. Kilauea is one of the youngest volcanoes on the Hawaii island. It is believed to be the most active in the world and has been erupting continuously since 1983.

 

The American Red Cross opened shelters at the Pahoa Community Center and Keaau Community Center for the evacuated residents of Hawaii. The Pahoa pool is still open, but being used as a hygiene center for evacuees. There are also information centers set up at the Sacred Hearts Church hall for those who have questions or concerns. They will also provide social service information for the evacuees from Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions.

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Hawaii Residents Suffer from Volcano Eruption and Earthquake