Chloé Nabavi – France
Kilauea erupted last week, and the increase in volcanic activity has forced a dozen vents, bringing with it spewing lava, earthquakes and toxic gas that made the island peaceful, now unrecognizable.
On April 30, the floor of a crater on top of the Kilauea volcano collapsed, sending its pool of lava back underground and causing small earthquakes. Days later, the ground split open on the east of Leilani Estates. Molten rock burbled and splashed, then shot dozens of feet in the air. Soon, another such fissure had formed a few streets to the west. For days, hot steam and noxious gases rose from the vents, before magma broke through, with some lava fountains shooting as high as 330 feet into the air.
Images of lava destroying homes, cars and power poles have been increased. The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency called it “active volcanic fountaining.” Some residents said it was Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess, coming to reclaim her land. About 1,700 Leilani Estates residents were ordered to evacuate because of “extremely high levels of dangerous” sulfur dioxide gas. Lava isn’t like water, snow or mud. It’s liquid rock, so it’s heavy, sticky and moving underground. And it’s also nearly 2,000 degrees.
Residents’s frustration and anxiety have been felt after being forced to evacuate their homes. Many of them fought with uncertainty, not knowing whether their homes are intact or have been engulfed in lava flows. On Monday night, Hundreds of evacuees have been waiting out at local churches, shelters or elsewhere on the island, seeking answers.
Most people’s orientation on this kind of thing comes from movies. However, they forget how unrealistic it is. Even among evacuees, the attitude toward Kilauea’s latest explosion has seemed to be a blend of sadness, acceptance and, for some, respect to Mother Nature.
In interviews and in online forums, several residents have invoked Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess said to live inside Kilauea, when asked about the fate of their homes. Currently, it is impossible to say when the island will be safe for its residents.