Hawaii Gov. David Ige speaks at a community meeting, Monday, May 7, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii. Two new cracks in the ground emitting lava and gas have opened up in a Hawaii community where multiple structures have burned down. Residents of the evacuated subdivision are being allowed to check on their properties from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day until further notice. Officials say residents must be prepared to leave on short notice. (AP Photo/Haven Daley)

Despite risks, volcano offers affordable piece of paradise

Two new cracks in the ground emitting lava and gas have opened up in a Hawaii community where multiple structures have burned down.

The slopes of Kilauea offer a lush rural setting and affordable land that contrasts sharply with Hawaii’s more expensive real estate, but living on one of the world’s most active volcanoes comes with risks: A dozen lava vents have opened in streets of the Puna district and 35 structures have burned down.

It was difficult to immediately tell from aerial surveys how many are homes and how many are other uninhabited structures, said Wil Okabe, acting mayor of Hawaii County.

Cheryl Griffith’s Leilani Estates subdivision was ordered to evacuate after lava from Kilauea volcano burst through cracks in the ground, destroying homes. But the 61-year-old did not leave.

As lava crawled down Leilani Road in a hissing, popping mass, Griffith stood in its path and placed a plant in the crack in the ground as an offering to the Native Hawaiian volcano goddess, Pele.

“I love this place, and I’ve been around the volcano for a while,” Griffith said. “I’m just not one to rush off.”

Related: Hawaii volcano destroys dozens of homes, forces evacuations

The Puna district is a region of mostly unpaved roads of volcanic rock about a 30-minute drive from the coastal town of Hilo.

Puna has thick jungle as well as dark fields of lava rock from past eruptions. The gently sloping volcano dips from its summit to Puna’s white sand beaches and jagged sea cliffs.

The region has macadamia nut farms and other agriculture along with multimillion-dollar homes with manicured lawns. Other houses are modest, sitting on small lots with old cars and trucks scattered about.

For many people outside Hawaii, it’s hard to understand why anyone would risk living near an active volcano with such destructive power.

But the people here are largely self-sufficient and understand the risks of their location.

Amber Makuakane, a 37-year-old teacher and single mother of two, lost her three-bedroom house to the lava. She grew up here and lived in the house for nine years. Her parents also live in Leilani Estates.

“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.”

Griffith said that is the hardest part of this lifestyle — they won’t be able to recoup losses. Moments later, an explosion came from a nearby burning house.

Homeowners use rainwater-catch tanks and cesspools or septic tanks. Many rely on solar power, and some live entirely off the electrical grid.

Related: No travel advisory for Canadians after Hawaiian volcano eruption

Sam Knox, 65, who was born in Hawaii and now lives just a few hundred feet from a volcanic fissure, said he decided not to leave, despite the nearby explosions and the lava being hurled into the sky and flowing across his neighbour’s property.

“It was roaring sky high. It was incredible. … Rocks were flying out of the ground,” he said. Much of the area filled with lava in just four hours.

Kilauea (pronounced kill-ah-WAY’-ah) is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and has been erupting continuously since 1983. There’s no indication when this particular lava flow might stop or how far it might spread. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey expect the flow to continue until more magma drains from the system.

On Sunday, some of the evacuees were allowed to return briefly to gather medicine, pets, and other necessities. They will be able to do so each day as long as authorities believe it is safe.

Knox has some belongings packed in case he has to make a fast escape.

“I decided to stay because I wanted to experience this in my life,” he said. “I’m ready to actually evacuate, but if I don’t have to evacuate, I’m just going to keep staying here because I don’t have no other home to go to.”

___

This story has been corrected to fix the spelling of Amber Makuakane’s name.

___

Associated Press writers Jennifer Sinco Kelleher and Sophia Yan in Honolulu contributed to this report.

Caleb Jones, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

In photos: Ready, set, roll!

Friendship Day Soap Box Derby excitement in downtown Salmon Arm

Semi-truck rollover reported on Trans-Canada between Salmon Arm and Sicamous

No injuries being reported, traffic down to single lane alternating

Salmon Arm Silverbacks on a hot streak at Bauer BCHL showcase

Shuswap skaters put up back-to-back wins against Victoria, Alberni Valley

Iconic Shuswap sternwheeler undergoing work for return to service

Sicamous business owner Mike Helfrick hopes to offer dinner tours on historic vessel

CSRD board approves pay increase for directors

Remuneration bylaw will come into effect after election of new board

Conservation officer frees B.C. deer from flotation gear mishap

BC Conservation Officer Service is reminding residents to keep backyards clear of entanglements

Ottawa to name new ambassador for women, peace and security, Freeland says

Chrystia Freeland also confirmed Canada would spend about $25 million to fund number of initiatives

‘A little bright spot:’ Ottawa residents rescue dog trapped beneath rubble

Freelance journalist says rescue of a dog trapped under rubble was happy ending amid chaos in Ottawa

B.C. deaf community wants different sign languages on federal accessibility act

Advocates also want Indigenous Sign Language to be recognized on the Indigenous Language Act

VIDEO: B.C.-born firefighter remembered by MP in emotional speech

Family asks first responders to look after one another in wake of suicide, growing concerns of PTSD

Airline has ‘close call’ with drone while en route to B.C. airport

Jazz Aviation reported the drone sighting near Vancouver to the RCMP and Transport Canada

Tragic accident claims life of B.C. toddler

Fundraising effort has been created to help mom and family

B.C. nanny charged with sex abuse of 3 children

Saanich Police seek potential victims of Johnathon Lee Robichaud from Central Saanich

‘I’m no quitter’ on climate change issues, McKenna says at G7 ministers meeting

David Suzuki says if McKenna believes what she’s saying, she too should quit

Most Read