Hawaii tourism officials are hoping visitors will continue to flock to the state’s largest island, despite continued eruptions at Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano and ongoing preparations for the possibility of a larger explosion,
Travel industry executives noted to the that the majority of the Big Island is free of eruption threats from Kilauea
Still, there are concerns.
President Donald Trump approved a request for a disaster declaration, meaning federal assistance will be available as the state copes with damaged roads, parks, schools and water pipes.
Geologists warned that Kilauea could erupt violently, shooting ash and boulders the size of refrigerators into the air at speeds of more than 100 mph and releasing toxic emissions over the upcoming weeks.
Dramatic Before-and-After Images of Hawaii Lava Destruction:
Here are some before and after images illustrating the impacts this community is facing.
Geologists with the U.S. Geological Survey say if the receding lava were to seep below groundwater level under the caldera of the volcano, it would raise the risk of an explosion, Hawaii News Now reported. The rush of water could trigger steam-driven eruptions, which could cause a blast of ash and steam and release emissions of sulfur dioxide.
“Similar to what happened in 1924, when there were these large explosions, and those are more vigorous and there was more energy involved, so larger fragments can be blown out in greater distances,” USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologist Janet Babb told KHON-TV.
As a result, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park announced much of the park would be closed Friday to keep visitors at a safe distance if Kilauea has an explosive eruption.
In the Leilani Estates neighborhood, where most of the 1,700 evacuees reside, a total of 16 fissures have opened in the ground – one of which formed early Saturday. So far, lava has destroyed 36 structures, 27 of which were homes, according to officials.
Among the evacuees were members of the Kealoha family, who moved to Hawaii after they were forced from their Northern California home by wildfires. Now, they’re on the run again.
“I was gonna raise my daughters here, but it doesn’t look like it was going to turn out to be the scenario we hoped,” Kelena Kealoha told Hawaii News Now.
Those who evacuated included some residents, like 76-year-old Edwin Montoya, who chose not to obey previous orders to leave their homes. Montoya told the Associated Press that his decision to stay until Tuesday was twofold: he wanted to care for the animals on the family farm and keep an eye out for looters who might want to take his belongings.
But even after more than a dozen fissures opened in the ground, it still wasn’t enough to convince some Leilani Estates residents to leave their homes.
Tour guide Scott Wiggers said officials have come to his house urging him to evacuate, but he still hasn’t left.
“I’m in the safest part in the subdivision,” he told the AP. “There’s no threat to my house whatsoever.” Isn’t it ironic that”:..There’s no threat to my house whatsoever
(Until the flow of Lava streaming towards your home defies your expectations.)
Wiggers also explained that he lives on the outer edge of the evacuation zone, and is ready to leave if he decides his life is in danger.
“I am packed. My truck is loaded. I’m not a dumb-dumb. If I see a threat, I’m out of here,” he added.
The problem lay in the fact that is that the directions of future lava-flows could be unpredictable depending on where the newest fissures developed.
Nature is unpredictable despite the hubris of humans thinking that being the Apex Predator automatically comes with the ablility to control nature it is exactly when we hear or read comments like: I’m in the safest part of the island or if I sense of see anything wrong I am outta there.
Well that exactly when the most well thought out escape scenarios go sideways.
So far, the lava flows have consumed more than 117 acres of land, according to a Hawaii County release.