Hawaii volcano erupts causing residents to leave their homes


The smoke given off by Mount Kilauea moved to cover local areas surrounding it.

Macee Trottner, Ranger Review Reporter

On May 3, 2018, Hawaii Mount Kilauea volcano erupted and flooded local streets and residential areas on the southeastern part of Big Island, Hawaii. Residents of the area were encouraged to pack their belongings and abandon their homes.

The volcano delivered white clouds of steam and volcanic gases on Thursday, foreshadowing the eruption of the mountain. Around 4:30 p.m. local time, the volcano released a river of destructive lava flow underground. At this time, the residents were told to leave as the lava “began to spatter with eruption,” around 5 p.m., according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The bright red-orange lava was seen spewing from the cracks in the ground. USGS reported that “white, hot vapor and blue fumes were being emanated.” Local residents reported that the “sounds of grinding rocks was deafening and filled the air.”

“It sounded like there were rocks in a dryer that were being tumbled around,” said Jeremiah Osuna, who lives near Leilani Estates, one of two subdivisions evacuated. “You could hear the power of it pushing out of the ground.”

An alert from the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency mandated that the evacuation zones widen and that all residents, several hundred to a thousand, living in the Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens evacuate their homes immediately. These subdivisions are located in the district of Puna which sits about 25 miles away from Kilauea itself.

A state of emergency was also issued by the County of Hawaii’s acting mayor and Gov. David Ige activated Hawaii’s National Guard to help with evacuations, Hawaii News Now reported.
The eruption and lava flow posed little threat to people’s lives due to the monitoring and alert system that has been in place for years.

“It’s been handled very well,” Maija Stenback, a resident of Leilani Estates said. “Civil Defense has been saying they can’t predict it, but there’s a good possibility, so they made everybody very aware that this could happen. You know, pack a bag and be ready to leave.”

The eruption was said to have come hours after a 5.0-magnitude earthquake on the Big Island on Thursday morning. Janet Babb, a geologist with the Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory, reported that 600 smaller quakes had been generated by the magma flow of Kilauea since Monday, April 30.

“Earthquakes were happening every 10 minutes, it seems like. That was kind of unsettling,” Osuna told The Washington Post, adding that it was “nerve-racking” not knowing exactly where the eruption would occur.

The volcano stopped erupting about two hours after the initial eruption and only flowed about 33 feet from the fissure. Babb reports that “the inactivity does not mean that the event is over.” As of now, the residents are unaware of when it will be safe to return to their homes and do not know what will be left of their homes when they do return.