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

Bowser residents protest marine sewage outfall plan

Veenhof and staff endures harsh criticisms at public information meeting

Qualicum Beach society goes to bat for insect eaters

Two bat houses built to monitor population in Heritage Forest

Parksville reopens portion of wetland

City undertakes review, remediation of liability concerns

Is Steve Nash Vancouver Island’s best athlete of all-time?

As Captain Canada gets ready to enter basketball’s Hall of Fame it’s time to debate his legacy

Who is Vancouver Island’s greatest athlete ever?

We want to know, you get to choose in a 64-athlete tournament bracket

VIDEO: After the floods, comes the cleanup as Grand Forks rebuilds

Business owners in downtown wonder how long it will take for things to go back to normal

SAR scaling back in Kilmer search, but friends will keep looking

Search for 41-year-old Cobble Hill dad hits six-day mark

Rachel Notley to skip premiers conference to focus on pipeline deal

Kinder Morgan has ceased all non-essential spending on the Trans Mountain pipeline project until it receives assurances

B.C. tech company will power Uber Elevate

Moli and Uber announce research and development partnership.

Olympian sues USA Swimming, saying it failed to protect her

Ariana Kukors Smith alleges her former coach Sean Hutchison began grooming her for sexual abuse at the age of 13

Defence minister thanks troops for B.C. flood relief work

Harjit Sajjan says not only was military response quick, support from locals has been ‘tremendous’

Still no sign of missing father in Cowichan Valley

Search group for Ben Kilmer now stands 40 SAR volunteers and another 100 friends and concerned community members

Couple survives being buried in mudslide on B.C. highway

The couple, from Saskatchewan, were en route to Nelson when a tree fell in their path

‘So grateful:’ Injured Bronco hockey player glad he’s alive, works on recovery

Ryan Straschnitzki was badly hurt in the accident: a spinal injury, broken ribs, a broken collar bone, and punctured lung

Most Read