Between the toxic gasses, fissures, and molten lava, it seems like the Kilauea eruption is a never-ending emergency. This is the reality that Hawaii's Big Island is facing after the May 3rd volcanic eruption. After a 6.9 magnitude earthquake, and subsequently a volcanic eruption, at least 117 homes are destroyed and thousands are displaced, not including the recent numbers in Kapoho and Vacationland. Although these were far from Waiakea's facility and source, they have impacted many. The community is in need of our help, and as this is one of the pillars of our brand, we are doing everything we can to give it.
What's going on with the Kilauea Eruption?
Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes! Rising 4,190 feet above sea level, Kilauea makes up most of the southeastern side of Hawaii's Big Island. It has had more than 60 recorded eruptions in its current cycle and has been erupting on a continuous basis since 1983. On May 3, 2018, a 6.9 earthquake struck the Big Island, causing the volcano to erupt and spew lava into nearby communities in the Puna & Pahoa areas. Mandatory evacuations were called for the Leilani Estates, Lanipuna Gardens subdivisions1, and most recently, Kapoho Bay. You may think, "wait, if Kilauea has been erupting since '83, isn't this normal?" The answer is, no. The devastating thing about this eruption is that instead of flowing into the forest or other uninhabited land, the lava is flowing into neighborhoods, destroying homes and closing off roads in its path. As of late, the lava from the Kilauea eruption has covered about 5.5 square miles-- 4 times the size of New York's Central Park2.
Sadly, as the lava pushed into Kapoho Bay and reshaped the coastline, more evacuations were called in this area before lava closes off the community's last escape route. Some chose to stay in this area, despite the fact that there is no power, cell reception, landlines, or county water. Others were airlifted out after being trapped in the area while collecting belongings. Unfortunately, officials are no longer able to airlift people out of the area due to the very real danger of the eruption. Anyone left in this area is officially off the grid, according to officials. Evacuations are mandatory and those who choose to stay will be arrested. As of Tuesday, June 5th, the scenic Kapoho Bay was fully engulfed in lava and residents are shocked that this beloved place where they used to snorkel and enjoy tide pools is now gone. There are about 350 homes in Kapoho and 150 in nearby Vacationland, so residents are only expecting the toll of destroyed homes to go up. The lava has not stopped yet and is continuing its path into the ocean.
What are some other dangers of the eruption?
Keep in mind that with a volcanic eruption, comes constant and sporadic fissures and toxic weather conditions. Vog, or volcanic smog, is a haze created when toxic sulfur dioxide gas and other volcanic pollutants mix with moisture and dust in the air reducing visibility. Ever heard of "Pele's hair?" Pele's hair, a reference to the Hawaiian goddess of fire, are sharp, thin strands of volcanic glass fibers. If it gets into anyone's eyes or inhaled, it could cause injury. Additionally, residents were also warned of airborne volcanic particles that can cause eye, skin, and respiratory irritation.
How can we help?
Unfortunately, this devastating natural disaster has destroyed hundreds of homes, leaving people with nowhere else to go. What felt like just moments after the big eruption and the start of mandatory evacuations, community members rallied together and started the organization, Pu'uhonua o Puna, to coordinate donations and get important information out to those affected. Waiakea dropped off 4 palettes of water for those who needed drinking water.
If you're based on the Big Island and would like to help, you can visit their drop off. It's located at their center on Highways 130 in Pahoa. Donations can be dropped off between 8 AM and 8 PM.
If you're not based on the Big Island, many organizations have made it easy to donate remotely. AT&T launched a text-to-donate campaign specific to eruptions in Puna. All you have to do is simply text "VOLCANO" to 50555. Just like that, you'll donate $10 to the Hawaii Community Foundation-- 100% of the money will go towards helping victims of the Kilauea eruptions. You can also donate directly to the American Red Cross Hawaii Chapter by going online or calling (808) 739-8109.
There are tons of other way to help the victims of the volcano whether you're on the Big Island or not. For a full list of ways to help, click here.