Hawaii’s Current Volcanic Disaster
By Katelyn Dearborn
Edited By Camryn Champlin
On Thursday, May 3, at around 5:30 p.m. local time, Hawaii’s volcano, Kilauea, dramatically erupted, only a few hours after one of Hawaii’s strongest earthquakes in more than a decade had struck the Big Island. Its jets of lava can be seen spraying over 150 feet (45 meters) up in the air, as well as steam-driven explosions that have sent “ballistic projectiles” like ash clouds and rocks into the sky. The eruption has spewed lava through into over tens of thousands of square feet of what used to be lush forests, bustling towns, and residents’ homes all across the southeast side of the island Hawaii, prompting many mandatory evacuations. The volcano has also opened up many other dangers, such as fissures (picture to the right) and more noticeable earthquakes, across other parts of the island. Nearly dozens of people were left stranded in the areas cut off by lava, Hawaii authorities announced last Sunday. Hawaii Civil Defense Service officials said that they went through the neighborhood to warn residents of their last chance to evacuate before the lava steamrolled through the neighborhood.
Hawaii officials say some people choose to stay in the area, which now has no power, cell reception, landlines or county water, mostly because these people have nowhere else to go. At least 87 homes have been destroyed by the Kilauea volcano eruption in the four weeks since lava first began flowing, making this eruption one of the longest in history. It’s estimated that the lava has covered an area of 5.5 square miles -- four times as big as New York's Central Park -- according to USGS (United States Geological Survey). No one is too sure when this disaster will end, or even slow down for that matter, but Hawaii is and has been preparing for the worst.
The USGS warns that, “this eruption is still evolving and additional outbreaks of lava are possible” and that, “at any time, activity may again become more explosive, increasing the intensity of ash production and producing ballistic projectiles very near the vent”. Only time will tell whether this disaster will ever calm down in time before the whole island of Hawaii is swallowed up.