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Hawaiian Volcano Crisis

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Hawaiian Volcano Crisis

Arvind Pillai, Staff Writer

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Hawaii, a tropical island state revered for being a paradise in the United States, is currently facing a disaster affecting one of its towns. On May 3rd, 2018, the Kilauea volcano on the Big Island erupted, spewing dangerous fumes, red-hot lava, and caused constant fissures and earthquakes. The initial impact of the eruption was monumental, destroying over 35 structures, 26 of which were homes, in its rampage. This eruption is one of the more destructive that Hawaii has seen in recent years, so much so that local long-time residents are also commenting on how disastrous it has been. While this volcanic outburst is not on historic terms, it will be remembered for decades by the residents who live near it.

The Kilauea volcano has casted a grim shadow over Leilani Estates, a subdivision in Hawaii county, hosting over 1560 residents. In an interview with CNN, Jordan Sonner, a recent arrival to the estates, said, “at the time, I understood it[the eruption] as a possibility,” she said. Many residents knew this possibility all too well, and were actively taking a risk by living in this area, mostly due to how the lava of the volcano was flowing in the opposite direction for over 30 years, lowering concerns. “I’m a blue-collar man and I worked for my house and now my house might be gone,” Steve Gebbie, a long-time resident said to reporters. Gebbie, just like the other 1560 and counting residents, were forced by the Hawaii Civil Defense organization to evacuate the area. The defense organization also sent officials to help with this process and has issued a statement to prevent tourists from entering the affected area. Luckily for Gebbie, residents were later allowed to revisit their homes, if they were still standing, to retrieve any important belongings or pets they left behind.

As the red-hot lava continued to spread and claimed more homes in its wake, the volcanic eruption caused earthquakes. They happened at a very high frequency – to the point that on average, one earthquake happened every hour. These earthquakes were typically low magnitude, but one tremor reached a whopping 6.9 magnitude, definitely enough to leave some structures in shambles. These frequent earthquakes happened for two days around the rift zones of the impact. Alongside this, the eruption also spewed a bunch of volcanic gases such as sulfur dioxide, which can burn the lungs and throat if inhaled in too much. These gases wafted around the impact zone for a long time before dissipating, further stopping the residents from coming back to their homes.

A volcanic eruption seems sudden, volatile, and most importantly, far away to most people. But for the residents of the Leilani Estates in Hawaii, the eruption hit a bit too close to home.

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Hawaiian Volcano Crisis