Hawaii volcano overwhelms neighborhood with river of molten misery

Posted at 8:14 PM, May 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-23 22:14:24-04

PAHOA, Hawaii — Hawaii’s volcano emergency enters its fourth week on Thursday, and there’s a possibility of a major eruption at any moment. Explosive bursts of lava, steam and ash are the new normal on the Big Island, and rivers of lava continue to threaten homes — as well as a geothermal electrical plant.

Leilani Estates, a neighborhood on the Big Island, is overwhelmed by a river of molten misery. Lava has burned and buried more than a dozen homes in the community, and 1,700 people have fled.

Some returned to broken homes and hearts, with giant cracks running through houses.

Active fissures push out new lava every day, most of it flowing into the Pacific Ocean away from people. Some lava, however, menaced a geothermal plant. Workers stabilized 11 wells to prevent the release of uncontrolled toxic gases. 

Officials called the plant "essentially safe," but many residents lost trust in the plant long ago. 

"I feel we were lied to. We were told things were taken care of, and then we find out they were not taken care of," said resident Sabine Nagasawa.

Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, shows no sign of quieting down.

"I think the biggest worry for us is based on the geologic history of this volcano — is that the current fissure activity could actually become a bit larger," said geologist Steve Brantley from the U.S. Geological Survey.