Published: Sun, May 13, 2018

President Trump Declares Kilauea Eruption A Major Disaster

President Trump Declares Kilauea Eruption A Major Disaster

On May 3rd, after days of tremors shook the area as magma moved underground, fissures opened up in the middle of the neighborhood, and lava started bursting out of the ground.

Since May 3, the State of Hawaii and Hawaii County have spent more than $400,000 in emergency funds to protect life and property from lava flows and earthquakes that have occurred in the Kilauea East Rift Zone. All are a striking reminder of the planet's inner workings.

Hawaii Governor David Ige has requested federal disaster assistance as he said a mass evacuation of the lower Puna District, where Leilani Estates is located, would be beyond current county and state capabilities. Lava from a May 3 eruption has spread almost a dozen miles from the volcano's caldera near its peak into the Kilauea east rift zone, destroying almost three dozen homes in the Leilani Estates near Hilo and forcing about 1,700 residents to flee.

At a meeting on Thursday night, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory scientist Steve Brantley told residents that magma created by a 1955 eruption was being forced to the surface by Kilauea.

But a Flagstaff volcanologist said not to worry, that an increase in tourism traffic would be a bigger hassle than anything volcanoes in the area could cough up. Geologists are warning that the volcano's summit crater could soon begin spewing huge boulders and ash.

Authorities widened their resident-alert radius Friday, cautioning people in lower Puna to remain vigilant in the event of a possible gas emission and a volcanic eruption of Kilauea.

So far, more than 2,000 people from areas around near the volcano's wrath have already been evacuated.

"What will take a turn for the worse in terms of hazard is if hotter, fresher magma makes it to the surface, and that could be what is coming", Neal said on a conference call.

Lava from the Kilauea eruption has gobbled up streets, cars and homes, with at least 36 structures destroyed so far.

The CEO of the Hawaii Tourism Authority, the agency that markets Hawaii to the world, said Kilauea is being monitored around the clock to provide the public with the best information.

State lawmakers are considering holding a special session to help those affected on the Big Island.

Ron Peters, 59, knew it was time to leave his home in the Opihikao community, 2.6 miles from Leilani Estates, when fruit trees and other vegetation began to die in the rotten-egg-smelling clouds of sulfur-dioxide gas. "And we don't want to seem callous and inconsiderate in our messaging and our promotion of the island", he said.

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