After a vent from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano opened up in June, it sent a thick river of lava on a slow march toward the village of Pahoa on the Big Island’s east side. Several months later, the federal government on Monday declared the lava flow to be a major disaster, but to many local residents, such events are just something to abide, like blizzards in the U.S. Northeast or sandstorms in Arizona.
“The lava flow is very unpredictable, but Hawaiians have always lived with volcanoes,” Eric Johnson, a teacher at the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science, located down the road from the lava flow, told Time. Kilauea has erupted continuously from its Pu’u’ O’o vent since the 1980s. The sight of glowing lava inching down a hillside hasn’t surprised most locals like it would outsiders.
One resident of Pahoa told Time that it wasn’t the volcano that worried him, it was the federal government’s recent involvement there that made him uneasy. “The lava has been inching forward for 30 years, now the National Guard is here with humvees and flak vests like it’s a war zone,” he said.
Lava from Kilauea has approached communities before, sometimes with disastrous results. The nearby town of Kalapana was overrun by lava from the volcano in the early 1990s that destroyed and partly buried most of the town.
Despite the latest lava flow having crossed onto a residential property in Pahoa last week, no homes have been destroyed, and officials said the lava flow had slowed by Monday. Residents of about 50 homes were evacuated. Here are several images of Kilauea’s latest lava flow near Pahoa.
The Kilauea volcano lava flow near the village of Pahoa, Hawaii, Nov. 2, 2014. Hawaii civil defense officials say the lava flow that's been inching its way down hill toward the village of Pahoa for weeks is still very much active but that it hasn't advanced in the past 48 hours. The lava began flowing from the Kilauea Volcano on June 27.Photo: Reuters
Senior Airman Rory Valle, 291st Combat Communications Squadron, Hawaii Air National Guard, checks the temperature of hardened lava at the Puna lava flow near the village of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii, Oct. 30, 2014. The leading edge of the flow has paused about 185 yards (170 meters) from Pahoa Village Road, the main thoroughfare through the old sugar plantation. Photo: Reuters
The lava flow from Mount Kilauea swirls past a graveyard near the village of Pahoa, Hawaii, Oct. 29, 2014. Photo: Reuters
A fallen tree leaves a hole in the lava flow from the Kilauea volcano near the village of Pahoa, Hawaii, Oct. 31, 2014. Photo: Reuters
Residents and onlookers look out toward the area where lava flow from the Kilauea volcano has reached the town in Pahoa, Hawaii, Oct. 29, 2014. Photo: Reuters