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As lava continues to ooze, hundreds of Kilauea survivors ask for FEMA help

As lava continues to ooze, hundreds of Kilauea survivors ask for FEMA help

Meanwhile, two intrepid pot growers refuse to leave their crop.

From NASA, space station -

It has been over a month since the newest cycle of eruptions of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano started, and it is now officially the most destructive eruption in the United States since Mt. St.Helen’s collapse in 1980.

Hundred of the Big Island residents are now requesting financial assistance as a result of the destruction of homes and businesses.

More than 800 survivors of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano are seeking help from the federal government following five weeks of unprecedented turmoil and destruction with no end in sight.

…Last week, President Trump approved federal emergency housing aid for victims of the volcano. The approval came a day after Hawaii Governor David Ige formally requested federal assistance for the roughly 2,800 residents on the Big Island who have lost their homes.

However, there was no specific dollar figure sought by Ige or attached to the package Trump approved, though The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported that eligible homeowners and renters could get $34,000 each.

In addition to money for housing assistance, Trump green-lighted relief from other FEMA programs to help those affected by Kilauea. They include crisis counseling, unemployment benefits and legal aid.

The following video compiled by the US Geologic Survey provides an update, including images of a section of the magma chamber collapsing, reports of continuing seismic activity, and descriptions of 150-foot lava fountains.

One of the more recent challenges associated with Kilauea’s eruption is that wind shifts have caused the acidic, fog-like volcanic emissions (i.e., “vog”) to blow into the interior of the island, which has not been significantly impacted by the lava flows at the present time.

The winds were set to head northwest on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and possibly push the vog into the saddle and interior parts of the island, said a Hawaii Civil Defense message. The winds are expected to return to their normal trade winds pattern on Friday.

…When the sulfur dioxide reacts with the atmosphere, it turns into fine particles and then causes a haze in the sky that usually appears downwind from the volcano. Sulfur dioxide is a gas that can cause irritation to the skin as well as the tissues in the eyes, lungs, and nose and throat. It can lead to respiratory problems, according to the United States Geological Survey. The particles can induce asthma in those who have it. Even those who don’t suffer from irritation can experience headaches, flu-like symptoms and a lack of energy, according to the USGS.

As challenging as conditions are around Kilauea, two residents refuse to leave.

Dale Altman and his grandson Josh Doran live on a 5-acre (2-hectare) plot atop a hill on Hawaii’s Big Island by the erupting Kilauea volcano, where they grow medical marijuana. They are the last remaining residents on Halekamahina Hill, after two roiling streams of lava spouting from ground fissures and flowing into the sea, completely cut off the community.

Altman, 66, estimates they have $100,000 worth of marijuana in the field that they are harvesting. “That’s why we didn’t leave. It’s taken a lot of work.”

Altman says he doesn’t want to evacuate, leaving behind his home and marijuana crop with no income and nowhere to live. And atop the hill, the house is safe from the lava flows and its attendant fires.

“We’re not stupid. We thought this out,” Altman says.


I wish Altman and Doran much luck. If they and their crop survive the eruption, clever branding of their product might even make it more valuable.


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UnCivilServant | June 20, 2018 at 11:07 am

While I have sympathy for people who’ve lost their homes, I can’t silence that part of me that goes, “You knew that you were living on a volcano the whole time.” I know that makes me an evil person, but I am tired of paying for dream homes in marginal locations that get destroyed by the hazards of those places (storms, quakes, volcanos)

    maxmillion in reply to UnCivilServant. | June 20, 2018 at 11:20 am

    People who thought they had it all, living the dream in paradise.

    JohnSmith100 in reply to UnCivilServant. | June 20, 2018 at 12:44 pm

    I agree, they take the risk, and then they want the rest of us to pay. We need to start discouraging stupid behavior.

    Arminius in reply to UnCivilServant. | June 20, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    No, it doesn’t make you evil at all. But I would remind you that we all live somewhere where we are at risk of losing everything to a natural disaster. The whole country isn’t tornado alley, but there hasn’t been a single US state that has gone without tornadoes. Then factor in earthquake fault lines, areas prone to hurricanes, deadly blizzards, flood zones, etc. I can’t think of a single piece of real estate that isn’t at risk of something. And not a remote risk, like the Yellowstone Supervolcano violently erupting, because then we’re all screwed. I mean here in Texas even though I’m not in tornado alley I could lose my home tomorrow to one. F4/5 tornadoes aren’t common here. But if one were to rip through Dallas tomorrow (during rush hour) you’d be looking at a disaster on an almost unimaginable scale in terms of loss of life and property.

      “…if one were to rip through Dallas tomorrow (during rush hour)…”

      Of course, the hard part would be to calculate the difference in damage and destruction from any other rush hour in Dallas traffic.


    This has that … buy cheap property down by the airport, then complain about the noise … feel to it.

It is actually possible to get an insurance policy which covers loses associated with volcanic eruptions. While not volcano specific, comprehensive policies will cover the majority of losses from a volcanic eruption. The problem with this type of insurance policy is that it is usually very expensive and most people would rather take their chances than pay for the insurance.

However, it is becoming popular for FEMA to act as an insurer for people who suffer disastrous property loss. Maybe my homeowner’s insurance premium will go down.

    puhiawa in reply to Mac45. | June 20, 2018 at 1:21 pm

    The problem is if you have a mortgage the insurance will go there as you no longer have a lot to build on. There are three kinds of neighborhoods affected here, the old lots at Kapoho, once a stunningly beautiful bay that became a beach house neighborhood for old Hilo area families who bought cheap, but often ended up with an extremely valuable property as time went by. Nothing can replace that loss. The middle class homes in parts of Leilani where ordinary people could find a cheap lot. These likely had insurance and also mortgages. School teachers, State workers, police officers. These are the real loss. And the hippy and counter-culture places. These had no insurance and the residents no where to go. And for the most part won’t be missed.

      Mac45 in reply to puhiawa. | June 20, 2018 at 4:37 pm

      So, what? You pays your money and you takes your chances. Build on a flood plain and your house may be washed away and the land underwater, especially if the river changes course. Build on the beach, overlooking the ocean, and your property could be washed away in a storm. Build on the side of a mountain and an avalanche could render your property unusable. The same is true if you build in an earthquake zone. Wherever one chooses to live, one has to take potential problems into account. And we have insurance to mitigate these potential problems. The problem is the current trend of expecting other citizens to pay for YOUR lifestyle choices. FEMA and other disaster relief is supposed to help local governments provide temporary relief efforts, such as, debris removal, shelter, food and transportation. It is not designed to replace the victims’ damaged personal property.

        JohnSmith100 in reply to Mac45. | June 20, 2018 at 11:00 pm

        There is a huge difference in probability of different types of disaster and in severity of consequences. Those differences are reflected in cost and availability of insurance. People living on volcanoes are in very high risk situations. No one will write an insurance policy, and neither should we.

Latest stats: Almost 5,800 acres up to 50 feet deep in lava. Somewhere between 533 and 700 homes destroyed. One major lava river (fissure #8) moving downhill at 17 mph. Lava fountain spouting 180-250 ft. high. Four other fissures with minor output. No end in sight. 5.0 earthquakes every day, now at the Kilauea summit.

A volcano is unlike a tornado or a hurricane or hail or lightning or another weather phenomenon. You can’t know when/if or where it will strike.

Volcano’s don’t move. They’re unpredictable yes. But that’s no reason to think they will never explode. And this one has a reputation.

Help them get out and a few bucks for a few months but no replacement cash. They placed the bet and we’re not obliged in making their loss good.

A remarkable thing about the Hawaiian volcanoes is that they’re very active but also unusually well-behaved. Volcanic disasters you can simply walk away from are the stuff of tourist attractions, not disaster movies. We’re not talking Thera, Krakatoa, Mount Pelée or Nevado del Ruiz (my personal favorite, if one must have a favorite disaster), here. We’re talking about the kind of thing you can stop for selfies while escaping.

I grew up on a sandbar—something a forgetful glacier left lying around when it went home. Bedrock is six hundred feet down; everything above it has been slowly washing into the ocean for the past twelve thousand years. This is all perfectly well understood. When the Atlantic rollers get too close—and we all know they will, more probably sooner than later—we don’t expect the rest of the country to pay for it. The risk literally comes with the territory. It’s something we buy when we buy the property.

The most recent batch of 500 houses that went up were built between two expansive flows that have happened in my lifetime. It was always a matter of when, not if they would get destroyed by lava. The flow from fissure 8 basically filled in the empty void between the 1955 and 1960 flows, so in essence, it was building in a lava river valley. Two things we know about lava. It goes downhill, and it can’t be stopped. This is the only place on earth where it makes sense to live in a mobile home. Up until recently, lava moved about 100 yds an hr, so one could pick up and move with a 24 hr lead time. So anyone who invested more in infrastructure than a slab, a cistern, and a septic tank is, well, to be sensitive and all, a dumbass. But things are different now, and they will likely never be like they were before. Clearly the insurance companies aren’t stupid because they charged huge rates to insure against volcanic hazards because that is exactly what the math told them to do. So old stoner hippy dudes and chicks aren’t good at math, I guess In some ways, this is similar to the healthcare issues, where individuals who have chosen to take no responsibility for themselves now expect the rest of us to bail them out.

I’ve altered the old Marine saying to reflect this change. If it floats, flies, engages in sexual activities, or is located in the east rift zone: rent it.

    “…This is the only place on earth where it makes sense to live in a mobile home…”

    Well, during the floods of ’93, we lived in a mobile home park bordering a creek. We were *literally* on the highest point in the park, about 50′ above the elevation of downtown (which flooded about 5′ high on main street in the 50’s) We asked about flood insurance when we bought it (Yes, young and dumb). The insurance agent looked (because suckers willing to pay are worth encouraging) and determined we were in a flood plain.

    So ’93 happens, the waters rose, and the ‘down in the lower section’ mobile homes got moved fast (amazing how quick a trailer-semi and a team can get wheels under those things in the mud) Of course they moved them right back when things dried out…