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.

Priorities!

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.