Royal Gardens Subdivision Residents Stay Put Despite Continuous Lava Flows

Dean Schneider
Dean Schneider


It's a spectacular and frightening sight.

Bright, orange, oozing lava, burning everything in its path in the Royal Gardens Subdivision in Puna.

Even tiny insects sense the danger and scurry to safety, but Jack Thompson and his dog are working to save the only road in and out of the area.

"Trying to recover the last road, this is the last access road. The other got taken last night," said Thompson.

Thompson and Dean Schneider are the last two residents living in the remote area.

"I enjoy my privacy. Since the 11th of January, I had about 20 people come by my house. In 4 years, I never had that many people come by," said Schneider.

They've noticed more helicopters, and the large lava flows moving closer and closer to their homes, but they still don't see any reason to leave.

"It's very easy to outrun lava flow than to outrun a car. It's all a matter of perception," said Schneider.

"It hasn't been a problem really," said Thompson. "I'd say it's the safest place I'll ever live. It's safer than the mainland because they have forest fires over there."

Lava has long plagued the area. Since the 1980's, many left their homes for good.

However, the last residents of this Big Island Community say they plan to stay put and stay calm in the face of danger.

"Yeah I am here for the duration and for whatever happens. If Madame Pele takes my house, I'll leave with my toothbrush," said Thompson.

Big Island Civil Defense officials said they have warned Thompson and Schneider about the danger and even suggested that they evacuate.

Since sunday, the lava has destroyed three abandoned structures.