HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In the low light of the darkening Puna dusk, the vents that never stop steaming make the harsh reality that is the aftermath of the 2018 eruption look almost dream-like.
But in a dream, the sprawling home that sits on a private road off Highway 130 near Leilani Estates probably wouldn’t be abandoned.
In a dream, the well-kept garden out front that was once filled to the brim with ti plants and palms and lauae ferns probably wouldn’t have collapsed into the dozens of massive cracks that appeared during the eruption.
And in a dream, the doghouse that faces the nearby road — once home to the canine sentinel that stood watch over this sweeping property — would still be occupied.
The vents are actually thickest across the street. Cracks in the ground the size of surfboards emit steam relentlessly, filling the air with white wisps that dissipate as they get further from the source.
Someone has stuck a cooking thermometer in one of the cracks closest to the road; on this afternoon, as the sun sets on the other side of the Highway 130, it reads 170 degrees.
Heat is noticeable even from the road, where the few cracks that once posed a threat to drivers have long been filled in.
The family that once called this place home has long since moved out, the home rendered unlivable by the steam.
Friends of the family say parts of the home have literally begun melting away. Plastic fixtures and layers of exterior paint aren’t built to sustain exposure from extreme heat, after all.
There are cracks in the ground on all four sides of the doghouse; the one in front of it is about four or five feet wide. A slab of rock that’s been split apart is straddled atop it at an angle.
The ground behind it is now about a foot higher than it used to be.
Like the one on this property, dozens of homes in the area that survived the eruption but have become unlivable – because of steam, or damage from acid rain, or from cracks in the ground that appeared during the volcanic activity.
Residents of homes like this one don’t know when, or if, they’ll be able to go home. They just hope – like they would in a dream – that the day will eventually come.