'Dashed dreams': As toll of lava grows, residents wonder how they'll pick up the pieces

2 new eruptions confirmed on Big Island; another home destroyed
Published: May. 4, 2018 at 2:53 AM HST|Updated: May. 8, 2018 at 12:48 PM HST
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PUNA, HAWAII (HawaiiNewsNow) - Living in Leilani Estates is a risk. Cheryl Griffith knows that.

"That's the gamble that you take – it's to have all this beauty. And, it's a volcano. You got to just know that you live on an active volcano," Griffith said.

But there's really no preparing yourself for the scope of destruction underway in the Puna subdivision, where authorities say at least 31 structures, including 26 homes have been destroyed by lava eruptions that show no signs of abating.

"It happened fast, you know the cracks and everything, happened pretty fast; usually it's a little bit slower," she said. "And I just, you know, a lot people have dashed dreams, and they're not gonna recoup."

Sam Knox, also of Leilani Estates, said all he can do as he waits to hear if his home survives is appeal to a higher power.

"If there's a God out there maybe he can help us out," he said, adding that seeing the lava soaring into the sky into his own neighborhood was surreal. "It was incredible. It was fuming. It was roaring. It was thundering. Rocks were flying out of the ground," he said.

Jeremy Wilson waited in a long line of cars Sunday to try to get back to home in Leilani Estates.

He said the evacuation orders came down when he was at work, so his wife and kids grabbed whatever they could and fled.

"Everything we freaking own is down there," he said. "It would be nice to get some of my family treasures."

Hershel Hood describes the last few days as a "bad dream."

"I just didn't believe any of this," said the Leilani Estates resident. "We're taking it day by day and I've accepted this is the way it is."

Leilani Estates resident Ikaika Marzo is trying to come to terms with his new reality.

"So much feelings that are going through my mind right now. I'm speechless," he said Friday, as he watched eruptions continue to threaten homes in his neighborhood. He added, "She's not done. This is not over. There's too much lava in the system."

Hundreds of Leilani Estates residents have been forced to flee the subdivision as eruptions continue, spewing lava into streets and sending noxious fumes into the air. Many left with little more than the clothes on their backs.

"When I bought here 14 years ago, I knew that this day might eventually come, but I had no idea the reality of (it) ... It's sinking in now, for sure," said one Leilani Estates resident.

With his family safely evacuated and his possessions packed in a box, he headed out of the subdivision Thursday.

"My family and my pets are safe. That's what I really care about. I mean, the rest is just stuff. We can make more money and get more stuff. My family is safe. That's the main thing," he said.

Meanwhile, authorities are also warning residents in other high risk areas to be prepared.

"People should be prepared to leave have a bag packed and all of their medications they need," Hawaii County Councilwoman Eileen Ohara said. "If they have pets they should be have crates ready for the pets."'

This story may be updated.

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