I created this blog a couple months ago. It’s been a dream of mine for a long while now. A blog about my life in Hawaii, creating a permaculture homestead and being a mom. For some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to write a post. I didn’t know where to begin, or what would be interesting enough for some else to read my ramblings.
Then life got really interesting.
Six weeks ago, on may 1st, we started to experience earthquakes. A lot of earthquakes, numbering in the hundreds. Sometimes multiple per minute. We were warned that it was likely caused my magma intrusion in the lower East rift zone. As our homestead is in the LERZ we were advised to prepare for potential evacuations. I packed some important papers and some clothes I could fit in a tote. On may 3rd, we awoke to the news of cracks in the streets of our subdivision! When we went out to our street, we were shocked to find cracks in front of our neighbors driveways and even in their driveways.
We decided not to go pick fruit, at Kumu’aina, as we did every Thursday, and missed a great opportunity to hang with our dear friend Coconut Chris. Instead, we chose to start moving some things, starting with our plants in the nursery. Our dear friend, Samuel, came over and helped us load things on his way to the airport. He left us with his vehicle and hitch hiked to the airport. None of us had any idea what was about to happen next.
Just as we were finishing unloading all of our plants and fertilizers and discussing going home sooner than later, my phone rang. It was my mom calling, she was home with our son ‘Iolani (ee-oo-lah-nee). It was a phone call of nightmares. “It’s erupting on our street!” She yelled. My heart stopped, I looked at my fiancé, Alva, and the color drained from our faces. We hoped into our friends car and raced home.
As we approached Leilani estates, we shared a moment of utter terror, not knowing what we would see when we got there, or what would even still be there. Did my mom get the animals and the boy out? Thoughts were racing. We were met with road blocks that we went around and were escorted through some. Nothing could stop us from getting home to our family to be sure they were out. When we finally made the turn onto our street, Mohala st., we couldn’t believe our eyes. There it was, fissure 1, erupting hot magma into the sky, at the very place we stood just that morning observing the cracks with our son.
We found my parents and my son and drove away from our home in shock. We went to orchidland, where Alva’s family has 3 acres. For the last year, we had been planting things and occasionally camping out in the shed on the back acre. Now, we are living in the shed and spending most waking hours outside replanting our homestead dreams, trying not to dwell on the reality of the active volcano.
For the first week, I spent every moment on my phone trying to keep updated on the lava flow. For the next two weeks, I spent a little less time trying to stay updated. During the first week, the officials began letting residents back into the community to gather belongings, despite the number of fissures growing to more than 20 in the following couple weeks.
We went in a couple of times the first week we were allowed back in. It was such a surreal experience. The sound of the eruptions in the distance, the empty feeling,the anxiety, the secure feeling of home. Such an odd jumble of feelings. So I didn’t want to go back. I didn’t think it would flow our way, so I didn’t want to move things I didn’t have places to store. I would be going home. Everything would be fine. We got the cat, who had not been home during the initial evacuation, and the hives of honey bees. We got beds to sleep on and toys for our son to keep busy while we waited to go home.
On may 24th, I decided we should go in, I had a list of somethings I wanted and I just felt a need to go home. We walked through our yard, our beautify yard, and soaked it all in. somethings were sick from the SO2, but overall it looked pretty green. My oasis. We even harvested a rack of ice cream bananas that we had been watching for such a long time.
Observing the crack on our street.
We fit 84 potted plants in Samuels trailblazer and several more on our flatbed
Alice, happy to be rescued. It took 3 attempts, as cats don’t understand rescues.
This photo shows what the So2 will do to the environment. Where the two streets meet was my bus stop, throughout middle and high school and then public transport after graduation that was the place I would stand and wait. It is now complete covered and gone.
Flow going for the ocean. A river of lava.
Orchidland project. Building trellises to keep busy.
Calendula. New beginnings
After we loaded another impressive load of things in Samuels trusty SUV, we took a walk about a half a block to the house the officials had been using to view the most vigorous fissures just past the bottom of our subdivision. Huge. The fissures were so impressive and down right frightening. On our way out, we checked on a friend’s house one street up. A flow front had quickly moved and was only one house away from our friends home. I sent them a picture and left when the acid rain started to pour down on us and the kid who thought roasting a marshmallow would be cool.(very uncool)
That night I knew. Our friends house was consumed not long after dark. When I woke in the morning, it was all the way up that street to the driveway of the house right behind ours. My dad was there keeping me informed. The magma started to encroach on the boarders, but it stopped. So he went to help some neighbors get a car out. From their yard he could see the black smoke start to billow up. He rushed over. But there is nothing you can do but observe when it comes to lava. It was over. The house was on fire and the yard being filled. On the way out, he harvested our rack of rare fe’i karat bananas and drove away before it passed our yard and crossed the only rd out. That would have left him blocked in.
There would be no going home. No resuming our homesteading work we had poured our hears into for the last 7 years. Hundreds of fruit trees in the ground, some just starting to fruit, others never getting to see the day of their first fruits. A home full of tools and keepsakes. The only home our son has ever known. All gone. In what felt like a slow-motion-instant.
Although we are completely devastated, we are doing our best to look forward and stay humble and grateful. Many, many people from our community are camping out in crowded shelters, with no clear direction for the future. My heart hurts so much for my community. We have a place to be. A place to create a homestead. Somewhere we can grow some new roots. So that’s where we are now. Like a Phoenix, we are rising from the ashes.
Below is the link for our fundraiser for anyone who feels called to contribute to our new beginning. Sharing helps a lot too.
Mahalo nui for reading my first post 💕