New volcano evacuations and safety concerns in Hawaii’s Big Island

BIG ISLAND — New fissures that became active on Tuesday afternoon continues to release hazardous gases.

When lava and toxic gas spread through another neighborhood, authorities put out an emergency alert.

An immediate evacuation order for residents of Lanipuna Gardens, a second neighborhood on the Big Island, is now being affected by Kilauea’s wrath.

Alan Richmond is the public information officer for the Hawaii Police Department.

“The lava has consumed about 104 acres and we’ve had 36 structures that have been destroyed. Out of those 36, 27 of those are homes,” says Richmond.

1700 residents of Leilani Estates, including some Filipinos, have been out of their homes since last Thursday, when Kilauea erupted.

The Hawaii National Guard continues to test the air quality along the rift zones. They say it’s still too dangerous to let evacuated residents to move back.

Hazel Tagalicud is a nurse in Hilo. She says the symptoms of an exposure to toxic gas is similar to an asthma attack.

“They both cause respiratory problems, kind of similar symptoms, your chest tightening, difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, coughing almost the same as an asthma attack.”

Hazelexperienced firsthand how it felt being exposed to the sulfur dioxide gas. She and her family live in Pahao, just a few miles from the eruption. And yesterday, after Lanipuna gardens residents were asked to evacuate, they became aware of the possibility that, they too might have to leave their home.

“Just packing all the important and valuables that we have. Just in case we have to evacuate. We carried all the boxes to the car.”

Richmond says that everyone is aware that there is no telling when this would end, or how much more damage it would leave. But the state’s effort to provide help and resources is being handled the best way they can.

“We’re just in a wait, and watch with our fingers crossed and things will subside and Madam Pele, the legendary volcano will be satisfied and leave us alone for awhile.”

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