Life is interesting. Although I knew that we were moving to an island with 5 active volcanoes, I honestly did not think that we would experience a volcanic eruption of this magnitude in our lifetime. Wishful thinking? Naïve? Both? The reality is that Kilauea volcano did erupt, and the course of our lives has been changed forever.
The days following the eruption were extremely difficult. I felt all levels of uncertainty, anxiety and threat. Thank goodness for a supportive, understanding husband, a loving family, and a generous community.
Now I know what it’s like to live on an island during a volcanic eruption! I witnessed hundreds of people evacuate: trucks piled high with furniture, plants, and pets, the National Guard posted on intersections checking for ID’s, the diminishing water and mask supply at the stores, hundreds of earthquakes (the largest measured 6.9 in magnitude), the electricity and water getting shut off, sleeping with the door and windows closed to keep out the poisonous gas emitted by the volcano, wearing masks when we were outdoors, watching our plants yellow and die, not being able to drink the water because of the acid rain contamination, the news crews, the emergency stations, the refugee camps, and packing only our most precious belongings into suitcases.
At one point, we had experienced so many earthquakes that I began to take motion sickness pills. We felt like we were living on a boat! We also experienced many headaches and nausea due to our exposure to the sulphur dioxide gas.
Ten days after the volcano erupted, we finally made the decision to leave the island to spend some time with family and friends on Maui. The contrast is intense: Private room by the pool, resort-like landscaping, miles of sandy beaches, a carefree attitude adopted by those that live here, not to mention clean air and no earthquakes. Maui is truly a paradise.
Our time here has been good and bad. Good because we’ve been able to get some distance from the chaos back on the Big Island, and bad because we feel displaced, and unsure what step to take next.
We have spent the last 2-years (not to mention our entire life savings) building our dream home & garden in Kapoho. Although our newly-built home has been spared thus far, we were forced to evacuate before our property became cut off by the lava.
We are living moment-to-moment, day-by-day. At this point, we plan on going back to the house we were renting on the Big Island to pack up our things within the next week or so, before it becomes completely inaccessible due to road closures. That said, after many heart-wrenching discussions, we have decided that we no longer wish to devote any more time and energy to live on the Big Island. This was an extremely difficult decision to make, to say the least.
At this point, there are still many questions to be answered: What will happen to our home in Hawaii? Where will we go next?
My emotions swing between: “Everything that happens, happens for our good!” and feelings of sadness, displacement and loss.
Thank you for your understanding, continued friendship, and support during this transitional time.
This blog was created to share my belief that the art making process can be a vehicle for empowerment.
I am living proof.