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Initial reactions from Hawaiʻi Island residents after Maunaloa's eruption

HAWAI-VOLCÁN
Marco Garcia/AP
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FR132414 AP
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says the flows are moving at less than 1 mph and should slow down when they hit flatter ground.

The Maunaloa eruption continues along the northeast slope of the mountain, with lava flowing out of several active fissures.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says the flows are moving at less than 1 mph and should slow down when they hit flatter ground.

Lava is now just under 5 miles from Daniel K. Inouye Highway and authorities continue to stress that no communities or structures are threatened at the moment.

But that doesn’t mean Big Island residents weren’t worried, or outright panicked, when learning about the eruption for the first time Monday morning.

Here’s a voicemail we received from a listener.

Hi, my name is Kirk Matos. I live in Hawaiʻi Ocean View Estates on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi. So Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Parks and the mayor's office knew of a possible eruption. So we got called by my grandson's classmate, at about one o'clock in the morning to let us know that the volcano erupted. So there's no civil defense warnings, no public or police warnings at all. And we've been turned on the radio, there was nothing.  The radio I can understand. But the Civil Defense and the Mayor's office should have done something due to the severity of the eruption in the Leilani Estates, which took hundreds of homes and to me, the mayor, it's kind of got a failing grade and from from the mayor down a failing grade for alerting the public on such a safety matter. Thank you very much.

Another listener emailed The Conversation:

“I live in North Kona. Sunday night, about 11:30 p.m. or 12:00 a.m. midnight. I got a County Civil Defense text about the eruption starting. I have deleted that message, so I do not know what time exactly it was sent. I had signed up to receive email and text announcements of civil defense messages, road closure notices, etc.  I get daily notices about high winds and surf; road closures, etc. I informed my wife about the start of the eruption, we checked the USGS Hawaiʻi Volcano webpage, looked outside and could see the red glow on the mountain.  Then went back to bed at about 2 p.m., since the lava was contained in the caldera. 

That got The Conversation curious as to how other Big Island residents first reacted to the eruption news, so they reached out to several people, and connected with Melinda Brosius.

"I've been here for a few of them, so I'm always aware. When the volcano goes off, you take it seriously. It's not a joke," she told The Conversation’s Russell Subiono this morning.

She’s been a Hawaiʻi Island resident for over 30 years and has lived in areas that at one time or another were threatened by volcanic eruption.

"We found out through word-of-mouth," Brosius said. "There should have been something that told us."

For the last 10 years, she’s lived on her 1 acre property in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates, on the south end of the island.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Nov. 30, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
Russell Subiono is the executive producer of The Conversation. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, television and radio. Contact him at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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