In this Sunday, May 6, 2018 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, a lava flow moves across Makamae Street in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa on the island of Hawaii. Kilauea volcano has destroyed more than two dozen homes since it began spewing lava hundreds of feet into the air last week, and residents who evacuated don’t know how long they might be displaced. The decimated homes were in the Leilani Estates subdivision, where molten rock, toxic gas and steam have been bursting through openings in the ground created by the volcano. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP)

Hawaiian volcanic eruption leaves former Vancouver resident shaken

Kilauea volcano has destroyed more than two dozen homes since it began spewing lava hundreds of feet into the air last week

A former Vancouver resident who owns a tea farm near the Kilauea volcano says her small Hawaiian community has been traumatized since molten lava began spewing several days ago.

Eliah Halpenny says she and her husband heard about some activity with the volcano before the lava began to flow last Thursday.

“We climbed up on the roof — this is before the real shaking started — and we could see this big red, black plume coming out of (the crater),” said Halpenny, who owns the tea farm with her husband and has lived in Hawaii for 17 years.

The farm is about 25 kilometres away from a neighbourhood that has been covered with molten rock and toxic gas.

Halpenny hasn’t witnessed the destruction, but she has seen smoke rising from the area.

“It’s pretty scary. It really is,” she said, adding that she feels lucky to live uphill from lava flow.

More than two dozen homes have been destroyed and about 2,000 people have been forced to flee the area.

The volcanic eruption also set off hundreds of earthquakes, including a magnitude-6.9 quake on Friday that sent various items crashing down around Halpenny’s home.

She isn’t sure whether she should return things to their place.

“I don’t really know what to do other than sit on tenterhooks. I think it’s going to get worse,” said Halpenny, who previously lived in Vancouver for about three decades.

There’s no indication when the lava flow might stop or how far it could spread. Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey expect the flow to continue until more magma is drained from the system.

Kilauea is one of the world’s most active volcanoes and has been erupting continuously since 1983.

Halpenny said she’s lived through earthquakes before, but this volcanic eruption has been terrifying.

“No matter what earthquake you’re in, once it passes a certain point, it’s so unnerving. There’s nothing to hold on to. You’re just moving, everything around you is moving,” she said.

The area where the eruption is taking place is remote and the community is small, Halpenny said.

She’s reached out to friends who live in the neighbourhoods most affected, offering a place to stay, and she said she’ll continue looking for ways to help.

For now, though, people in the area remain shaken. Workers at her farm don’t want to climb scaffolding or ladders and everyone seems “jangled,” Halpenny said.

“Every time we hear the walls creak or even the dog scratches a flea, everyone gets all jumpy again,” she said.

Related: Kelowna woman caught up in Hawaii false missile alarm

Related: No travel advisory for Canadians after Hawaiian volcano eruption

— By Gemma Karstens-Smith. With files from The Associated Press.

The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

The Valley Votes: Your election results

The results are in from the 2018 municipal election.

Three charities receive generous donation from 100 Men Who Care

The organization meets four times a year to contribute funding to local initiatives

Okanagan competitors to be featured in arm wrestling documentary

Arm Nation, featuring competitions from Kelowna and Penticton, will air on Oct. 20 on APTN

Former Vernon man guilty of Japanese exchange student’s murder

Natsumi Kogawa was found at empty heritage mansion shortly after she was reported missing in 2016

Contenders to return for Okanagan tour

Valdy, Gary Fjellgaard and Blu and Kelly Hopkins will perform at six venues

Tommy Chong says cannabis legalization makes him proud to be a Canadian

Legendary marijuana advocate and comedian celebrates cultural milestone at Kelowna event

VOTE: Nature in Focus reader’s choice photo contest

The Penticton Western News Reader’s Choice photo contest

Who is running in Summerland’s election?

Introducing you to the candidates asking for your vote on Oct. 20

Prank pizzas delivered to B.C. mayor on election night

The fake orders happened throughout Victoria mayor’s re-election campaign

MLA to become Nanaimo’s next mayor, could weaken NDP’s grasp on power

Leonard Krog’s win will trigger a byelection when he gives up his provincial seat

Horvat nets OT winner as Canucks beat Bruins 2-1

Young Vancouver star had spirited scrap earlier in contest

Team Canada gold medal winners for first time in world curling championship

Team Canada earned gold in Kelowna at the 2018 Winn Rentals World Mixed Curling Championship

B.C. passenger caught smoking weed in a car issued $230 fine

Saanich police did a field sobriety test on the driver and deemed it safe for him to drive

Payette invites critics to ‘come and spend a few days’ with her

Governor General Julie Payette made her first official to B.C. back in March

Most Read