Hawaii's Kilauea volcano emissions declined on Wednesday, one day after an ash cloud emerged from the crater in a massive cloud rising to about 12,000 feet. Residents and scientists are observing more intensive activities. (May 16th)

PAHOA, Hawaii – The inhabitants of the Big Island, whose homes have been destroyed, and lava-filled neighborhoods are facing a long road to recovery that will not begin before the volcano cools can.

The lava leaving Kilauea evacuated nearly 2,000 people and destroyed at least 36 structures, including 26 homes in the rural district of Leilani Estates, some 56 km from Hilo, the island's largest city, and 40 km from the crater of the volcano away.

Two weeks later, under Leilani, a series of cracks began to open Estates, the lava shows no signs of stagnation. Kilauea erupted on Thursday, shooting an ash cloud and debris 30,000 feet high this time, alerting Big Island residents that a major explosion in the fugitive crater could still leak.

Timid residents, eager to return to their homes in Leilani Estates, some 40 kilometers from the crater, have built a tent city on the parking lots and playgrounds of the community center. The authorities allow them to check their homes every day, a frightening process if they set themselves up every morning and run out in the evening.

There is no estimate of when the lava flow slows down or Kilauea returns to its normal low level. But the district officials seem to be preparing for a month-long event.

"We've made a home away from home," said evacuee Dennis Gillespie, 58, as he rests on a cot in the tent, with a propane fireplace, a big screen TV, and a cell phone charging generator , "We accept where we are now, but we look forward to coming home."


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No one was reported injured by the slow-injured – moving currents, but their relentless march through the area reveals how powerless people are when mother Nature transforms the landscape.

Only when the lava cools and solidifies to a relatively soft basalt rock, the recovery can begin. Those who can afford it will hire contractors with heavy equipment to remove the hardened lava from their land after officials clear the streets and replace dozens of burnt pylons.

How many roads are cleared and repaired is uncertain. In 1990, a similar lava flow flooded the nearby town of Kalapana, destroying nearly 200 houses and covering the streets that led to them. More: Hawaii volcano erupts, ashes spew 6 miles into the heavens

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Today some inhabitants of the area have bumpy tracks over the lava flow scratched to reach their homes, but most were never rebuilt. Instead, it has become a tourist destination where visitors can hike to watch small lava eruptions that flow over older rivers.

In Leilani Estates, few of the houses are artful, though all are very popular. Most are single-storey structures equipped with solar collectors and rainwater catchment areas, as there is no municipal water supply in this area.

Tiny houses are popular, especially because broaching larger plots of land is so cumbersome: apart from excavating holes for septic systems, homeowners must constantly fight the jungle that adjoins, fire ants in tow.

"I think they know and understand … that Madame Pele decides who will be affected," said Governor David Ige. refers to the Hawaiian volcanic goddess. "Obviously it's very different when it actually happened."

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More: There is a red code for the volcano Hawaii, because ashes could fall, people, aircraft [19659008] The longtime resident Jeno Enocencio, 67, said that people who live in the area, take this risk. Many do, because land is so cheap. A small amount can be purchased for only $ 8,000 if you are prepared to take care of it and understand the risk associated with living on the side of an active volcano.

Because the community is located in a zone of The US Geological Survey has a high risk of lava, few insurance companies will enact policies there. And those policies that are available cost thousands of dollars a year, a high price that many residents simply do without. According to the Census Bureau, the median family income in Pahoa is about $ 30,000 a year.

"They knew what they were getting into," Enocencio said, adding that he had 15 evacuees in his home.

Lava covers a street in the neighborhood Leilani Estates on May 6, 2018 on Hawaii's Big Island (Photo: Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY) [19659034] That is a small consolation for the people who have lost their homes. District officials try to reduce this burden by reminding that houses destroyed by the lava are not taxed, and there is a system for reducing or eliminating taxes on houses that are no longer accessible by road

is Dana Donovan's big fear. While her land and house are paid off and the lava has flown in another direction so far, she worries that the roads will be blocked for weeks.

In the heart of the Leilani estates, the lava has flowed over roads in the depths up to 20 feet. In other areas, huge gullies and chasms have split roads that cut through the dense jungle with difficulty. Contractors with experience in removing lava flows said it could take months for the lava to harden and cool sufficiently to be safely removed.

"I've just planted flowers," Donovan said, throwing his arms in the air.

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More: Before and After: Satellite images show devastation of the Leilani Estates district of the Hawaii volcano [19659008] How many Evacuated, who had time, Donovan emptied her home with valuables, including her solar system and backup batteries.

April Buxton has also removed most of her valuables, though she refuses to empty her home completely. That, she said, would cause trouble for the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele.

Buxton, who is half retired, said most of the money had fallen into the house. She has used most of her savings to buy supplies to make the Pahoa tent city more comfortable for her and her neighbors, from the pop-up accommodations to the food offered by the Red Cross.

"I will not give it up When I empty it, she'll take it," Buxton said, "and if it does, I'll lose everything."

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