The eruption of the Kilauea volcano has drawn a lot of media attention, both nationally and internationally. Video of lava flows overtaking streets, parked cars and trees has gone viral, and many have questioned whether the communities on the eastern side of the Big Island will be able to recover from the disaster.
The Island has seen its share of volcanic eruptions before, but nothing quite like this. The most recent eruption was in 2014, but the 2018 Kilauea eruption is significantly worse, and nobody truly knows the extent of the damage yet.
There have been numerous lost houses at Leilani Estates, which means a lot of lost tax revenue for the county. This will make budgeting and financial planning much harder for the local government moving forward. Plus, the lava flows have destroyed farmland, which has deprived many people who live in the region of their livelihood and ability to make a living.
Perhaps the biggest toll, beyond those more tangible financial factors, is the loss of community that occurs in such a disaster. It is entirely understandable that people who are forced to endure such a disaster will become frustrated, tense and desperate. The federal government may well provide some help, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was initially slow to respond, and is actually still helping pay off some of the expenses from the eruption that occurred four years ago.
With this latest disaster being so much larger in scope, it sure feels to the locals as though the federal government is taking its time in providing necessary assistance.
What steps will be needed in recovery efforts?
What was done in days will take years to recover from, and a concerted effort by residents and legislators alike. There’s a distinct possibility the state of Hawaii will need to call a special session of its state legislature, and some state senators have raised the possibility of convening in early July to have a meeting centered on providing resources and making any changes in the law needed to accommodate appropriate recovery plans.
There is particular concern for getting relief quickly to farmers and homeowners who can chalk up their properties as a total loss. Some have discussed whether there is any sort of ability to allocate public land for the purpose of restitution to these farmers and citizens. The issue will need to be discussed by the state government.
Of course, local legislators understand that in the wake of such a large disaster, there are going to be people who move away even if offered this restitution, simply because they want to avoid the possibility of this happening to them again. About 42 percent of area residents said they would stay in the area “no matter what” after the 2014 eruption. One would think that number would be even lower this time around, given the larger degree of severity.
It will take some time to rebuild and recover after this disaster, but rest assured, the people of Hawaii will weather this latest challenge.
Contact our Hawaii fishing charter service for more information about ongoing recovery efforts.