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It will be months before lava from Hawaii volcano can be removed from neighborhoods

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Emissions from Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano diminished Wednesday, a day after a plume of ash spewed from the crater in a massive cloud that rose some 12,000 feet. Residents and scientists are keeping a close watch for more violent activity. (May 16) AP

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PAHOA, Hawaii — Big Island residents whose homes have been destroyed and neighborhoods filled with lava face a long road to recovery that can’t begin until the volcano cools off.

The lava leaking from Kilauea has forced the evacuation of nearly 2,000 people and destroyed at least 36 structures, including 26 homes in the rural Leilani Estates neighborhood area about 35 miles from Hilo, the island’s largest city.

Two weeks after a series of cracks began opening beneath the area, the lava is showing no sign of stopping. Wednesday afternoon, open pits or “vents” of lava roared and threw cinder-like ash into the surrounding jungle, igniting smoldering forest fires.

Anxious residents eager to return to their homes have instead built a tent city at the community center’s parking lots and playing fields. Authorities allow them to check on their homes daily, an anxious process as they line up each morning and trickle back out in the evening.

There’s no estimate for when the lava flows will slow or Kilauea will return to its normal low level of activity, but county officials appear to be preparing for a months-long event.

“We’ve made a home away from home,” said evacuee Dennis Gillespie, 58, as he lounged on a cot in the tent equipped with a propane fireplace, a big-screen TV and a generator for charging cell phones. “We accept where we are now, but we are looking forward to getting home.”

Evacuees leave dangerous Hawaiian volcano area

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Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz of the Hawaii Air National

Senior Airman Orlando Corpuz of the Hawaii Air National Guard gives the sign for a sulfur dioxide reading of zero, meaning it is safe to approach the area behind him, during a tour of the Leilani Estates area in Hawaii.  TREVOR HUGHES, USA TODAY
A member of the Hawaii National Guard takes a suffer

A member of the Hawaii National Guard takes a suffer dioxide reading. A reading of 1, as shown here, is considered unhealthy for long exposure.  TREVOR HUGHES, USA TODAY
Steam and gas pour from a vent near the Leilani Estates

Steam and gas pour from a vent near the Leilani Estates neighborhood on Hawaii’s Big Island. The gases have killed off the surrounding vegetation.  TREVOR HUGHES, USA TODAY
A crack stretches across Pohoiki Road near the Leilani

A crack stretches across Pohoiki Road near the Leilani Estates neighborhood. Other cracks are too wide to jump across, and some are filled with lava.   TREVOR HUGHES, USA TODAY
Steam and gas pour from a vent that severed a road

Steam and gas pour from a vent that severed a road near the Leilani Estates neighborhood on Hawaii’s Big Island.  TREVOR HUGHES, USA TODAY
 People play golf as an ash plume rises in the distance

People play golf as an ash plume rises in the distance from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island May 15, 2018 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii.  MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
A tower of ash reaching more than two miles into the

A tower of ash reaching more than two miles into the sky billows from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 15, 2018.  TREVOR HUGHES, USA TODAY
Lava shoots into the night sky from active fissures

Lava shoots into the night sky from active fissures on the lower east rift of the Kilauea volcano, near Pahoa, Hawaii, May 15, 2018.  CALEB JONES/AP
A woman takes a photo as an ash plume rises from the

A woman takes a photo as an ash plume rises from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island May 15, 2018 in Volcano, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said a recent lowering of the lava lake at the volcano’s Halemaumau crater ‘has raised the potential for explosive eruptions’ at the volcano.   MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
Tourists crowd together to snap photos of the Kilauea

Tourists crowd together to snap photos of the Kilauea eruption.  TREVOR HUGHES, USA TODAY
A column of ash from the volcano Kilauea towers over

A column of ash from the volcano Kilauea towers over the Big Island of Hawaii.  TREVOR HUGHES, USA TODAY
A U.S. Geological Survey marker used to track the movement

A U.S. Geological Survey marker used to track the movement of the ground around the Kilauea volcano.   TREVOR HUGHES, USA TODAY
An ash plume rises from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's

An ash plume rises from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 15, 2018 in Volcano, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said a recent lowering of the lava lake at the volcano’s Halemaumau crater ‘has raised the potential for explosive eruptions’ at the volcano.  MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
Ti leaves and a bottle of alcohol are left as offerings

Ti leaves and a bottle of alcohol are left as offerings to the Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, on a hardened lava flow from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 15, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. The section of the hardened lava flow marks the point where lava stopped flowing towards the town in 2014, saving the town from destruction. The U.S. Geological Survey said a recent lowering of the lava lake at the volcano’s Halemaumau crater Òhas raised the potential for explosive eruptionsÓ at the volcano.  MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
Plants grow in cracks on a hardened lava flow from

Plants grow in cracks on a hardened lava flow from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 15, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii.  MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
An old 'no trespassing' sign remains partially swallowed

An old ‘no trespassing’ sign remains partially swallowed by a lava flow, now hardened, from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 15, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii.  MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
A sign at the entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National

A sign at the entrance to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park tells visitors the park is closed due to concerns about a potential eruption of the Kilauea volcano inside the park on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 14, 2018. Park law enforcement officers are strictly enforcing a ban on people even parking in this area over safety concerns.   TREVOR HUGHES/USA TODAY
This is a satellite image of the Kilauea Volcano and

This is a satellite image of the Kilauea Volcano and the Leilani Estates in Hawaii.  SATELLITE IMAGE ©2018 DIGITALG
This is a satellite image of the Kilauea Volcano and

This is a satellite image of the Kilauea Volcano and the Leilani Estates in Hawaii.   SATELLITE IMAGE ©2018 DIGITALG
A lava flow near the Leilani Estates neighborhood smokes

A lava flow near the Leilani Estates neighborhood smokes and emits fumes as it consumes the surrounding jungle on Sunday, May 13, 2018.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
A lava flow near the Leilani Estates neighborhood smokes

A lava flow near the Leilani Estates neighborhood smokes and emits fumes as it consumes the surrounding jungle on Sunday, May 13, 2018.   Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Fumes from the lava flow near the Leilani Estates neighborhood

Fumes from the lava flow near the Leilani Estates neighborhood have killed surrounding vegetation in this photo taken Sunday, May 13, 2018.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
The Puna Geothermal Venture power plant sits in the

The Puna Geothermal Venture power plant sits in the jungle near the lava flows running through the Leilani Estates neighborhood. Area residents worried the geothermal plant would be damaged by the lava, setting ablaze the liquid used to transfer heat energy to the generators.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
A lava flow near the Leilani Estates neighborhood smokes

A lava flow near the Leilani Estates neighborhood smokes and emits fumes as it consumes the surrounding jungle on Sunday, May 13, 2018.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
An island of vegetation sits amidst an old lava flow

An island of vegetation sits amidst an old lava flow near Pahoa, Hawaii. This area is known for suffering frequent lava flows that destroy homes.   Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Backed by the towering cloud of smoke and steam, the

Backed by the towering cloud of smoke and steam, the Pahoa Chiropractic Center proudly tells residents that the doctor has no plans to leave despite the mandatory evacuation of a nearby neighborhood.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Evacuees from the Pahoa-area lava flow pass through

Evacuees from the Pahoa-area lava flow pass through a police checkpoint to return to their homes, which are near the ongoing lava flow.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Kapua Freitas, 8, left, and Audri Agonias, 7, carry

Kapua Freitas, 8, left, and Audri Agonias, 7, carry a tote filled with cold drinks to people waiting at the lava evacuation center in Pahoa, Hawaii, on Sunday, May 13, 2018.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
A lava flow near the Leilani Estates neighborhood smokes

A lava flow near the Leilani Estates neighborhood smokes and emits fumes as it consumes the surrounding jungle on Sunday, May 13, 2018.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Fumes from the lava flow near the Leilani Estates neighborhood

Fumes from the lava flow near the Leilani Estates neighborhood have killed surrounding vegetation in this photo taken Sunday, May 13, 2018.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
An old road that once ran to a now-destroyed neighborhood

An old road that once ran to a now-destroyed neighborhood near Pahoa, Hawaii is slowly disappearing into the jungle after it was partially covered with lava and abandoned in a decades-ago lava flow.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
This is an aerial view of the 1000-foot long fissure

This is an aerial view of the 1000-foot long fissure that erupted on Kilauea’s east rift zone near Pahoa, Hawaii on May 13, 2018. Ground cracks and seismicity indicate a continued easterly migration. Eighteen fissures have been reported in and around Leilani Estates. Kilauea is the most active volcano on the Hawaii’s Big Island and some experts predict the volcanic activity could cause a massive explosion.  Bruce Omori, Paradise Helicopters, via EPA-EFE
Gases rise from lava fissure 17 after it erupted early

Gases rise from lava fissure 17 after it erupted early on May 13 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii. The new fissure spurred Hawaii officials to call for more evacuations on Sunday as residents braced for an expected eruption from the Kilauea volcano.  Caleb Jones, AP
Police block a road near lava fissure 17 after it erupted

Police block a road near lava fissure 17 after it erupted early on May 13, 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii.  Caleb Jones, AP
Lava flows at a new fissure in the aftermath of eruptions

Lava flows at a new fissure in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island as a local resident walks nearby after taking photos on May 12, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. The U.S. Geological Survey said a recent lowering of the lava lake at the volcano’s Halemaumau crater Òhas raised the potential for explosive eruptionsÓ at the volcano. Authorities have confirmed the fissure is the 16th to open.  MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
A handout photo made available by the Hawaii County

A handout photo made available by the Hawaii County Fire Department shows and aerial view of fissure 16 ,bottom, located about 1.3 km northeast of fissure 15, top left, near Leilani Estate, Hawaii on May 12, 2018. Sixteen fissures have been reported in and around Leilani Estate. Kilauea is the most active volcano on the Hawaii’s Big Island and some experts predict the volcanic activity could cause a massive explosion in the coming weeks.  HAWAII COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT/EPA-EFE
A local resident talks on his phone as a lava fissure

A local resident talks on his phone as a lava fissure erupts in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 12, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii.   MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
Lava flows at a lava fissure in the aftermath of eruptions

Lava flows at a lava fissure in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 12, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii.   MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
A lava fissure erupts in the aftermath of eruptions

A lava fissure erupts in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 12, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii.   MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
Hannique Ruder, a 65-year-old resident living in the

Hannique Ruder, a 65-year-old resident living in the Leilani Estates subdivision, stands on a mound of hardened lava near Pahoa, Hawaii on May 11, 2018.  Jae C. Hong, AP
Smoke and volcanic gases rise as lava cools in the

Smoke and volcanic gases rise as lava cools in the Leilani Estates neighborhood, Friday.  Mario Tama, Getty Images
Center lane lines are partially visible along the lava-covered

Center lane lines are partially visible along the lava-covered road in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. Kilauea has destroyed more than 35 structures since it began releasing lava from vents about 25 miles (40 kilometers) east of the summit crater.  Jae C. Hong, AP
Fissures continue to vent an extraordinary amount of

Fissures continue to vent an extraordinary amount of toxic gases, creating hazardous breathing conditions in the immediate and downwind areas, Pahoa, Hawaii. There has been no volcanic activity within the Leilani Estates subdivision for the past day, although geologists warn that it is not over.  Bruce Omori/Paradise Helicopters, EPA-EFE
A statue of the Virgin Mary is silhouetted as smoke

A statue of the Virgin Mary is silhouetted as smoke rises from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island, May 10, 2018.  MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
A geologist inspects a crack that widened considerably

A geologist inspects a crack that widened considerably in the past day, on Old Kalapana Road, Hawaii, May 10, 2018.   UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY VIA EPA-EFE
Steam and gas rise in Leilani Estates in the aftermath

Steam and gas rise in Leilani Estates in the aftermath of the Kilauea volcano eruption on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 10, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii.   MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
An aerial view shows smoke and burned areas as eruptions

An aerial view shows smoke and burned areas as eruptions continued overnight within the Leilani Estates subdivision, in Pahoa, Hawaii on May 9, 2018. Although activity this morning has waned, geologists warn that it is not over. Fissures also continue to vent an extraordinary amount of toxic gases, creating hazardous breathing conditions in the immediate and downwind areas.  BRUCE OMORI/PARADISE HELICOPTERS/EPA-EFE
An aerial view shows a flow covered a street before

An aerial view shows a flow covered a street before coming to a stop, and ground cracks litter the area as eruptions continued overnight within the Leilani Estates subdivision, in Pahoa, Hawaii on May 9, 2018. Although activity this morning has waned, geologists warn that it is not over. Fissures also continue to vent an extraordinary amount of toxic gases, creating hazardous breathing conditions in the immediate and downwind areas.   BRUCE OMORI/PARADISE HELICOPTERS/EPA-EFE
An aerial view shows smoke and burned areas as eruptions

An aerial view shows smoke and burned areas as eruptions continued overnight within the Leilani Estates subdivision, in Pahoa, Hawaii on May 9, 2018. Although activity this morning has waned, geologists warn that it is not over. Fissures also continue to vent an extraordinary amount of toxic gases, creating hazardous breathing conditions in the immediate and downwind areas.  BRUCE OMORI/PARADISE HELICOPTERS/EPA-EFE
Park visitors gather as volcanic gases rise from the

Park visitors gather as volcanic gases rise from the Halemaumau crater within the Kilauea volcano summit caldera at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on May 9, 2018 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii. The volcano has spewed lava and high levels of sulfur dioxide gas into communities, leading officials to order 1,700 to evacuate. Officials have confirmed 26 homes have now been destroyed by lava in Leilani Estates.   MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
An ash plume rises from the Halemaumau crater within

An ash plume rises from the Halemaumau crater within the Kilauea volcano summit caldera at the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on May 9, 2018 in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii.   MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
This image obtained May 9, 2018, released by the US

This image obtained May 9, 2018, released by the US Geological Survey shows a lava flow moving on Makamae Street in Leilani Estates at 09:32 am local time, on May 6, 2018 in Leilani Estates, Hawaii.The Kilauea Volcano, the most active in Hawaii, was highly unstable on May 6, 2018, as lava spouted into the air and fissures emitted deadly gases — hazards that have forced thousands of people to evacuate.  US GEOLOGICAL SURVEY/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Steam and sulfur rises from cracks in Moku Street at

Steam and sulfur rises from cracks in Moku Street at the head of a driveway in Leilani Estates on May 8, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii. Police have gone door-to-door to evacuate residents near two new vents emitting dangerous volcanic gases in Hawaii. The vents emerged near the spots where lava has been pouring into streets and backyards for the past week.  HOLLYN JOHNSON/HAWAII TRIBUNE-HERALD via AP
A fissure erupts near the intersection of Kahukai Street

A fissure erupts near the intersection of Kahukai Street and Leilani Avenue in Leilani Estates on May 8, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii. Hawaii County officials issued mandatory evacuation orders for two neighborhoods, Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens, on Thursday when the lava first emerged. There are 14 lava-producing fissures in Leilani Estates, after two new ones formed Tuesday.  HOLLYN JOHNSON/HAWAII TRIBUNE-HERALD via AP
Roy Piper, visiting from Canterbury, Conn., takes pictures

Roy Piper, visiting from Canterbury, Conn., takes pictures as volcanic gases are emitted into the air on May 8, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii. Hawaii County officials have issued a cellphone alert warning residents of a subdivision to immediately evacuate after two new lava fissures opened in a neighboring community.  JAE C. HONG/AP
Volunteer Jasmine Kupihea, facing camera, hugs a local

Volunteer Jasmine Kupihea, facing camera, hugs a local resident affected by the lava flow at a makeshift donation center on May 8, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii. Hawaii County officials have issued a cellphone alert warning residents of a subdivision to immediately evacuate after two new lava fissures opened in a neighboring community.   JAE C. HONG/AP
Volunteers and evacuees hold in hands while praying

Volunteers and evacuees hold in hands while praying before serving dinner at a makeshift donation center on May 8, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii.   JAE C. HONG/AP
Evacuee Jon Warner, left, walks through rain with son

Evacuee Jon Warner, left, walks through rain with son Ethan, right, and daughter Iris after picking up some basic necessities at a makeshift donation center on May 8, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii. “We’ve never seen anything like that before,” said Warner. “I don’t know if I ever want to go back.”  JAE C. HONG/AP
In this Tuesday, May 8, 2018 photo from the U.S. Geological

In this Tuesday, May 8, 2018 photo from the U.S. Geological Survey, a geologist examines a part of the inactive fissure 10 in Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa on the island of Hawaii.   U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY via AP
U.S. Army National Guard First Lt. Aaron Hew Len takes

U.S. Army National Guard First Lt. Aaron Hew Len takes measurements for sulfur dioxide gas at volcanic fissures in the Leilani Estates neighborhood in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 8, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii. The volcano has spewed lava and high levels of sulfur dioxide gas into communities, leading officials to order 1,700 to evacuate. Leilani Estates residents have been allowed to return during the day to inspect property and remove belongings. Officials have confirmed 26 homes have now been destroyed by lava in Leilani Estates.  MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
U.S. Army National Guard First Lt. Aaron Hew Len takes

U.S. Army National Guard First Lt. Aaron Hew Len takes measurements for dangerous levels of sulfur dioxide gas in front of a lava flow and downed power lines on a residential street in the Leilani Estates neighborhood in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 8, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii.  MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
A resident waits to see if it is possible to cross

A resident waits to see if it is possible to cross a street with fissures in the Leilani Estates neighborhood in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 8, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii.   MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
A lava flow sits on the lawn of a home in the Leilani

A lava flow sits on the lawn of a home in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii on May 8, 2018. Scientists confirm that volcanic activity has paused at all 12 fissures that opened up in a Hawaii community and oozed lava that burned 35 structures. Officials warn that hazardous fumes continue to be released from the cracks in the ground.  CALEB JONES/AP
Staff sergeant Jake Kiyohiro of the Hawaii National

Staff sergeant Jake Kiyohiro of the Hawaii National Guard takes gas readings on May 7, 2018 at Leilani Estates in Pahoa, Hawaii island. Lava has now destroyed 30 structures, most of which are homes, as residents gathered belongings and animals with an uncertainty that they would return to a home at all.  JAMM AQUINO/THE STAR-ADVERTISER VIA AP
In this Saturday, May 5, 2018, photo, Edwin Montoya,

In this Saturday, May 5, 2018, photo, Edwin Montoya, 76, feeds his dogs at a campsite near his home near Pahoa, Hawaii. Just a couple of miles up the hill, lava has been gushing from the ground and destroying dozens of homes as new eruptions and earthquakes have rattled the region. His property is within the mandatory evacuation zone, but Montoya, who was finally able to get back to the farm on Saturday afternoon, plans to stay there unless he is forced to leave. (AP Photo/Marco Garcia) ORG XMIT: HIMG101  Marco Garcia, AP
 Lava from a robust fissure eruption on Kilauea's east

Lava from a robust fissure eruption on Kilauea’s east rift zone consumes a home, then threatens another, near Pahoa, Hawaii, May 6, 2018. The total number of homes lost within the Leilani Estates subdivision thus far is 21, and geologists from the Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory do not expect the eruption to cease any time soon. A local state of emergency has been declared after Mount Kilauea erupted near residential areas, forcing mandatory evacuation of about 1,700 citizens from their nearby homes. The crater’s floor collapsed on May 1 and is continuing to erode its walls and generating huge explosions of ashes. Several earthquakes have been recorded in the area where the volcanic eruptions continue, including a 6.9 magnitue earthquake which struck the area on May 4.  BRUCE OMORI / PARADISE HELICOPTERS/EPA-EFE
This ground cracking extends across Highway 130 in

This ground cracking extends across Highway 130 in Puna, Hawaii, May 7, 2018.   U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY VIA GETTY IMAGES
Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park take in

Visitors to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park take in a view of Kilauea volcano’s crater on Hawaii’s Big Island south of Hilo, May 7, 2018 where lava flowed out of until the May 4 earthquake when it sank back in.   FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Steam rises from a fissure in the Leilani Estates subdivision,

Steam rises from a fissure in the Leilani Estates subdivision, near Pahoa, Hawaii, May 7, 2018.   UNITED STATES GEOLOGICAL SURVEY VIA EPA-EFE
Stacy Welch photographs lava located about 250-feet

Stacy Welch photographs lava located about 250-feet from her home, which remains standing, in the Leilani Estates neighborhood May 7, 2018.   MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
This May 6, 2018 photo provided by the U.S. Geological

This May 6, 2018 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows the lava lake at the summit of Kilauea near Pahoa, Hawaii. Hawaii’s erupting Kilauea volcano has destroyed homes and forced the evacuations of more than a thousand people.  U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY VIA AP
Volcanic activity continues on Kilauea's east rift

Volcanic activity continues on Kilauea’s east rift zone, as a robust fissure eruption in Leilani Estates sends a massive flow into the subdivision, consuming all in its path, near Pahoa, Hawaii, May 6, 2018.  BRUCE OMORI / PARADISE HELICOPTERS/EPA-EFE
Flames started by lava consume a house in the Leilani

Flames started by lava consume a house in the Leilani Estates neighborhood on May 6, 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Activity continues as a fissure eruption fountains

Activity continues as a fissure eruption fountains more than 100 feet into the air near Pahoa, Hawaii, May 6, 2018. Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geologists have not been able to forecast an end to the eruption.  BRUCE OMORI / PARADISE HELICOPTERS/EPA-EFE
Laura Dawn is seen in her truck loaded with her possessions

Laura Dawn is seen in her truck loaded with her possessions as she and her husband flee the lava eruption, May 6, 2018, near Pahoa, Hawaii. Their property is just below the active lava eruption and they fear their land will get covered in lava. They are moving further upcoast to a safer area.   MARCO GARCIA/AP
A plume of volcanic gas mixed with smoke from fires

A plume of volcanic gas mixed with smoke from fires caused by lava rises (C) amidst clouds in the Leilani Estates neighborhood in the aftermath of eruptions from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 6, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii.  MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological

In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey, HVO geologists collect samples of spatter for laboratory analysis near the intersection of Malama and Pomaikai Streets after the eruption of Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano on May 6, 2018 in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii.   HANDOUT/U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY VIA GETTY IMAGES
A helicopter flies above destruction amidst advancing

A helicopter flies above destruction amidst advancing lava in the Leilani Estates neighborhood in the aftermath of eruptions from the the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 6, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii.  MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
National Guard vehicles prepare to head toward Leilani

National Guard vehicles prepare to head toward Leilani Estates as authorities allowed residents back to gather their belongings and head back out on May 6, 2018 near the town of Pahoa on the south side of Hawaii’s Big Island, following a series of earthquakes and concern over toxic fumes from Sulphur Dioxide.  FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Residents jam a street after being allowed to briefly

Residents jam a street after being allowed to briefly return home to check on belongings and pets in an evacuation zone near volcanic activity on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 6, 2018 in Pahoa, Hawaii.  MARIO TAMA/GETTY IMAGES
Lava burns across a road as an offering to the volcano

Lava burns across a road as an offering to the volcano goddess lies in the foreground in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii on May 5, 2018.  CALEB JONES/AP
Lava burns across a road in the Leilani Estates subdivision

Lava burns across a road in the Leilani Estates subdivision on May 5, 2018, near Pahoa, Hawaii.   CALEB JONES/AP
This image released by the US Geological Survey shows

This image released by the US Geological Survey shows a volcanic fissure with lava fountains as high as about 230 ft in Leilani Estates, Hawaii, on May 5, 2018.  HANDOUT/U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY VIA AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Don Yokohama, a protection forester for the state of

Don Yokohama, a protection forester for the state of Hawaii, watches as lava flows through the Leilani Estates neighborhood on May 6, 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Lava pours down a road in the Leilani Estates neighborhood

Lava pours down a road in the Leilani Estates neighborhood on May 6, 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii.   Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Greg Chunn, who declined to evacuate the Leilani Estates

Greg Chunn, who declined to evacuate the Leilani Estates neighborhood, takes pictures as lava advances across a neighbor’s yard on May 6, 2018.   Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Lava wraps around a tree before burning it down in

Lava wraps around a tree before burning it down in the Leilani Estates neighborhood on May 6, 2018 morning near Pahoa, Hawaii.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Flames and heat haze outline and obscure a burning

Flames and heat haze outline and obscure a burning home in the Leilani Estates neighborhood on May 6, 2018 near Pahoa, Hawaii.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Lava from a nearby volcano engulfs a home in the Leilani

Lava from a nearby volcano engulfs a home in the Leilani Estates neighborhood of Pahoa, Hawaii on May 6, 2018.  Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Lava flows across a yard in the Leilani Estates neighborhood

Lava flows across a yard in the Leilani Estates neighborhood of Pahoa, Hawaii on May 6, 2018.   Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Lava flows across a street in the Leilani Estates neighborhood

Lava flows across a street in the Leilani Estates neighborhood of Pahoa, Hawaii on May 6, 2018.   Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY
Police men stand at a roadblock to Leilani Estates

Police men stand at a roadblock to Leilani Estates south of Hi-Lo on Hawaii island on May 5, 2018, after residents were told to evacuate.A magnitude 6.9 earthquake shook Hawaii’s Big Island, prompting fresh eruptions of a volcano that has been spewing lava near residential areas, forcing hundreds of people to flee.  FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
A firefighter takes photos near steam rising from a

A firefighter takes photos near steam rising from a fissure in Leilani Estates subdivision on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 4, 2018. Up to 10,000 people have been asked to leave their homes on Hawaii’s Big Island following the eruption of the Kilauea volcano that came after a series of recent earthquakes.   FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Steam rises from a fissure on a road in Leilani Estates

Steam rises from a fissure on a road in Leilani Estates subdivision on Hawaii’s Big Island on May 4, 2018.  FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
Residents from the lava affected areas attend a community

Residents from the lava affected areas attend a community meeting at Pahoa High School on May 4, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii. Community leaders, scientists, and local authorities answers questions about the lava eruption and evacuation plans.  MARCO GARCIA/AP
Residents from the lava affected areas of the Big Island

Residents from the lava affected areas of the Big Island hold a prayer before the start of a community meeting with local authorities at Pahoa High School on May 4, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii.  MARCO GARCIA/AP
Lt. Col. Bill Flynn of the Hawaii National Guard speaks

Lt. Col. Bill Flynn of the Hawaii National Guard speaks at a community meeting at Pahoa High School on May 4, 2018, in Pahoa, Hawaii. Community leaders, scientists, and local authorities answered questions about the lava eruption and evacuation plans.   MARCO GARCIA/AP
A woman tries to talk to a national guardsmen to gain

A woman tries to talk to a national guardsmen to gain entry to the Leilani Estates, Friday, in Pahoa, Hawaii. A mandatory evacuation forced many residents to flee their homes due to a nearby lava eruption.  Marco Garcia, AP
In this image released by the U.S. Geological Survey,

In this image released by the U.S. Geological Survey, steam rises from cracks in the road shortly before a fissure opened up on Kaupili Street in the Leilani Estates subdivision, Friday, in Pahoa, Hawaii. The Kilauea volcano sent more lava into Hawaii communities Friday, a day after forcing more than 1,500 people to flee from their mountainside homes, and authorities detected high levels of sulfur gas that could threaten the elderly and people with breathing problems. (U.S. Geological Survey via AP) ORG XMIT: NY171  AP
A new lava fissure on Kilauea Volcano's lower East

A new lava fissure on Kilauea Volcano’s lower East Rift Zone on Makamae and Leilani Streets can be seen in the Leilani Estates subdivision near Pahoa, Hawaii. Spatter was being thrown roughly 100 ffeet high at the time of this image.  U.S. Geolgogical Survey via AP, AP
A shake map indicates the location of a preliminary

A shake map indicates the location of a preliminary magnitude 5.4 earthquake near Leilani Estates, Hawaii, USA. Several earthquakes have been recorded in the area where a volcanic eruptions continue. No immediate reports of damage or injuries caused by the earthquakes.  HANDOUT, EPA-EFE
Results from the eruption of Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii's

Results from the eruption of Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island can be seen Friday. The eruption sent molten lava through forests and bubbling up from paved streets and forced the evacuation of about 1,500 people who were still out of their homes Friday after Thursday’s eruption.  Shane Turpin/seeLava.com via AP
Mary Ann Sullivan, 59, looks at her belongings and

Mary Ann Sullivan, 59, looks at her belongings and her cat she pulled from her home after a mandatory evacuation of the Leilani Estates due to a lava eruption, Friday, in Pahoa, HI. The eruption took place about a block from Sullivan’s home. Sullivan and her husband spent the night at a nearby shelter and does not know when they will be able to return.  Marco Garcia, AP
National guardsmen and police stand at the entrance

National guardsmen and police stand at the entrance to Leilani Estates, in Pahoa, Hawaii. A mandatory evacuation for the area as declared by the state. Due to unsafe conditions in the area from the recent lava eruption, residents who evacuated could not return to their homes Friday.  Marco Garcia, AP
After a mandatory evacuation due to a lava eruption

After a mandatory evacuation due to a lava eruption yesterday, Leilani Estates residents line up on the road leading to the area in Pahoa, Hawaii.  Marco Garcia, AP
After being forced out of his home at the Leilani Estates

After being forced out of his home at the Leilani Estates due to a mandatory evacuation, Tim Sullivan, 61, sits in his pickup truck near a local shelter, Friday, May 4, 2018, in Pahoa, HI. The eruption took place about a block from Sullivan’s home. He and his wife spent the night at a nearby shelter and does not know when they will be able to return.  Marco Garcia, AP
This photo provided by Hawaii Electric Light shows

This photo provided by Hawaii Electric Light shows lava flowing over Mohala Street in the Leilani Estates area near Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii. Nearly 1,500 people have fled from their homes after Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano sent molten lava chewing through forests and bubbling up on paved streets in an eruption that one resident described as “a curtain of fire.” (Hawaii Electric Light via AP) ORG XMIT: LA508  Hawaii Electric Light via AP
Residents from the nearby Leilani Estates sleep in

Residents from the nearby Leilani Estates sleep in their cars after being forced out of there homes by a lava eruption.  Marco Garcia, AP
Mary Hicks, 56, left, and Tim Hicks, 51, both residents

Mary Hicks, 56, left, and Tim Hicks, 51, both residents of the Leilani Estates, spent the night in their car after being evacuated from their home.  Marco Garcia, AP
A woman with two dogs in her car tries to enter the

A woman with two dogs in her car tries to enter the Leilani Estates.  Marco Garcia, AP
A road is cracked after the eruption from Kilauea Volcano

A road is cracked after the eruption from Kilauea Volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island Friday, May 4, 2018. The Kilauea volcano sent more lava into Hawaii communities Friday, a day after forcing nearly 1,500 people to flee from their mountainside homes, and authorities detected high levels of sulfur gas that could threaten the elderly and people with breathing problems.  Shane Turpin via AP

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No one has been reported injured by the slow-moving flows, but their inexorable march across the area demonstrates just how powerless humans are when Mother Nature reshapes the landscape.

Recovery can only truly begin once the lava cools and hardens to a relatively soft basaltic rock. Those who can afford it will hire contractors with heavy equipment to clear the hardened lava from their land, after county officials clear the roads and replace dozens of burned power poles.

Just how many roads will be cleared and repaired remains uncertain. In 1990, a similar lava flow engulfed the nearby town of Kalapana, destroying nearly 200 homes and covering the roads leading to them.

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Today, some residents of the area have scratched bumpy tracks across the lava flow to reach their homes but most never rebuilt. Instead, it’s become a tourist destination where visitors can hike out to watch small lava outbreaks ooze across older flows.

In Leilani Estates, few of the homes are elaborate, although all are beloved. Most are single-story structures fitted with solar panels and rain-catchment systems since there’s no municipal water supply in the area.

Tiny homes are popular, especially because clearing larger lots is such a backbreaking process: Aside from having to gouge out holes for septic systems, homeowners must constantly battle back the jungle that closes in, fire ants in tow.

“I think they know and understand … that Madame Pele decides who will be impacted,” Gov. David Ige said, referring to the Hawaiian volcano goddess. “Obviously it’s very different when you actually have it happen.”

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Longtime area resident Jeno Enocencio, 67, said people who live in the area choose to take that risk. Many do because land is so cheap. A small lot can be purchased for just $8,000 if you’re willing to put in the effort to clear it and understand the risk that comes with living on the side of an active volcano.

Because the community sits in a zone deemed by the U.S. Geological Survey to have a high risk of lava, few insurance companies will issues policies there. And those policies that are available cost thousands of dollars a year, a hefty cost many residents simply forgo. According to the Census Bureau, the median family income in Pahoa is about $30,000 annually.

“They knew what they were getting into,” Enocencio said, adding at one point he had 15 evacuees staying at his home.

That’s little consolation to the people who have lost their homes. County officials are trying to ease that burden by reminding them that houses destroyed by the lava won’t be taxed, and there’s a system for decreasing or eliminating taxes on homes no longer accessible by road.

That’s Dana Donovan’s big fear. While her land and house are paid off, and the lava so far has flown in a different direction, she worries the roads will be blocked for weeks.

In the heart of the Leilani Estates, the lava has flowed over streets at depths up to 20 feet. In other areas, huge gullies and chasms have split roads painstakingly cut through the thick jungle. Contractors with experience removing lava flows said it can take months for the lava to harden and cool enough to remove safely.

“I just planted flowers,” Donovan said, throwing her arms into the air.

Like many evacuees who had time, Donovan emptied her home of valuables, including her solar system and backup batteries.

April Buxton has also removed most of her valuables, although she refuses to empty her house entirely. That, she said, would be inviting trouble from the Hawaiian volcano goddess Pele.

Buxton, who is semi-retired, said most of her money is sunk into the house. She’s used much of her savings to buy supplies to make the Pahoa tent city more comfortable for her and her neighbors, from the pop-up shelters to the food they prefer to what the Red Cross offers.

“I’m not giving up my house to Pele. In my mind, if I empty it, she’ll take it,” Buxton said. “And if it goes, I’ll lose everything.”

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