VOLCANO, Hawaii Island – At mid-day Thursday, a recent slew of earthquakes around the Kilauea volcano had residents worried about a new lava outbreak that could threaten homes, businesses and the main road in and out of their neighborhoods.

For some, the fears were realized hours later when molten lava suddenly emerged in the rural Leilani Estates subdivision, prompting Hawaii County to order mandatory evacuations there.

Earlier in the day, lava-weary residents living upslope of the outbreak said life in the shadow of a fire goddess is all about going with the flow.

Gayle Chavez goes about her normal chores Thursday afternoon, hours before lava from Kilauea created a new outbreak downslope of Volcano. Jason Armstrong/Civil Beat

“We get complacent,” Volcano resident and Big Island native Gayle Chavez said while collecting her mail at the Volcano Post Office.

Chavez said she had been gardening at home when she felt the 5.0-magnitude earthquake Thursday morning, which had her anticipating lava would  emerge somewhere in lower Puna.

“Pele’s not done with us yet,” she said of the Hawaiian fire goddess. “I think we should all be ready for anything,”

Turns out, she was right.

Recent volcanic activity has the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency posting updates on Big Island radio stations. Big Islanders have been through this before, most recently in late 2014 when lava severed a perimeter road on the outskirts of Pahoa and threatened to cut off the town.

This time around, the lava could threaten a $40 million shopping center now being built in Pahoa, the district’s largest town.

“We know this drill,” Chavez said. “Those of us who live here all their lives know this drill.”

For Chavez, that means growing food and storing canned goods.

“We’re ready all the time,” she said.

Her preparedness also involved moving to Volcano, located upslope of Kilauea’s Puu Oo crater, from which lava has been flowing continuously since 1983.

“One of the reasons we got out of lower Puna was volcanic hazards,” Chavez said.

Longtime Volcano resident and artist Ira Ono is pleased with the boost in tourism he attributes to international news coverage about Kilauea. Jason Armstrong/Civil Beat

But one person’s hazard is another’s attraction.

“Volcano Village is jumping,” Ira Ono, a local artist and 30-year Volcano resident, said of the community’s bed and breakfast operations and handful of restaurants. “We’re getting press from all over the world and visitors from all over the world.”

Ono said his gallery is attracting people who are “stoked” about the buzz surrounding the volcano.

“What they are saying is, ‘Where else on Earth can you go and communicate with an active volcano,’” he said.

Like many here, Ono mentioned the deity when talking lava and the impacts it has on life, which is on the upswing for business owners.

“Once again,” he said, “we thank Madame Pele.”

Word of possible new activity attracted Portland resident Xinbo Zhang and his family Thursday to the volcano caldera overlook at the Jaggar Museum within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Volcano resident Emmet Judziewicz at Kilauea’s summit Thursday. Jason Armstrong/Civil Beat

Viewing at the volcano’s summit was not nearly as spectacular as it had been a week ago, yet that didn’t temper Zhang’s enthusiasm for the experience.

“This is one of the signature spots (in Hawaii),” said Zhang, a repeat visitor to the islands. “It’s really amazing to see active volcanoes.”

An even more amazing experience was had a week ago, said Volcano resident and frequent park visitor Emmet Judziewicz, who was enjoying a hike Thursday.

“You could see four or five fountains right here,” Judziewicz said from the caldera’s edge where hundreds of people were gathered. “It was the best I’ve seen it in 12 years, by far.”

Frequent visits to Hawaii Island motivated Robert Griswold to buy land in lower Puna’s Leilani Estates, part of which is under evacuation, and leave his former home in Oregon.

Former Oregon resident Robert Griswold said he has no second thoughts about relocating to lower Puna’s Leilani Estates dubdivision, downslope from Kilauea. He arrived April 25. Jason Armstrong/Civil Beat

Griswold arrived April 25. One of his first mornings in Hawaii involved being awakened by an earthquake that shook the van in which he was sleeping. Now, many of his neighborhood roads have developed cracks, some as wide as 6 inches, he said.

“This is exciting,” Griswold said.

Did he have any second thoughts about moving to the edge of active lava flow?

“I love it here,” Griswold said a few hours before the new outbreak occurred. “Pele loves me, so she takes care of me.”

They are now neighbors.

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