Jane Howard shares with her friends and family: “I didn't realize how hard this would be. I consider myself a positive, upbeat person, but facing the fact that my home sweet home in Leilani Estates, Pahoa, Hawaii is now uninhabitable and inaccessible is crushing. Everything is upside down and everything has changed. So many dear friends want to help and have urged me to reach out for support. I never thought I would do this, but with encouragement I have finally allowed myself to ask for and receive help.
I am safe and I am grateful, but the cold truth is my lovely one acre Big Island, Hawaii property is now worthless, toxic and dead, and most all worldly possessions are entrapped. Both business ventures, Islandjane Ecotours and the "Jungle to Table" endeavors, are now halted. In addition, my other workplace had to evacuate from the path of the fast-moving lava and is struggling to survive in its relocation.
The uncertainty is shattering. All of our resources, sweat and time over the past 6 years and more have been sunk into creating a 'forever home' in paradise. By our hard labor of love, the wild jungle property was transformed into a botanical paradise with diverse palms, fruits, orchids and gardenias, and was thoroughly enjoyed by hundreds at our hosted, magical community dinner events in Leilani Estates. That chapter is gone and I now look to relocate, rebuild and make a fresh start in a safe place.
On May 3, after returning from the mainland with only a carry-on suitcase, I learned of the onset of the eruption and lava flow that now entraps my Leilani Avenue home. My "welcome home" was a 6.9 earthquake with multiple aftershocks. Not being allowed to enter the subdivision and go home was painful. After negotiating with the Civil Defense, the National Guard and the local police, we were eventually granted access. With the help of my dear friend Doug and gas masks, we crossed the guarded Civil Defense hazard barricades against warning, and were firmly told, "you are on your own"! Entering the apoclyptic-type war zone, we were blinded by gasses pouring from huge cracks in the road, trying one road at a time to get to my property. Each road either led to a wall of fountaining lava, or dead-ended into the steaming new 100' cinder cone we now call Mount Luana. Luana Street was 3 blocks from my home. We still had a frighteningly few blocks to go. All vegetation was dead or dying from the SO2. The road we drove in on was our only exit plan, and it was cracking up as we drove on it. (It is now impassable with 2 cars stuck in the widening fissure).
I've never been as on edge as I was on the mission to retrieve our new van. Even now, the sound of a banging door tests my frazzled nerves. The once everyday neighborhood scene is now unrecognizable. The tropical jungle lush beauty is now eerily yellow under defoliated trees. The heat was stifling, but for me the deafening sound—the roar and explosions of the earth cracking open around us—defined disaster.
Amidst being pelted with rocks, we took 8 hyperventilating and nerve-wracking minutes to grab our van and whatever was in reach and get the heck out.
It's been a week of being glued to sirens and Civil Defense alerts. This could go on for 3 weeks, 3 months, 3 years...no one knows. The nightly news just reported the conditions are expected to escalate. Mustering up resilience, I plan to recover, rebuild and land on my feet. My goal is to take stock, regroup, relocate and rebuild.
With deepest gratitude, thank you for your support to help me relocate and rebuild. Dearest friends, you will always have a place at the table!” Love, Jane, Islandjane