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Paradise Lost...


by Trinity Gruenberg

    Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of fire, creator of the Hawaiian Islands, and the mythology says she resides in the volcano Kilauea, on the Big Island of Hawaii. Pele has unleashed her wrath.

    Kilauea is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and began erupting in January of 1983. The eruptions have caused considerable property damage, including the destruction of the town of Kalapana in 1990.

     On May 3, several lava vents opened in the lower Puna area. The eruption was accompanied by a strong earthquake of 6.9 magnitude, the strongest the island has felt in nearly 40 years, and nearly 2000 residents were evacuated from Leilani Estates and the adjacent Lanipuna Gardens development. 

    The population of the Big Island is over 186,000, with about 50,000 in the Puna district. By May 9, the eruption had destroyed 27 houses in Leilani Estates.

    Aaron LeBlanc, a Minnesota native who attended Staples, Wadena-Deer Creek and graduated from Bertha-Hewitt School in 2005, has been living on the Big Island the last two years. 

    “You have to be here three years before you’re considered ‘living here,’ according to the locals because so many people are transient. If you can make it for three years, then you can make it here,” said LeBlanc.

    LeBlanc works for the World Wide Organization of Organic Farmers. 

     “I really like it here. Theres no snow, but it rains. It downpours. I enjoy the different cultural melting pot here, especially being a cook. It’s like $6-$10 for a loaf a bread. Veggies grow here no problem, everything else is expensive. It’s cheaper if you’re a vegetarian,” he said. “But it’s absolutely beautiful here.”

    A month ago, he moved to the northern part of Pahoa. Kilauea’s lava flow is creeping closer to them by the day. . . .

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