Temporary hold - evacuation story - when will we be back?
Updated: Sep 8, 2018
"Due to recent volcanic activity in the area our visitor program is on a temporary hold. We will not be scheduling interviews or taking on new visitors until further notice.
Prayers and well wishes are welcome in this time of intensity.
This was the hasty message I typed after it became clear that the first few cracks and rumblings in Leilani Estates was quickly evolving into a full blown eruption. None of us imagined at the time that it would end up being the biggest and most destructive eruption in Hawaii's recent history.
We, the management and permanent residence at Kanekiki, felt an immediate urgency to ensure the safety of our current and future guests. So many scary questions hung in the air, the biggest one being, "Where will the lava flow next?".
Initially almost everyone assured us they felt safe to hang out at Kanekiki until we received an official call to evacuate. Understandably one of our guests, who had lived through one too many natural disasters, chose to go back to the mainland. As sad as it was to see them go, there was shared support for their decision to 'follow their gut'. For a day or so we waited for news.
There was so much uncertainty for those of us in a management position, as there was no way of knowing what would happen next. Feeling a sense of responsibility for our Kanekiki family, we didn't want to risk an ounce of their safety and comfortability. The increasing dangers in our area of Puna were earthquakes, fast-moving lava and poor air quality. When we heard that the likely path of the ever-growing lava flow was right through our main roadway, we decided it was time to cancel our coming visitors, put all our programs on hold and get everyone to higher ground.
After the decision to pack up and go was made it was as if someone had yelled "BOMB!" on an airplane. I'll admit that I myself was pretty well consumed with lava-panic, and couldn't seem to help imagining fissures opening up next door, on the path to the compost toilet or under my bed while I was sleeping. It was highly unlikely of course, but I was totally horrified and in shock that anything like a giant crack in the earth fountaining hot lava in your backyard could happen. I was seeing people losing homes to lava overnight. We all felt more than a bit "shook up".
The next question was where to find a place for everyone, including our management, visitors and furry friends. And for how long would we be away? Thankfully, we have dear friends who graciously offered us the most ideal home away from home. With community space, growing things and the best vibes, things felt a little more secure. With all visitors safe up the coast, the management had more decisions to make back at Kanekiki, in lava-land.
Originally we hoped to have a few core members stay at the farm to keep an eye on the land, but talk of mandatory evacuation was buzzing throughout Papaya Farms Rd. We were hearing all kinds of stories of people not only losing homes, but looters stealing valuables before their owners could claim them. We had recently made more than $25,000 in investments into our systems and farm equipment, and felt we couldn't afford to lose it to looters. So, we decided to pack up everything of great value to us, and find appropriate storage until we could safely return.
On behalf of the management I would like to thank everyone who lent a helping hand. We moved (what felt like) mountains of solar panels and a grand total of 24 salt-water solar batteries, each weighing over 200 lbs (90+kg). There were various other heavy systems and appliances as well, all of which could not have been moved without the help of the our dedicated Kanekiki crew.
After moving heaven and earth, all that was left to do was wait and pray. Every night, from our temporary perch on the Hamakua Coast, we could see the violent red glow, captivating and terrible, of Fissure Eight, mere miles from Kanekiki. Every day we checked the progress of the lava, and wondered when things would be "normal" again. Now, more than three months since the start of the eruption, we are seeing a lull in the Kilauea's activity. We are unsure yet if it is simply a temporary pause, or the beginning of the end of this eruption period.
This is why it is difficult to say when we will be back to offering our normal programs at Kanekiki. As much as we want to believe that the lava has stopped and won't come back for a long time, it's still too early to get excited. However, we don't intend to leave the farm unattended any longer than we have to, and we're are currently making plans to return on a smaller scale.
With a lot of help, we hope to bring Kanekiki back in better shape than ever. Though the eruption has been a shock, we recognize that these tremendous shifts are perfect opportunities for cleaning out what is not serving us, and bring in more of what does.
And we do need help! We are currently looking for work traders with work or farming experience. Kanekiki alumni are welcome! If you're interested in helping us out in this time of transition, please consider reaching out to us. If you're wanting to help, but cannot commit to work or traveling to Hawaii, we have a GoFundMe (special thanks to our kanekiki family <3) that has been so helpful in paying our continuing and unexpected expenses. If you feel it in your heart to donate to the upkeep and recovery of Kanekiki, we would be honored and truly grateful.
If you are waiting for an Internship or Guest Trading program, we will do our best to let you know as soon as we are ready to accept visitors again. Hopefully, it won't be long now before Kanekiki Community and Farm is growing and thriving again.
Thank you for all the well wishes and prayers through it all, it has been a blessing to receive the love and care, even from afar.