Volunteers have made heroic* trips back to homes near the Kilauea volcano to rescue a Noah’s Ark* of dogs, cats, geese, ducks, cows, goats, horses, cattle and birds left behind when their owners fled.
The rescues might have been just in time, as volcanic activity intensified* two weeks into the crisis*.
Faster-flowing lava has destroyed more homes, with some flows moving 274m an hour and lava spraying 100m into the air. Lava streamed across a highway into the sea over the weekend, creating clouds of toxic* steam and ash. A man was seriously injured when a piece of molten* rock hit his leg while he was sitting on his third-floor balcony.
Evacuated residents are unlikely to be able to return to their homes any time soon, so they’re particularly relieved to be reunited with their pets.
The animal-friendly Red Cross shelter in Pahoa, a town about 40km east of the volcano, has about 100 dogs and 30 cats, along with bunnies, birds and pigs, said Burgandy Singleton, a Hawaii Island Humane Society volunteer. “Quite the crazy farm right now,” Ms Singleton said.
“We are housing everything from wee little creatures to ginormous* beasts and no trouble. With that many personalities mixing it up, it’s been amazing.”
Some of the owners are camping outside with dogs, she said. “It gives them a sense of home and keeps them as peaceful as possible. This is definitely stressful on the pets as well as the people.”
Rescuers first collect addresses and pet names from owners at the shelters. They then go into the abandoned* neighbourhoods with owners looking for the pets and setting out food and water, hoping to lure* in hungry animals.
“Ideally, we take the owner back in so they can hear a familiar voice and we can hand-trap them,” rather than luring them into cages, Ms Singleton said.
“We are trying every trick from every book.”
At another animal shelter in Pahoa, tents have been set up inside to give families some privacy and keep dogs away from each other, Ms Singleton said. A donation table at the entrance was piled high with bags of dry dog food and cat litter.
“This is the reason I live in this community,” Ms Singleton said. “The offerings and the help has been unbelievable.”
Some of the larger livestock are being housed at the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens, which has taken in 30 to 35 cattle and horses. The community is helping to feed them.
Rescue groups have moved more than 1300 head of cattle and 36 horses, some of which have been herded to a farm to the north, out of danger. The livestock are even more jittery* than the house pets, Ms Singleton said. “From the earthquakes to the smoke and lava to the helicopters overhead, they are just spooked.”
Ms Singleton said it was important for pets to stay with their families. “They both get something from it. Sometimes they have lost every single thing they own other than that dog or cat. It’s the one piece of home they still have, the one piece holding them together. And the pets feel the same way.”
THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT HAWAII’S KILAUEA VOLCANO
- Kilauea volcano is the most active of five volcanoes on the Island of Hawaii, also called The Big Island. The island is the biggest of a group of islands that together make up the US state of Hawaii.
- Lava has flowed into the streets around Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens neighbourhoods, which are about 19km from the volcano. About 2000 people have been evacuated.
- Lava comes out of the ground through fissures, which are holes or splits that open up. Most of the lava has been slow-flowing, but it is still very dangerous and destructive as it can reach 1150C.
- In recent days volcanic activity has changed as new magma* mixes with magma from 1955, causing hotter and more liquid flows.
- Kilauea has been erupting constantly for 35 years. Most of the eruptions are a type called effusive eruptions, which means they flow continuously without exploding.
- There was a powerful 6.9 magnitude earthquake on the volcano’s south side two weeks ago, which caused a cliff to collapse into the ocean. Scientists are predicting more earthquakes and eruptions for several months.
Hawaiians flee volcano’s lava and toxic gas
- heroic: act of a hero
- Noah’s Ark: a story from the Christian religion about animals escaping a flood on a wooden boat, or ark
- intensified: became more serious
- crisis: intense difficulty or danger
- toxic: poisonous
- molten: melted
- ginormous: huge
- abandoned: left behind
- lure: attract
- jittery: nervous and shaking
- magma: hot liquid below the Earth’s surface that becomes lava when it comes to the surface
LISTEN TO TODAY’S STORY
- How was the man seriously injured?
- Who is Burgandy Singleton?
- Why is the livestock spooked?
- Why is it important for the pets to be with their owners?
- How many people have been evacuated so far?
1. Describe it
“The livestock are even more jittery than the house pets,” Ms Singleton said. “From the earthquakes to the smoke and lava to the helicopters overhead, they are just spooked.”
It certainly sounds scary! Under the following four headings make a list of words or phrases to describe things the animals would be experiencing: Sights, Sounds, Smells, Sensations (feelings).
Each list must have at least 5 words or phrases in it (so a minimum of 20 in total).
2. Extension: Using words from the lists you created above, write a descriptive paragraph about what is happening in the volcano-affected zone.
Time: Allow 20 minutes
Curriculum links: English
The glossary of terms helps you to understand and learn the ambitious vocabulary being used in the article. Can you use the words outlined in the glossary to create new sentences? Challenge yourself to include other VCOP (vocabulary, connectives, openers and punctuation) elements in your sentence/s.
Have another look through the article, can you find any other Wow Words not outlined in the glossary?
HAVE YOUR SAY: IN ONE SENTENCE, TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THIS STORY
Please do not use one-word answers. Explain what you enjoyed or found interesting about the article. Use lots of adjectives.