At a rate of 10 to 15 yards per hour, the molten lava of Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano is advancing inexorably toward the 950-population town of Pahoa, Hawaii, prompting evacuations and safety warnings.
Some residents, however, want to fight back, and have been asking local officials about the possibility of diverting the flow. Native Hawaiians, tired of hearing this diss against the goddess Pele—and against their culture—took to the podium at one public meeting in September to explain just why the people who live on Hawaii’s Big Island should simply … let it flow. Be grateful, they said, that you got to live on her land for the time that you did. And welcome her.
“Pele doesn’t work like that,” said one woman. “We are home preparing for an important guest.”
Pele lives here, and she suffers people’s presence, she said. It’s all well and good for outsiders to come in and print up and sign deeds awarding the land to themselves, buying and selling. But “we will never own our land. This is Pele’s home,” the speaker said. And given that, one does not come in and tell Pele where she can go.
“If she feels that she needs to clean her house, then let her clean her house,” said another woman of Pele.
The speakers earned cheers and applause from the hundreds who attended the meeting, one of six being convened to keep the public informed of the lava’s progress and the measures being taken to maintain safety.
CNN reports that the lava could reach the town by Wednesday or Thursday, October 29 or 30, and that although some people have evacuated, no official order is yet in place. The molten rock was about 350 yards from homes as of late Tuesday night, Troy Scott of the Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency told CNN. He added that those who wanted to stay and “have their closure” by saying goodbye to their homes as the lava engulfed them would be able to do so from a safe distance, telling CNN, “We’re going to be very sensitive to the fact that they’ll be losing their home, and this would be a catastrophic event.”