Madame Pele’s most recent period of high activity has affected people across Hawai‘i Island, in many cases with devastating effects on lives and well-being. While we do not lose sight of these effects, and we do what we can to help our ‘ohana, the fact remains—and perhaps it’s a bit uncomfortable to recognize—that the 2018 eruption of Kīlauea has produced some of the most visually beautiful content of our planet in a transition both destructive and creative.
Some 27,000 photos and video later, taking some time to reflect on documenting this year’s eruption has truly helped to process a lot of the intense range of emotions felt throughout 100 days of volcanic photojournalism. It is difficult to describe how it felt like to be led by something beyond the forces of our human existence. It was the unseen that kept all of us safe when approaching harm’s way. I believe it was the same unseen presence that brought our community together in a way that would have never bonded had it not been for something so incredibly incomprehensible. This short documentary captures the first hour of Day 1, till my last remaining overflights on Day 100, observing massive geological change.
Thank you for being a part of this journey together.
On May 3rd, I opened my car door to the first minutes of Fissure 1 opening up on Mohola Street. The rest of the 100 days following was something unimaginably devastating to capture.
Here are some of those flashes of experience from a year ago. Some that I have yet to personally share until now:
Deadly pockets of SO2 gas. Warm embrace of strangers. Concussive explosions. Cinder raining on the car. Glowing depths of methane cracks. Hands shaking in terror. Rapid swaths of lava consuming intersections. Crying on the shoulders of friends and my mom religiously. Skin cracking from continuous acid rain. Jet engine roars of steam and gas rapidly escaping. Piercing beeps from gas monitors. Military convoys providing smiles. Days when wind cleared the air of gas and you could see the sky again. Vortexes of heat and wind blowing sharp ash into eyes. Safety in numbers. Shortness of breath when you couldn’t breathe. Widening cracks too large to cross. Thousands of plates of food served to our community. Not sleeping for 36 anxious hours. An unimaginably fast-moving lava river. Herding sheep and cattle via car and helicopters. Ikaika Marzo rolling up with plates of spaghetti in the middle of the night. Falling trees and house foundations. Propane tanks on fire. Prayer flags. A deep, bright, and haunting orange night sky. Endless donations to Puna. Last hours of Kapoho. Creating new communities online. Relying on our Hawaii Tracker team to keep me safe in the field. Hands rescuing heirloom furniture. Hale family of Pohoiki. Kindness without words. Burning oil from asphalt. Concussive booms felt in the chest from Fissure 17. Primordial beauty. Generosity of businesses and individuals. Howling of trapped animals. Bone-chilling chants and hula. Sounds of lone smoke detectors in evacuated homes. Resilience of native flora. Seeing the best come out of people without hesitation. And the incredible beauty of a community floating back to the surface together.
My respect and best wishes go out to the neighborhood of Leilani Estates, Lanipuna Gardens, and the areas within and between Kapoho. My heart especially goes out to all who have lost their homes in this fissure eruption. I am at a loss for words.
Mahalo to Arc'teryx, Other World Computing, Information Technology Disaster Resource Center (ITDRC), and those very special individuals who donated equipment and/or funds to help support my efforts in the field. A portion of 2018 Eruption Relief print sales through my website at: andrewhara.com/2018eruptionrelief will be donated to help support our local community in Hawaii.
Thank you to everyone for your continued support, love, and camaraderie. I am sending my love to each and everyone one of you for doing your part in this larger whole. I still cry often when I see or go through images from last year. It's been quite a feat to work on allowing the light to return from such a great loss.
From the top to bottom of my heart, thank you for your courage, unparalleled aloha, and thoughtful words to help all of us push through such a difficult year together.
Andrew Richard Hara