A Volcanic Rift Has Erupted On Hawaii's Big Island, Devasting Local Communities

Late Thursday afternoon, a crack in a volcanic rift zone erupted on the eastern side of Hawaii’s Big Island, spewed molting rock and hazardous gases from the ground and forcing people to evacuate their homes, according to CNN. The eruptions have continued into late Friday morning.

The destruction is near Leilani Estates, a community of about 1,700 people. Residents of this community are now ordered to evacuate to one of two community centers, where the Red Cross has opened shelters.

The Hawaii Fire Department has warned residents that there are "extremely high levels of dangerous Sulfur Dioxide gas detected in the evacuation area. Elderly, young, and people with respiratory issues need to comply with the mandatory evacuation order and leave the area."

Thursday evening, Governor David Ige signed an emergency proclamation that authorizes the state to use money for quick and efficient hurricane relief.

“I am in contact with Mayor Harry Kim and Hawai‘i County, and the state is actively supporting the county’s emergency response efforts. I have also activated the Hawai‘i National Guard to support county emergency response teams with evacuations and security,” he said in a press release.

Hundreds of earthquakes have have occured on the eastern side of the Big Island in the past few days, and residents knew an eruption was possible. However, this doesn’t make it any less devastating.

"We knew it was coming, and even now it's ... really surreal at this point," Meija Stenback, resident of Leilani Estates, told KITV.