ROGUE RIVER, Ore.– As the earthquakes subsided, many had hoped that had been the worst of it. However, on Saturday, thousands of people on Hawaii’s Big Island were evacuating their homes as the Kilauea volcano began to release high levels of sulfur dioxide and molten lava into neighborhoods.
“You’d kind of calm down and then you’d just be sitting there and everything would start shaking,” said Barbara Evensizer
She and her husband, Doug Filer, are currently in southern Oregon, visiting family and friends. However, they had just left their home the day before the lava began to flow. The earthquakes hadn’t been too troublesome for them but things have gotten a lot worse.
They said evacuation had never been the plan. It was supposed to be a fun trip to the mainland after marrying and settling in their new home two years ago. But now, plans have changed.
“We had this trip planned to come back here before all this started,” said Filer. “It was just coincidental that the day we left was the day that they came in and told everybody in our area they had to evacuate.”
Living just a few miles east of the Leilani Estates, a neighborhood where lava began spewing out of fissures in the ground, the chances their house could be hit are high. They’ve tried to reach out to friends and neighbors to hear what is happening but everyone has been evacuated from the area.
It’s a double-edged sword for the couple who were lucky enough to escape the toxic fumes and lava but weren’t able to grab any important or sentimental items.
“We left basically with just our suitcases so all our worldly possessions were still there and our dog,” said Filer.
A neighbor was able to rescue their dog but even he eventually had to evacuate his home. Now, Barbara and Doug are worried about what could happen next.
“It’s very terrifying right now. We don’t know what we’re gonna see. What’s going to happen,” said Evensizer.
The couple plan on returning Thursday and staying at a motel with other evacuees. Their hope is their home is still intact. But they may not know right away.
“We won’t be able to return to our property. They’re already talking in terms of two weeks from this point – minimum – that they would be looking at allowing people to come back in,” said Filer.
For now, Barbara and Doug are praying everyone else stays safe.
“Devastated but we have each other,” said Evensizer. “There’s no lives that have been lost yet so that’s the main thing. You hear this a lot but all that stuff is material stuff.”
They both nodded their head in agreement.
“Property can be replaced,” said Filer. “But lives can’t.”
NBC5 News Reporter Miles Furuichi graduated from Chapman University with degrees in English and Journalism. He received post graduate experience in Los Angeles in photojournalism and commercial photography. He also spent time in Dublin, Ireland working in print journalism and advertising.
Miles is a Rogue Valley native, raised in Ashland. He enjoys hiking, mountain biking and photography.