Here's How To Help Hawaiians Near The Volcano That’s Erupting — From Wherever You Are

by Joseph D. Lyons
Handout/Getty Images News/Getty Images; Salvation Army/Twitter

An eruption of the Kilauea volcano on the eastern edge of the island of Hawaii has left dozens homeless, and thousands more are being kept from their property for their own safety. A mixture of lava bubbling to the surface of the land and noxious gases in the air have made whole neighborhoods uninhabitable. So far locals are safe, but property damage has affected entire families. Here's how to help Hawaii volcano victims during this time of need.

There's currently no estimate for when the tremors and lava flows from Kilauea will stop. The volcano has been erupting almost continuously since 1983, and it's the Big Island's youngest and most active volcano, resulting in a large lava flow.

That's not great news for residents in the area. There's no way for many to get back to their homes — even just temporarily to salvage what's left. "The best way to protect yourself and your family from the extremely dangerous volcanic gases is to leave the immediate area of the volcano defined by the police and fire department," a statement from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency read. Store-bought masks do not offer protection.

Many have found temporary relief living with friends or family, but those who have lost everything will need all the help they can get. About 1,700 people were evacuated from the neighborhood of Leilani Estates, and 26 homes were destroyed, according to The Washington Post. Consider these steps to show those displaced by the Hawaii volcano that you care.

1) Stay Away From The Area

If you're in Hawaii, make sure not to get in the way of emergency officials — or those locals who may be given a tight window to go back to their homes and get their things. "Please, the residents of Leilani need your help," the Hawaii County civil alerts read. "This is not the time for sightseeing. You can help tremendously by staying out of the area."

2) Find A GoFundMe Campaign

Take a look at some of the GoFundMe pages that have been set up specifically for the families that have lost their homes in the disaster. This can help them buy elsewhere, rebuild, or replace other material items that were lost to the lava flow and fires.

3) Make Sure Your Donations Go To The Right Place

Don't just drop off donations to the shelter nearest you, and definitely don't send canned food from the mainland to whatever address you find online for the Big Island. Instead, follow the directions of the Hawaii County government and contact the Salvation Army to find out the best way to route your donations, including food.

4) Give To The Red Cross

The Red Cross of Hawaii is already running two shelters and housing some 260 people. You can donate directly online.

5) Support Kids And Families Through Local Institutions

A nonprofit in the area that has started providing help to families affected by the disaster is Child & Family Service. You can donate to them online directly. One local bank, First Hawaiian Bank, is trusting the NGO; the bank donated $50,000 to relief efforts that will be distributed by Child & Family Service, Hawaii News Now reported.

6) Volunteer At A National Park

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park was closed following the tremors from the erupting Kilauea volcano so that rangers could assess the safety of trails. Consider volunteering to support the park in the weeks and months to come.

7) Fight Homelessness

Even if every family that lost a home in the aftermath of the eruptions were housed, homelessness would still be a problem in Hawaii. Help end homelessness by giving your time or money to Hope Services Hawaii. They're based in Hilo, just up the road from the areas affected by the eruption.

More help will certainly be needed in the days and weeks to come. Make sure to pay attention to updates from local officials, as the needs of those displaced may change as time goes by.