A former New Mexican who is supposed to be enjoying retirement in paradise says he was forced to flee and leave his home behind.
Harry Messenheimer is the founder of the Rio Grande Foundation. He has been in Hawaii living in a once beautiful subdivision that is now a lava field, yet he says he feels blessed.
“I went running back down my driveway and I said ‘We got to get out of here,'” Messenheimer explained.
He says that in a panic, he and his wife were given mere minutes to grab what they could and leave their Hawaii home.
“We have two cars, got the dog, don’t forget the dog, and off we went,” he said.
A week later, the once New Mexico residents are among the thousands still evacuated from their piece of paradise.
The Kilauea volcano first started spewing lava last Thursday destroying dozens of homes.
The slow-moving lava was the last thing Messenheimer saw as he left his lush two-acre property where he has spent the last 11 years of retirement.
“At that point, my neighbor comes driving up the street and says ‘the eruption has started, the eruption has started,’ so I look down about a 1000 feet away and there’s the lava,” Messenheimer explained.
He says he never thought lava would threaten his home, at least not any time soon.
“Although some people wondered ‘why do you live downhill from an active volcano?'” he said.
Last week he says the cracks in the street and tremors got more and more concerning.
“You hear about these disasters and you think what would I do in a situation like that, well I’m finding out,” he said.
It is an unreal experience for someone who spent a decade living in Albuquerque’s East Mountains.
“Who knew what was going to happen, I mean it was just scary,” he said.
While his home is still standing, his neighbors haven’t been so lucky.
“I regret what’s happened obviously. I’m sad about that and actually almost more for my neighbors than I am for me,” he said.
For now, Messenheimer and his wife are staying at a friends house.
They were already looking to downsize into a condo but that will not be ready until this fall.
Messenheimer’s neighbor is crediting him for saving the cat.
He picked him up a few days after he evacuated when he went back to get some more things.