Puna News — Officials Expected To Declare Lava Warning In The Next Couple Days

imageBy Tiffany Edwards Hunt

If the lava continues its current course along the East Rift Zone, in the next day or two USGS officials will issue a warning to Ka’ohe Homesteads residents.

Tonight’s meeting at Pahoa High and Intermediate School cafeteria marked the second week USGS officials have held community meetings to update the community about the June 27 lava flow that has been traveling an average of 800 feet per day. Ka’ohe Homestead residents have been encouraged to have an evacuation plan in place. Those with livestock and pets are being encouraged to relocate them to available pastures and stalls elsewhere.

USGS and County Civil Defense officials will host another community meeting at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 4, at the Pahoa High and Intermediate School.

Tonight officials indicated they have plans that will be initiated once the USGS warning is issued. As an aside Civil Defense noted that will be when they begin working on “alternate routes.”

There was talk about the opening of Chain of Craters Road, which Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira said would cost millions of dollars and a multi-agency effort being that the road traverses the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

Oliveira also noted in answering a community member’s question about alternate routes, indicating a route between Opihikao and Nanawale Estates.

There was indication that officials may be planning for the flow to continue along its current course straight along the rift zone.

But on the sideline of the meeting, there was a USGS official who helped to clarify the uncertainty of the flow. In Ka’ohe Homestead are the remnants of an 1840 lava flow, which could serve as a natural diversion. The Northeast is the low-lying area beyond the East Rift Zone. Clearly, with lava there is a number of possibilities.

There was some heated moments at tonight’s meeting that packed the school cafeteria. One elderly woman challenged the response from both USGS and Civil Defense that diversion attempts wouldn’t be made. A man had inquired earlier about the possibility of bombing the lava to divert it away from Ka’ohe Homestead. Oliveira had noted the potential liability of diverting Mother Nature to another route, and also the cultural sensitivity. The elderly woman questioned why Hawaiians are opposed to diversion. She seemed to think that the cultural reasoning for not interfering with Mother Nature was not serving the greater good, and she challenged the no-diversion stance. The crowd grew intolerant of the woman’s question and many started voicing it. “Go back to where you came from!” someone yelled. Officials were able to transition the crowd back to the issue at hand, but then stopped taking questions very soon after.

7 replies
  1. Hazen Komraus
    Hazen Komraus says:

    Lava flows, calls for bombings and racism, oh my! Puna you never fail to let your colors fly. How bout maybe we pull together instead of infight in moments of need huh? That’s what i saw in Seaview during and after Hurricane Iselle. If the lava comes it will hurt us all. Let’s not make it worse. Fear divides us, we must not live by it.

  2. sada anand kaur
    sada anand kaur says:

    This is third public meeting within the last month where fear, anger became violent, verbally/physically.
    We can & must do better than this. We are community family.
    Everyone is on edge following Iselle & aftermath, it’s time to come together as never before. Find our common concerns, voice them in a calm manner, take action to remedy or, at least, assist each other in our recovery process. Tantrums & abusive actions are not our way out of our real concerns here.

  3. Greg
    Greg says:

    Aside from the liability and cultural aspects; Diversion is futile. On the rift of a Shield Volcano, attempting to divert the lava is like trying to get water to flow in one direction through a sponge.

    Lets face it; Kilauea will someday be as large as Mauna Loa, and Puna will be covered with new land. It could take one year, or hundreds. If you live here without taking that into consideration, you’re not adequately prepared.

  4. Rene Siracusa
    Rene Siracusa says:

    The “elderly woman” actually said (in her strong German accent) that she didn’t see why we always had to be culturally sensitive… we shouldn’t let Hawaiians dictate response when our property is endangered. She didn’t seem to understand that bombing Kilauea is equivalent to bombing someone’s church or temple. And her property is not even threatened. I live in Ka’ohe Homesteads on the side closest to the flow, and I strongly disagreed with her.

    There was no fear or anger that became violent. Her remarks were not popular. I heard hissing. The audience indicated its displeasure with her position.

  5. Steve
    Steve says:

    While hugely expensive diversion has worked in iceland where they used dozens of giant seawater pumps to cool the advancing lava creating a dam that diverted lava around a coastal fishing village. Practical here? Probably not. But an alternative far better than bombing i would think. It has been done.

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