Flooding Update

The Hawaii Department of Civil Defense has extended its Flash Flood Warning until midnight. Highway 11 remains closed between the 58 and 59 mile markers (Kawa Flats) in the Ka’u District between Pahala and Na’alehu.

Flash Flood Warning Issued; Hwy. 11 Closed in Ka’u

From t County of Hawaii Civil Defense:

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Warning for Hawaii Island effective through 12:30PM this afternoon.  Heavy rain fall is expected in various areas of West Hawaii from South Kona through North Kohala.  Many of these areas have experienced significant rainfall over the past days and may be prone to flooding.

 Due to heavy runoff and flooding, Highway 11 near the Whittington Beach Park in Kau  is closed to all traffic.  The road closure extends from Punaluu to Naalehu.  Motorists are advised to avoid the area and to use alternate routes if possible.  All other major highways and roadways are open at this time, however motorists are advised to drive carefully and to be prepared for hazardous conditions to include  ponding and runoff, and to anticipate traffic delays.

 The Flash Flood Watch for Hawaii Island remains in effect.  Due to unstable weather conditions and very moist air across the state, the flash flood watch will remain in effect through 6:00 p.m. tonight.

Park Reopens Campground, Back Country

With Tropical Depression Hilda slowly winding down and forecast wind speeds decreasing, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials ha have re-opened all previous storm-related closures within the park.

 The backcountry areas and summit of Mauna Loa, the remote coastal sites from ‘Apua Point to Ka‘aha, Hilina Pali Road and Kulanaokuaiki Campground, Mauna Loa Road, and Namakanipaio Campground and A-frame cabins are now open. Heavy rain is still expected through Saturday, however, and park visitors should drive with caution. A flash flood watch is still in effect for the entire island.

The park has, however, extended its closure of the 700-foot exit trail from Thurston Lava Tube, as workers repave the trail following the replacement of an underground power cable. The lava tube remains open, and the trail that leads into it will be used as both exit and entry. Escape Road, from Highway 11 to Thurston Lava Tube, will continue to be closed during the repaving project. The paving project  is scheduled to be completed by Fri., Aug. 21.

Shark Attacks Tourist at Hapuna Beach.

From the Hawaii Police Department:

A Kansas man suffered a shark attack today,  (Wednesday, March 18) at Hapuna Beach Park, forcing  swimmers out of the water.

According to the Hawaii Police Department, “A 58-year-old man from Overland Park, Kansas, had been snorkeling with family at the south point of the beach when a shark bit him on the arm. He was assisted to shore and taken to North Hawai?i Community Hospital, where he was treated for severe lacerations to his left forearm and injury to his left thigh.”  The attack occurred shortly before noon.

Helco: Outages Nearly Over

Hawaii Electric Company reported at 11 a.m. today that it had restored power to about 800 more customers, and that it was working on restoring power to  approximately 300 remaining households in  Nanawale, Leilani Estates, Ainaloa and “a few pocket outages in the Puna area.”  It expects to have power restored to all households “by tomorrow.”

A bulletin from Hawaii County Civil Defense this morning advised that some lower Puna a residents could expect continued outages “through this week” because of extensive damage caused by what it termed “last week’s wind event. ” The Pohoiki Road will be closed to local traffic only to allow for HELCO and other utility crews to work to restore lines and poles. Motorists are advised to exercise caution in the area and to use alternate routes if possible,”  it announced.



Parks and Rec Declares War on Fire Ants

The Hawaii County Department of Parks and Recreation has received a $50,000 grant from the Hawaii Tourism Authority to eradicate little fire ants, and it’s wasting no time putting the money to use.  The department only announced the grant yesterday, but today it announced that Hilo’s Kawamoto Swim Stadium would be closed on February 5 to treat it for the tiny stinging pests.  Future ant-eradication targets for the program include Richardson Ocean Park, Pana`ewa Rainforest Zoo an Gardens and Liliu`okalani Gardens.

Little fire ants are considered to be one of the worst invasive species worldwide. In recent years, they have spread to tropical environments around the world, from Florida to Israel to Papua New Guinea.  The ants are about as long as a penny is thick, but their sting can cause a burning rash as large as a human hand. Unlike many ant species, little fire ant queens do not fly; they spread mainly by “hitch-hiking” in potted plants and in transported soil and soil amendments.  For more information about them, see the Hawaii Ant Lab’s Web site.

Pahoa Lava Viewing Area Closing Jan. 31

From Jason Armstrong at Hawaii County Parks and Recreation:

The County of Hawai‘i Department of Parks and Recreation will stop operating the P?hoa Lava Viewing Area at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, January 31.

Located at the P?hoa Transfer Station, the free viewing area is being shut down so the facility can be converted back to its original use as a public trash-collection site.

It also is closed today, January 27, and will be closed again on Thursday, January 29, so schoolchildren displaced by recent lava activity may take field trips to the viewing area and see the stalled front.

Lava News: Puna Community Medical Center Packs Up

From Dan Domizio, Puna Community Medical Center:
Yesterday, December 16th, Civil Defense walked door to door in our Pahoa Marketplace and gave us the order we all knew was coming, “Prepare to Evacuate!”. The evacuation order proper would be coming in the next few days. The gas station was pumping out the last of it’s fuel (premium only at $3.80/gal, all the rest was already gone), the supermarket is closing and packing out today, the ACE Hardware and Lex Brodie’s Tire center will be gone by tomorrow. As I pulled into gas up, I realised that I was encountering the first immediate consequences of the lava. Today, there will be no gas and the tanks will be filled with a foam and water mix to prevent explosions, and essentially make them unusable for the forseeable future.

Today, a 40 foot shipping container donated by Matson Lines will be parked next to our “Annex”clinic. The new clinic space we have been hastily creating out of a 3 bedroom appartment about a mile away on the south end of Pahoa Village, is a day or two away from being “operational.”  We will be packing up our current clinic, and either putting the supplies and equipment to use in the annex, or storing it in the container where it will wait to see how things sort out over the next days/weeks/months. The entire transition is fearsomely complicated, involving our ability to provide services, the lives of our staff and our clients, the hemorrhaging of our financial reserves, and the threat to the very survival of this town. To be doing this at all seems surreal, to be doing under time pressure is simply nuts.

As I write, it seems clear that no matter how circumstances twist and turn in the immediate future, life will never be what it was before. The community will likely be dealt a serious if not fatal blow. The Clinic and the lives that have revolved around it for the past 5+ years, will survive and continue to offer services, but the fabric will be a new and unproven one. We can only be certain that our optimism and dedication will remain intact and that PCMC will continue to be an inspiration and a fine example of how a community can, in fact, organize to meet its own needs.

Happy Holidays!

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Pahoa Holiday Parade, Ho`olaulea This Saturday

From Mark Hinshaw:

The P?hoa Holiday Parade and Ho’olau’lea takes place this Saturday, December 6 on P?hoa Village Road, starting at P?hoa High School at 9:30 a.m. and continuing to Post Office Road. Our theme is “P?hoa, Center of the Punaverse”. This year’s Grand Marshall is Mayor Billy Kenoi.
Road closure for the parade route will occur at 9 a.m. so people are encouraged to get their cars parked before the closure if they want to be in the heart of the action. The County will open the parking lots at the Neighborhood Facility and the Swimming Pool at 7 a.m. There is no street parking available along the parade route.
Immediately following the parade, there will be a Ho’olau’lea in the heart of P?hoa with a vendor fair, FREE Santa photos for all keiki, entertainment, the Sacred Heart Holiday Fair and merchant specials.
MainStreet P?hoa Association is committed to helping our communities enhance the economic vitality and quality of life of P?hoa and Lower Puna. We are actively involved with the Mayor’s Office, Civil Defense, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the County Council and our state legislators as well as the Visitor’s Bureau.
Come out and join us in celebration of P?hoa, Center of the Punaverse.

CONTACT INFORMATION: MainStreetPahoa@gmail.com
Mark Hinshaw 965-7403

Lava Report: Pele Stays Away; Pahoa Road to Open in “A few days.”

The lava flow remains active, but well upslope of Pahoa, prompting the county finally to “initiate” opening the closed section of Old Government Road, a.k.a. Pahoa Village Road, that’s been closed between Apa`a Street and Post Office Road. But the the road may still be closed to through traffic for a few more days.

“The reopening of the Pahoa Village Road will be initiated starting tomorrow Monday, November 24th, and may take a few days to complete,” said County Civil Service in its morning report. “Utility crews will begin to remove the protection placed around the utility poles and this work will require the road to remain closed while equipment is operating in the area. ”    Mayor Billy Kenoi, at a lava briefing last week, expressed a belief that the road would be reopened by Thanksgiving.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Civil Defense staff reported new lava activity in the flow near Pahoa, but  breakouts continue in the mauka portion of the flow’s tube system. According to HVO, the lowermost active breakout had pushed to within about 3.6 miles mauka of Apaa`a Street, near the old True Geothermal drilling site in Wao Kele O Puna Forest Reserve.

This morning’s Volcano Watch column, written by HVO staff, noted such interruptions were “typical” of pahoehoe flows, and that while the current stalling of the flow near Pahoa was “good news in the short term,” the flow still represented “a potential hazard to downslope communities. ”  The column also noted that it was “unclear how far lava will be able to reoccuyp the tube or where renewed surface flows might head.”

Below: false-color image from NASA’s Earth Observing 1 satellite shows high-temperature areas indicating active lava breakouts in red.  Photo courtesy of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.


Lava News: Post Office Road Reopens 2-Way; Beware Smoke in Ainaloa, HPP

Police announced this morning that Post Office Road in Pahoa, which had been closed to ingressing traffic in order to facilitate evacuations since  lava first approached Pahoa, has been reopened to two-way traffic.  The leading edge of the flow remains stalled about 170 yards north of Pahoa Village Road, though active lava outbreaks continue upslope, one of which continues to slowly fill in the lower truck road at the former transfer station/recycling/reuse center. Smoke from burning asphalt and vegetation continue to be “moderate to heavy,” and a light south wind may be pushing it toward the Ainaloa, Hawaiian Paradise Park and Keaau, according to Civil Defense, which advises those with respiratory problems and smoke sensitivity to observe precautions and stay indoors.

–Alan McNarie

Below: the slowly advancing flow at the recycling center.  Photo from Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.



Lava News: Morning Update, Wednesday, 10/29/14

According to Hawaii Volcano Observatory, the leading edge of the flow “continues to advance northeast towards Pahoa Village Road through the first residential parcel it entered” at a rate of  about 5.5 yards per hour:  “If the flow continues in this manner, we expect it to cross Pahoa Village Road between Apa`a St and Post Office Road.”  County Civil Defense reported at 8:15 p.m.  that the flow had advanced about 90 yards since 6:30 last night and was a bout 280 yards from Pahoa Village Road. Civil Defense estimated that the rate of  flow was averaging about 10 yards per hour.  Smoke conditions were “moderate” with trade winds pushing the smoke to the south and southwest.  What’s burning right now includes “a variety or material” including old tires. Those with respiratory problems are advised to “take precautions and to remain indoors.” An evacuation advisory remains in effect for those located downslope from the flow.

The Pahoa Village Road between Apa’a Street and the Post Office Road remains closed and limited to area residents only. Civil Defense advises that  drivers “should use caution and slow down on Highway 130 near the Post Office Road intersection. Residents of the restricted area should not bring unauthorized persons into the restricted area.”

The Red Cross has opened a shelter for those who need to evacuate, including those who need to leave because of respiratory problems, at the Church of a Sure Foundation at 16-1592 Pohaku Circle, off of Highway 130 between Keaau-Pahoa Road and Pohaku Place.   The shelter is open 24/7. Cots are available, but bring your own pillows and additional blankets if needed. Pets in carriers are allowed.  For more information, call .

Lava News: DOE Press Release on Public School Closures

HONOLULU – The Hawaii State Department of Education (DOE) is closing some schools ahead of the rapidly advancing Kilauea lava flow on Hawaii Island. The pace of the flow has accelerated the implementation of DOE’s contingency plans, which will affect about 1,700 students and 300 employees beginning this week.

Mary Correa, complex superintendent for Ka‘u, Kea‘au, Pahoa, has announced that beginning Wednesday, October 29, there will be no school for students at Keonepoko Elementary School. This is to allow DOE faculty, staff, administrators, facilities’ teams enough time to complete administrative work in preparation of the new facility to receive students. The work will also include moving the school, furniture and equipment to the Keonepoko North facility at Kea‘au High School from Wednesday through Friday, October 29-31, and longer as needed. Wednesday will mark the indefinite closure of Keonepoko as it is in the anticipated path of the lava flow.

Additionally, beginning on Thursday, October 30, there will be no school for students at Pahoa High & Intermediate, Pahoa Elementary, Kea‘au High and Kea‘au Middle to allow administrators, faculty and staff from those schools to help with administrative work and prepare for the transition of students affected by the move.

About 850 Pahoa students who reside north of the flow (Orchidland, Ainaloa, Hawaiian Paradise Park) are moving to the Kea‘au complex. About 850 students who reside south of the flow (Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Shores, Nanawale, Leilani, Kalapana & Pahoa) will attend Pahoa High & Intermediate or Pahoa Elementary and report to school on Monday, November 10. Bus pickup sites will be disseminated tomorrow.

The Pahoa secondary students moving to Kea‘au complex will report to their new campuses at Kea‘au High and Kea‘au Middle on Friday, November 7. Keonepoko and Pahoa Elementary students who are moving will report to their new school at Keonepoko North on Monday, November 10.

The students who remain at Pahoa High & Intermediate, and Pahoa Elementary will report to school on Monday, November 10. Students who are currently enrolled at Kea‘au High and Kea‘au Middle will return to school on Monday, November 10.

View Puna Lava Flow schools in a larger map

??“Our teachers and principals have been tremendous in their efforts to maintain a sense of normalcy in our schools, all while preparing for this week,” said Correa.

Last month, the DOE announced it was allowing teachers and students to continue teaching and learning, while making plans to accommodate them at alternate sites.

The DOE and its teams have been working with many in the community to erect a temporary school to be named “Keonepoko North” for elementary students at Kea‘au High’s parking lot that would accommodate at least 17 classrooms.

“The flexibility of our staff, the cooperation of our families, and the collaboration with Hawai‘i County agencies have been instrumental in making these adjustments for all schools,” stated Schools Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi.

Keonepoko and Pahoa High School will remain as election polling sites for the General Election on Tuesday, November 4.

About the Hawaii State Department of Education
The Hawaii State Department of Education is the ninth-largest U.S. school district and the only statewide educational system in the country. It is comprised of 255 schools and 34 charter schools, and serves more than 185,000 students. King Kamehameha III established Hawaii’s public school system in 1840. The DOE is in the midst of a range of historic efforts to transform its public education system to ensure graduates succeed in college or careers.


Lava News: Pele Parts the Polling Places

Ed. Note:  When we published this earlier today, we missed a key word in the the press release from the Hawaii Election Commission.  People can still vote absentee in the general election, but they needed to have requested an absentee ballot by 4:30 this afternoon.  The Chronicle regrets the error–AM

Today is the last day to request an absentee ballot.  But if voters in Puna choose to do it the old fashioned way on November 4,  they may may find their precincts were altered by the Pele Partition.

The Hawaii Elections Office has announced that residents who normally Pahoa Community Center (04-03) who live  north  of the lava flow will vote at Hawaiian Paradise Community Center (04-01) on general election day.
“The flow is expected to cross Highway 130, cutting off access to voters living in Ainaloa and Orchidlands Estates,” said Chief Elections Officer Scott Nago. “We’ll be providing poll workers at Hawaiian Paradise Community Center with the poll books and ballots to allow voters in these communities the opportunity to vote on November 4.”

An estimated 2,000 voters are affected by this move.
Voters that still have access to the Pahoa Community Center may still vote there.
In preparation for the lava flow, county election officials mailed absentee mail applications to voters in the area and set-up an early vote location at Nanawale Community Center which is open through October 31, 2014. Acording to a Department of Education press release, polling places at Keonepoko and Pahoa High School will remain open for the General Election even though classes on November 4th will be canceled there due to the lava crisis.

Absentee applications must be received by the County Clerk’s office no later than 4:30 p.m. today. Applications are available at post offices, libraries, satellite city hall, county clerk offices


Lava Update, Monday Evening: First residence 70 Yards Away; Schools to Rearrange Themselves; The THele On Abandons Downtown Pahoa

Lava has been progressing slowly all day–Hawaii Volcano Observatory reported at 5:30 that it had been moving at the rate of 8-11 yards per hour today, but Civil Defence reported at 7 p.m. that it had been advancing 5-10 yards per hour since 2:40. The flow has spend most of the day in pastureland and woods, but as of 7 p.m. it was about 70 yards from the nearest residence.  If the flow continues at its rate of  this afternoon, it could be parallel to or on top of the nearest residence before dawn.

The closure of Old Government Road (Pahoa Village Road) between Apa`a St. and  Post Office Road has prompted the County’ s Hele On Bus to abandon Old Government Road and downtown Pahoa entirely, providing no service along its former stops between Long’s Drugs and Pahoa High/Intermediate School.   New stops have been established along Highway 130 at the Pahoa Police/Fire station, Malama Market and the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences, and on Highway 132 at the New Hope Church Sign.

More on what’s open and what’s not:

Keonepoku Elementary School will close indefinitely on Wednesday, Nov. 29, and the entire school will be moved to temporary facility at Kea’au High School.  School will be canceled at Pahoa High & Intermediate, Pahoa Elementary, Kea‘au High and Kea‘au Middle beginning on Thursday, October 30, in order to “allow administrators, faculty and staff from those schools to help with administrative work and prepare for the transition of students affected by the move.”  Secondary students who live on the Kea’au side of the flow and currently attend Pahoa High and Intermediate will report to Kea’au High School or Kea’au Intermediate School on November 7;  school will resume for the remaining students on November 10. Keonepoku and Hilo Primary School students living on the Kea’au side of the flow will also report to their new school, dubbed Keonepoku North, on November 10.  The Chronicle will have a more complete report on the school situation tomorrow.

A sign at Ning’s Thai Restaurant in downtown Pahoa said that it was closed while the owners were on vacation in Thailand.