• 01 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    The leading edge of the lava flow is still stalled, but advancing breakouts on both side are broadening the swath of destruction. As of 5:15 p.m., one lobe of lava on the Kea’au-side flank of the flow was within about 219 yards of catching up with the stalled flow front, and one on the Kalapana side was within 55 yards of the flow front.  The Kea’au-side lobe was moving at abut four yards per hour; the Kalapana-side lobe,  about 6 yards per hour.  Hawaiian Volcano Obervatory noted that the Kalapana-side lobe was ” being confined by artificial barriers, which may be influencing its advance rate. ”

    Another  breakout,  descending through pasture below the cemetery was described as “weak to moderate, with a minor amount of expansion of the flow margin.” That flow had not  “advanced significantly, and  remained about 109 yards from a house next to the pasture, according to HVO.

    HVO reported that  final lobe of lava was stalled at its margin of the old transfer station.

    Civil Defense has not issued any reports since about 8 a.m.


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  • by Alan McNarie

    Puna is becoming two towns. County Officials are already referring to the “North Puna Fire Station,” for instance, for the new station on the Kea’au side of where Pele is expected to drive her lava wedge through the village, and plans are underway for separate police and fire stations on the Kalapana side of the flow.   If the Pele Partition comes down where it’s expected to,  then she could not have split the town in two much more neatly: on one side, the shopping centers clustered around the bypass; on the other, the old downtown and its funky little private businesses and family restaurants, the labors of love and the personal dreams. But that division started long before Pele made her appearance. It began when the bypass was put around the town, really for no good reason except to create some prime real estate property. You could call the two towns “North Pahoa” and “South Pahoa,” but I think better names would be “New Pahoa” and “Old Pahoa.”

    I arrived in Pahoa–Old Pahoa–yesterday morning for the first time since the lava crisis started.  I’d been working frantically from my home in Volcano, trying to get people the best possible information based on press releases and phone interviews, but that is just not the same as being there.  It was time to see for myself.

    What surprised me, actually, was how normal the town seemed on the surface, despite the police barricades and the incessant drone of helicopters.  Some children were already out in Halloween costumes, taking advantage of the lava-related school closings to do some early trick-or-treating. Most of the businesses remained open.  Some had posted defiant signs, stating their determination to stay and their love of the town:  Dr. R. J. Lozano, for instance, has posted a red heart-shaped sign outside of Pahoa Chiropractic with the message “WE ARE STAYING.”  Next door, Jeff Hunt Surfboards, where I was  headquartering for the day, supplemented its sale signs with a little hand-written sign that said, “We Love Pahoa.”   All of the restaurants except Sukothai and Ning’s were open, and a sign on Ning’s announced they would reopen on Nov. 1.  Employees at many other businesses, including First Hawaiian, told me they’d keep their doors open “As long as we can.” As they said it, they were usually smiling, but with sad eyes.

    The ones who who  appear least committed to the community seem mostly to be involved  with loans or pawn. Pahoa Buy and Sell has a notice on its door that reads: “Due t the lava flow, hours may change or be closed due to the emergency.”  Pay Day Loans has already bailed out: A sign on their former door says, “Due to the lava flow, our office will be closed until further notice,” and refers customers to their office on Pauahi St. in Hilo, where customers’ personal files have already been moved.

    Those who remain face some real challenges, even if the flow doesn’t swallow downtown.  Catarina Zaragoza of the Locavore Store, which sells only locally grown food,  noted that when Pele finally came down, many of her store’s suppliers would be on the other side of the lava divide, and the the store would face uncertainties about everything from power  to electronic banking: “Logistically, it becomes very hairy,” she summarized.  So yesterday was the last day for Locavore’s  brick-and-mortar (well, wood and tin)  store in Pahoa.  They’re looking for a new retail space in Kea’au or Hilo.  But they’re not abandoning their customers and suppliers on the other side of the Pele Divide.

    “We’re going mobile,” says Zaragoza.  The  business will  make deliveries on the Old Pahoa side and pick up produce from their suppliers there.  “We do have a plan,” she emphasizes.  “We’ve not forgotten. We’re not bailing.”

    Some have  even seen the lava crisis as a business opportunity.  Pahoa Video has just opened in a new, more spacious location in the building that formerly housed the Emporium.  And the used book store has reopened under a new owner: Roy Lozano’s son Arjuna.  The former owners are keeping their Hilo store on Waianuenue Street,  and moved some of their stock there, but you couldn’t  tell from the shelves of the Pahoa store: they’re as crammed with books and DVDs as ever. Napa Auto Parts remains undeterred in its plans to open its new Pahoa Store, too: front end loaders were busily stacking big boxes of inventory in front of the store yesterday.

    And the town has lost none of its trademark quirkiness.  At the 3 p.m. Civil Defense press briefing, one resident showed up carrying his pet chicken; another appeared in a white ski-mask  with a Guy Fawkes mustache drawn on it. The latter might have caused a police overreaction in other places, but county and state officials handled it without losing their cool; a National Guard officer  moved over to where the man sat, asked a couple of smiling questions, and wished him a happy Halloween.

    At the briefing, officials fielded questions not only about the current status of the lava, but about the  future of services for the estimated 8,200 to 9,000 residents expected to be left on the Old Pahoa side of the flow. Civil Defense Chief Darryl Oliveira said three helicopters would be available for medical evacuations, and  starting on November 1st a third fire company would be stationed at  “North Pahoa Fire Station; if and when lava crossed the road, a 7-man fire company would be stationed on the Old Pahoa side.  Oliveira didn’t have exact figures for police presence on the far side of the flow, but he expected police to be putting a “full force’ there–a statement that didn’t offer much comfort to some residents, who have complained for years that the entire Puna district was under-served.  Social media in recent days have carried several reports of looters, suspected looters,  people arming themselves to loot, and people arming themselves to deter looters.  I sent HPD spokesperson Chris Loos an e-mail, noting those reports and asking if the police had any plans for bolstering their presence in Lower Puna.  Her response: “Those FB looting stories don’t seem to be true.  Police report that burglaries in the area are down from last year at this time.”

    Time will tell what happens as the lava advances and more houses are left empty. Meanwhile, Punatics seem to be exercising their usual mix of individualism, self-reliance and aloha. There could be a lot worse traits to have in a situation like this.




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  • 01 Nov 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    According to  Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, as of the leading edge of the flow had not advanced, but scattered breakouts had been observed in “numerous areas behind the stalled flow front.” The lobe extending  from downslope of the Pahoa cemetery and had “reached private property on Friday afternoon continued to advance by about 5 meters (6 yards) per hour overnight,” according to HVO . “Additional breakouts in the pasture along the flow’s southeast (Kalapana) side have been particularly active overnight,” moving downslope at about 11 yards per hour during early morning hours this morning.  Breakouts  the north edge of Kaohe Homesteads have extended by an 380 yards.  But County Civil  Defense maintained, in its 8 a.m report, that none of the breakouts presented “an immediate threat to area residents.”

    According to HVO, the summit deflation of yesterday began reversing itself, late yesterday afternoon and, but the levels of the lava lake in Halemaumau remain substantially below what they were before the deflation episode began.


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  • 31 Oct 2014 /  Uncategorized

    The lava flow front is still stalled, though a number of breakouts are active upslope, including one about 40 yards fro a residential structure on the south side of the flow and another is about 25 yards from the fence of the transfer station on the north side. The couple residing in the residence has moved out.

    At the summit, the lava lake continues to recede. According to Jeff Sutton of Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, summit deflation can correlate with reduced activity at the end of the flow within a couple of days.

    Despite efforts to protect power poles on Apa`a Street, lava still burned through the base of one pole.  HELCO crews managed to cut the pole loose from the line,  and the line remains suspended above the flow. Extra protection is being added to threatened  neighboring poles.









  • 31 Oct 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news


    The leading edge of the flow remains stalled about 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road (Old Government Road, but the flow is fattening up upslope, threatening structures there.  According to Hawaii Volcano Observatory, “The lobe downslope from Volcano Observatory was active overnight in a forested area, burning trees and causing “numerous” methane explosions. A new, small breakout on the Pahoa side of the flow above Apa`a Street burned a cattle shed that held salt blocks. A lobe on the north side on the Kea’au side of the flow advanced overnight to within 44 yards of the old Transfer Station  and the street, but was advancing at the rate of only a little over a couple of yards an hour.

    From Hawaii Volcano Observatory: the flow as of yesterday.  The active lobe near the old Transfer Station, lower left, has advanced since this map was made.


  • 30 Oct 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    According to Hawaii Volcano Observatory,  as of five p.m., the current leading edge of the flow remained stalled about 170 yards above Pahoa Village Road (Old Government Road).  But the leading edge was still “inflated” with some small breakouts just behind it, so “it is possible that the flow may advance again without warning.” Meanwhile a lava hand pushed its way out of the Kea’au-side edge of the flow about 110 yards downslope from the already-inundated  Pahoa Cemetery, and was coming down alongside the existing flow.  HVO called that breakout the “major locus” of the flow at present. Another breakout near the old Pahoa Transfer Station was also still active, advancing at a rate of 8-9 yards per hour.  It was about 110 yards above Apa`a Street as of 5 p.m.

    The lava pool at the summit was deflating  today, with a drop of several yards in the lava lake at Halemaumau. Such deflation,  HVO noted, was “often linked with a decrease in the eruption of lave from Pu`u O`o”–the eruption that’s feeding the lava flow near Pahoa–which could lead to less activity at the flow front “in coming days.”‘

    County Civil Defense has issued no new bulletins about the flow since 2:45 this afternoon.




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  • According to a mid-afternoon report from Civil Defense, the flow “continues to remain active  however has not advanced since 6:30 this morning, the front area has shown signs of widening with breakouts along the flanks or margins. Currently the flow front is approximately 60 yards wide. The flow front is currently 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road. A new breakout located upslope from the flow front on the north side is active and advancing in a northeast direction and will be monitored closely.”

    There have been no updates from Hawaii Volcano Observatory since early this morning.

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  • 30 Oct 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    From Hawaii Police Dept.:

    The Puna police station in Pahoa remains open and police have no plans to close it.  A misleading news report wrongly implied that the Pahoa station was no longer occupied.

    If and when lava blocks access to the Puna station to residents of lower Puna, police will set up a secondary location somewhere on the south side of the lava flow. That location has yet to be finalized.  Police will continue to patrol all occupied areas of the Puna District.

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  • 30 Oct 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    The leading edge of the lava flow is continuing to advance northeast towards P?hoa Village Road through the first residential parcel it entered.  Civil Defense reported at around 8 a.m. that the flow was  then “160 yards or approximately 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road.”  Civil Defense reported that the lava was moving at less than  yards an hour at that time.

    Some of the action is happening elsewhere, however.  In a 9:35 report,  Hawaii Volcano Observatory noted that  “Two active breakouts were noted on the west side of the flow just upslope from Apa`a St.”  The first breakout started about 167 yard upslope from Apa`a Street and had moved about 110 yards downhill on a front about 55 yards wide : “This breakout looks like it is headed for the ranch house (the one with the “not our cattle” sign)…and may threaten a second utility pole.” The second started about 385 yards  upslope of Apa`a St. and had  pushed out about 55 yards.  HVO also reported that  the lava flow lobe on the Kalapana side of the flow was “weakly active” about 66 yards upslope from Cemetery Road, with “small breakouts on interior of the lobe” but no activity on its margins.

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  • 30 Oct 2014 /  agriculture, BULLETINS, Lava Reports

    If you have to move but can’t take your horse, call Bird McIver at 987-9064.  Bird runs a nonprofit called CB Horse Rescue, which has been helping island horses and donkeys for years. ” We rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome horses in need,” she says.  “Hopefully people will call before the situation gets to the starvation point.”

    If anyone else has room for animal evacuees, let us know and we’ll post a notice here at BIC.

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  • 29 Oct 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    The lava flow continues to advance northeastward through private property above Old Government Road (Pahoa Village Road)  Hawaii Volcano Observatory’s 5:52 p.m. report said that the  leading edge of the flow had moved about 136 yards in the past 24 hours,  and  had advanced through the afternoon at about 11 yards per hour.  Civil Defense’s 5:30 p.m. report estimated the rate of advance at  5-10 yards per hour.

    HVO estimated that as of 4:15 pm,  the flow was about 202 yards in a straight line distance from P?hoa Village Road and about 850 yards  from Highway 130.

    Two small breakouts  small breakouts on the north side of the flow that have advanced  about 75 to 120 yards in the past day, broadening the overall flow, which remains only about 55 yards across at its leading edge.  The overall shape of the flow is much broader further upslope, due in part to cumulative breakouts; just because a house was missed by the initial flow doesn’t mean it’s out of danger.

    From Hawaii Volcano Observatory: “This map uses a satellite image acquired in March 2014 (provided by Digital Globe) as a base to show the area around the front of the June 27th lava flow. The area of the flow on October 28, 2014, at 1:00 PM is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow as mapped on October 29 at 11:30 AM is shown in red. The dotted blue lines show steepest-descent paths in the area, calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model.”

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  • 29 Oct 2014 /  Uncategorized

    According to the Web site for Kua O Ka La New Century Public Charter School, plans to “be operating on both sides of the lava flow once it crosses the highway.”

    The school is already been using the Hilo Boy’s and Girl’s Club on Haile St. in Hilo  for one of its programs, and plans to use that site as a campus for  students on the Hilo side of the Pele Partition if the flow crosses the the road. The school is also “in the process of establishing transportation routes on both ‘sides.’”  The school is also waiving bus fees for its students.

    The school is seeking inputs from parents and students about how it can best serve them during the transition. For more information, go to the school’s Web site.

    The school’s main campus  is located at 14-5322 Kapoho-Kalapana Rd. (the “Red Road) on the Puna coast.

  • 29 Oct 2014 /  BULLETINS, Closures, Lava Reports, news

    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 .

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  • 28 Oct 2014 /  Correction

    Earlier today we ran a story about changes in the polling places due to the lava crisis.  In it, we misinterpreted an Elections Commission press release, and said that October 28 was the last day to vote via absentee ballot.  That was incorrect.  Today was the last day on which voters could request an absentee ballot.  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.

    We regret the error.

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  • 28 Oct 2014 /  BULLETINS, Lava Reports, news

    According to County Civil Defense’s 6:15  release,  lava was 370 yards from Pahoa Village Road.   Hawaii Volcano Observatory’s report, issued a few minutes before, pegged the flow’s position  as of 5:30 p.m. at 340 yards from Old Government Road and 985 yards from Highway 130.   Civil Defense said the flow was averaging 10-15 yards per hour; HVO simply said the rate of advancement was “variable” but had reached speeds of up to 71 yards per hour. The flow front is currently moving in a northeast direction and has entered a private residential property, burning not just brush, but items such as old tires.  Caution is advised for those with respiratory problems.

    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 808-853-8221.

    Above: With permission from the property owners, HVO supplied this photograph of lava pushing its way through a corrugated iron fence to enter private property near Pahoa.

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  • The Hawaii Academy of Arts and Sciences’ main campus in Pahoa will be closed Wednesday through Friday, October 29-31, while school officials work on the public charter school’s response to the lava crisis.

    A shortened version of the school’s draft Lava Contingency Plan is available here.