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UPDATE: Mayor Kim Announces Change in Emergency Procedure

May 30, 2018, 5:18 PM HST (Updated May 31, 2018, 11:31 AM)
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UPDATE: May 31, 2018

A copy of Mayor Harry Kiim’s evacuation order can be downloaded here.

ORIGINAL POST: May 30, 2018, 5:18 p.m.

During the Puna Community Meeting on Tuesday, May 29, 2018, at Pāhoa High School Cafeteria, Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim told attendees that first responders will no longer go door to door warning residents of the threat of lava flows in the restricted evacuation zone in Leilani Estates Subdivision.  

Emergency officials mark properties on Kahukai Street in restricted evacuation zone in Leilani Estates Subdivision with yellow emergency tape, marking homes officials have already evacuated on May 30, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard.

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Mayor Kim said that on the nights of May 28 and 29, 2018, first responders performed rescues within Leilani Estates Subdivision.

“We must, as best as we can, allow your life to continue as best that you can and to make rules around that,” Mayor Kim explained. 

Emergency officials have marked homes that are evacuated with yellow emergency tape in the restricted evacuation zone of Leilani Estates, May 30, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard.

“The easiest thing I want you to understand that government usually does is seal off the whole area and say everybody out,” said Mayor Kim. “A couple of road blocks here and there and that’s it. But to me, that’s the worst thing that we can do for you.” 

Yellow emergency tape on a propane tank gate post on Luana Street in Leilani Estates after emergency officials mark homes that have been evacuated, May 30, 2018. PC: Crystal Richard.

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Mayor Kim said that after the two nights of emergency rescues back-to-back, he decided on May 29 that new policies were needed.

“I can no longer afford to put residents at risk,” said Mayor Kim. “I can no longer ask of DOCARE, police, fire, national guard to go banging in the dark in a neighborhood they don’t know to say you must get out.” 

Fissure 8 of the Kīlauea Volcano Lower East Rift Zone Eruption on May 30, 2018, from Luana Street in Leilani Estates in Puna on Hawai‘i Island. PC: Crystal Richard.

“We cannot guarantee you we will go door to door anymore,” stated Mayor Kim. “All I know is nature is taking its course. Our job is to recognize that, stay out of harms way and help each other through this adjustment.”

Crystal Richard
Crystal Richard moved to East Hawai’i in 2005 to attend UH Hilo. While earning her bachelor’s degree in English and a certificate to teach English as a second language, Crystal served as the editor-in-chief of “Hohonu,” UH Hilo’s academic journal, and as assistant editor-in-chief at “KeKalahea,” UH Hilo’s student newspaper. From a young age, Crystal fell in love with the written word and has always dreamed of a career in journalism. She has worked as a Big Island Now freelance reporter since September 2016. She is a wellness and health advocate who enjoys swimming, gardening, reading and spending time with her animals and loved ones.
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