East Hawaii News

Civil Defense to Hold Pahoa Meetings on June 27 Lava Flow

August 22, 2014, 7:45 PM HST
* Updated August 23, 9:40 AM
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***Updated on Saturday, Aug. 23 at 9:40 a.m. to correct the dates for next week’s community meetings in Pahoa.***

Hawai`i County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Olivera told Big Island Now Friday that his agency will be holding community meetings in Pahoa to update the community on the June 27 lava flow that the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory says could impact homes and infrastructure “in weeks to months.”

“We are scheduling community information meetings, so starting on Monday, we’ll be meeting in the Pahoa community at 6:30 p.m. in the Pahoa Community Center,” said Olivera. “We’re looking at having a series of meetings so for people who might not make one, they could come to others.”

The other community information meetings will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 26 and Thursday, Aug. 28. The meeting time and location are the same as Monday’s session.

“It’s to give the community an opportunity to ask Dr. Jim (Kauahikaua) and myself, or others there, about the status and if they’re are any discussions of what is the possible impact,” Olivera explained.

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Olivera’s agency, already stretched with overseeing restoration efforts following damage done by Tropical Storm Iselle, has been working with the HVO over the last several days to monitor the lava flow.

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The front of the flow, which is named by the date it started to erupt, was 10.7 km (6.6 mi) northeast of its vent on the flank of Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō on Kīlauea Volcano’s East Rift Zone.

“We had a briefing with Dr. Jim (Kauahikaua) on Wednesday and then they did a overflight this morning,” Olivera said Friday. “Wedneday afternoon, it was discussed that we would wait for today’s overflight so they could give us a more clear picture and even a forecast.”

Both Civil Defense and HVO stress that the lava threat is not immediate, but past data and forecast projections are already being looked to keep all bases covered.

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“If it turns a little bit, it could go into an area that has very little impact on the community,” said Olivera. “It could stall, like we saw with the Kahauale`a flow that stalled and started and stalled and started.”

Olivera mentioned that major roadways like Highway 130 going into Pahoa and the Pahoa-Kalapana Highway could be impacted, depending on the track of the lava flow. Energy sources could also be affected in an area where most residents have just gotten back online after Iselle’s wrath knocked power out to customers for two weeks. About 200 people remain without power, according to a release Friday by Hawai`i Electric Light.

“If it affects the main electrical transmission system, then you could have parts of the island without power,” said Olivera. “Also, if it affects municipal water supply, that would be another critical utility that would be affected.

“Right now, until we have a better idea of its track, if it’s going to stay on its course or turn in any way. the impact could be wide-ranging from affecting critical infrastructure and multiple subdivisions to just affecting maybe a very low populated area if it was to turn in any particular direction and cross certain roadways at certain points.”

Kauahikaua told Big Island Now that the HVO plans another overflight Saturday morning. If necessary, another flight will go up on Monday.

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