June 27 Lava Flow Update For Friday, Sept. 12
About 600 people gathered in the Pahoa High School cafeteria Thursday night where Hawai’i County officials gave the latest news on the June 27 lava flow.
With the flow about 3.1 miles from Pahoa Village Road and .2 miles from the Forest Reserve/Kaohe Homesteads boundary, speeches from Mayor Billy Kenoi and Darryl Oliveira, Hawai’i Island’s Civil Defense director, focused on road construction and safety.
Officials said the flow is expected to hit Highway 130 near the Pahoa Marketplace by Sept. 24-26 if it continues along its current path.
County officials are preparing for that possibility and began construction on Railroad Avenue and Beach Road Thursday. Construction on Government Road begins on Saturday.
The roads, if needed, will be used for emergency access for people living in lower Puna.
Construction is estimated to cost anywhere from $800,000-$1.2 million, and Kenoi said it will be finished by Sept. 24.
Kevin Dayton, executive assistant to the mayor, said if the lava were to cut off Highway 130, about 8,000 people could be trapped.
Oliveira said if the lava crosses Highway 130 and hits the ocean, officials will look into opening Chain of Craters Road.
Oliveira also said an evacuation may be ordered Friday for Kaohe residents depending on the outcome of their next overflight investigation.
However, Dayton said no evacuation was issued as of Friday afternoon.
A Civil Defense overflight showed the lava is still about .2 miles from the Kaohe Subdivision and is closest to the northwest corner of Kaohe.
Dayton said that area is made up of 284 acres of vacant state land.
The flow was recorded 9.2 miles from the vent and the actual length of the flow is about 10.5 miles.
Between Sept. 6 and Sept. 10, the lava advanced at approximately 400 meters per day.
Between Sept. 10 and 11 the rate dropped slightly to approximately 300 meters a day.
The flow front is still in thick forest, creating smoke plumes as it engulfs trees and other vegetation, but fires are not spreading away from the flow.
Some residents spoke out at the meeting about their concern with smoke exposure.
The Hawai’i State Department of Health issued a press release last week suggesting residents living near the flow avoid outdoor activities or physical exertion.
People with respiratory illness or heart disease, older adults and children are urged to avoid smoke exposure, and smoke may worsen symptoms for individuals who have pre-existing respiratory conditions, such as allergies, asthma, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
There will be a lava flow informational fair Saturday, Sept. 13 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Pahoa High School Cafeteria.
Representatives from public agencies, private companies, and community groups will be available to answer questions about transportation, moving, storage, insurance, finances, legal matters, health care and more.