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Officials Outline Recovery Plan for HVNP

August 28, 2018, 1:45 PM HST
* Updated August 30, 2:35 PM
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Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park reports that most of the park closed on May 11, 2018, due to increased volcanic and seismic activity of Kīlauea Volcano.

Kīlauea Summit, Aug. 2018. PC: Crystal Richard

Over the next 12 weeks, large lava flows covered land southeast of the park destroying over 700 homes and devastating residential areas in the Puna District. At the same time, the summit area of the park was dramatically changed by tens of thousands of earthquakes, towering ash plumes and 62 massive collapse explosions.

The events caused profound damage to park infrastructure unprecedented in the park’s 102-year history, including building damage, rock falls, deep cracks in roads and trails, and numerous breaks to water and sewer lines.

The last collapse explosion occurred on Aug. 2. During this lull in volcanic activity, the park is making emergency repairs that will allow employees to return to the park. Since that time, park staff responded to two powerful hurricanes and a dangerous wildland fire that burned over 3,700 acres.

HVNP is looking to reopen soon. PC: Crystal Richard

Stages of Recovery

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On Aug. 21, Superintendent Cindy Orlando announced the goal of opening some closed areas by Sept. 22. Although it is too early to forecast what exactly will be open, visitors should expect limited hours, limited visitor services and limited access to previously popular areas. Over the coming months, the park will take the following steps:

  • Damage assessments – the park is forming a professional damage assessment team including geomorphologists, civil and structural engineers, cultural and natural resource specialists, and others. Roads, buildings, waterlines and other infrastructure will be inspected and assessed to determine complete repair needs and costs.
  • Planning and prioritization – damage assessments will identify immediate repair needs as well as larger, more long term and complex repairs that will need to be made and likely cost millions of dollars. This will form the basis of the park recovery and related funding strategy. The park will prioritize repairs that can be made by existing park staff and resources to safely open areas as quickly as possible while planning for longer term repair needs. Planning decisions such as the decision to rebuild certain roads and facilities will be guided by the park General Management Plan (pdf 82.7MB).
  • Immediate repairs – after the assessments, park staff will complete repairs needed to safely reopen areas of the park, especially waterlines, roads, and key buildings such as the Kīlauea Visitor Center.
  • Reopening – following damage assessments and essential repairs, the park will open limited areas and facilities to the public. Other areas will be opened in subsequent phases as additional repairs are completed.
  • Recovery – longer term recovery will continue after reopening. Depending on available funding and ground stability, some areas such as the Jaggar Museum, sections of Crater Rim Drive, and trails in and around the Kīlauea summit crater may remain closed for years, relocated, or not reopened.

Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. PC: Crystal Richard

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Latest Updates

  • Aug.  21: Superintendent Cindy Orlando announced the park has set a goal of reopening some closed areas by Sept. 22.
  • Aug. 22: A National Park Service geomorphology team began evaluating seismic stability of areas damaged or potentially weakened by earthquakes. Results will determine where it will be safe for visitors to go.
  • On the afternoon of Aug. 22, the park temporarily paused recovery efforts in preparation for Hurricane Lane.
  • Aug. 24: the geomorphology team resumed park assessments.
  • Aug. 27: assessments continue as a park interdiciplinary team met to review initial findings and prepare reopening plans.

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