HI-EMA deploys team to support Hawai‘i County during Mauna Loa eruption
Hawai‘i County is getting support from the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency in the emergency response to the ongoing eruption of Mauna Loa.
The state emergency management agency deployed a team to Hilo to assist. At the same time, the agency is coordinating analysis of potential consequences to the Big Island economy, infrastructure, transportation network and other effects if the eruption were to eventually damage Daniel K. Inouye Highway or other significant systems.
“While the lava is moving very slowly at the moment and doesn’t pose an imminent hazard to populated areas, it’s still a hazard with huge destructive potential,” said Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency Administrator Luke Meyers in a press release. “We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t work to define the possible impacts and recommend ways to reduce or eliminate them.”
Meyers traveled on Thursday to Hilo with a Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency team to meet with County officials and the Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency team, which has been activated 24 hours a day since the eruption started Sunday. Meyers also took part Thursday in a 2.5-hour overflight of the eruption area with the Civil Air Patrol.
“This was a good opportunity to see the hazards and threats from the Mauna Loa eruption,” he said in the press release. “It really gave me a better perspective of the situation and where the lava flow is going.”
The four-person Emergency Management Assistance Team deployed to Hilo will support Hawai‘i County Civil Defense, helping with operations, planning and logistical challenges during the eruption. The team also will help ensure any needs the County identifies can be quickly matched with available resources and data.
Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency personnel also coordinating with experts to assemble a framework for addressing the immediate and long-term consequences should the lava eventually damage or destroy part of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, power lines or other crucial systems.
“Cutting the highway or other critical infrastructure could affect economic activity, increase commute times, complicate delivery of goods and services or a whole host of other potential consequences,” Meyers said in the press release. “As part of [Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency’s] support role, we’re developing a blueprint that can be used to anticipate and mitigate those consequences, and maybe even prevent some of them.”