Many of you may be following the recent lava flow from the Pu’u O’o vent of Kilauea volcano on the eastern side of the Big Island of Hawaii. This has been an active vent in the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (HVNP) since 1983 with numerous flows, mostly downhill from the hill (pu’u), over the cliff (pali) towards the Pacific Ocean. In the 1990’s this same vent caused the destruction of the Royal Gardens Subdivision (over 100 homes) and the village of Kalapana, which had a beautiful, famous black sand beach and warm springs. Back in 1960, this same volcano opened up in a fountaining geyser and destroyed the village of Kapoho, which also had a warm springs.
A recent 6/27/14 flow from Pu’u O’o has gone toward the east and northern direction, and is now 12 miles long, approaching the town of Pahoa (population 1,000). Many of the wooden structures in that town may be destroyed (as the lava approaches the heat of 2,000 degrees F it causes the buildings to burn and melt), the roads will be covered by lava, power lines may go down and electricity may be cut off. Since this is a slow moving flow (about 200 to 400 yards per day), there is time for people to evacuate their homes, businesses, move livestock, etc.
The lava flow crossed Apa’a Street/cemetery road early this morning and is heading toward the village. This is the back access road to the transfer station and town cemetery, mauka (upslope) from the main village.
But many people will become homeless, unemployed, displaced, and traumatized. Public utilities will be affected and curtailed as the County of Hawaii and the State of Hawaii (and the U.S. Government) move forward with their evacuation and recovery efforts. Pahoa High& Intermediate School (7 to 12) is in the vicinity of this flow, and school classes may be disrupted, as well as Pahoa Elementary School (K to 6). Evacuation notices from Hawaii County Civil Defense may be forthcoming to residents makai (downslope) of this lava flow.
UPDATE: evacuation notices have been issued to some residents, to be out by Tues. Oct. 28. See copy of notice below being delivered house to house.
Ancient Hawaiian legend believes that a fire goddess Madame Pele is in control of the volcanoes on the Big Island. You can find many stories over the centuries about the genealogy of Pele and her volcanic activities on the Big Island (the only active island in the Hawaiian island chain).
For updated news (and some photos):
Hawaii Tribune-Herald, www.hawaiitribune-herald.com
Honolulu Star Advertiser, www.staradvertiser.com (statewide coverage)
HVNP eruption updates: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/activity/kilaueastatus.php
Check their FB pages as well for updates –for those on you using FB. There’s also a “Lava Awe group” on FB that is posting diverse information for residents and followers of that page and Madame Pele. There is another group called “Lava Tracker” which has terrific up to date aerial photos.
Stay tuned, as this is a fluid lava flow, and potentially very destructive.
Carolyn’s note: I grew up on this active volcanic Big Island (though far away on the northern tip), but I have experienced numerous earthquakes and have personally seen many lava flows and fountaining geysers. I have even been within a meter of some flows as the park rangers do allow visitors up close viewing when it is safe in the HVNP.
UPDATE: evacuation notice to some Pahoa area residents on 10/25/14