PAHOA » Mayor Billy Kenoi signed an emergency proclamation Thursday as residents of Hawaii island’s Kaohe Homesteads subdivision learned that lava from Kilauea Volcano was just 0.8 of a mile away and could reach them within a week.
"We’re feel like it’s Pele doing what Pele does," said two-year Kaohe Homesteads resident Graywols Claire after a packed meeting Thursday night at the Pahoa High School cafeteria. He was referring to the volcano goddess. "We’re staying until it’s burning."
Piilani Kaawala of Pahoa said at the meeting: "You cannot change the direction. It’s Mother Nature. What we need to do is work together and help each other out. That’s the only way we’re going to survive the lava flow is if we work together and share aloha."
On Thursday, volcano scientists estimated that lava could reach Kaohe Homesteads within five to seven days.
Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira estimated that more than 30 families live on rural and agricultural lots in the subdivision.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory upgraded the alert level from a watch to a warning on Thursday. A warning means a hazardous eruption is suspected, imminent or underway.
County and state officials ordered nonresidents to stay out of Kaohe Homesteads as Civil Defense workers went door to door to update residents and help them prepare.
Oliveira emphasized that lava was not visible from Kaohe Homesteads and there was no reason for nonresidents to be in the area.
"This is a difficult and stressful time for Kaohe residents, and we ask that everyone show respect and understanding for our Kaohe neighbors," Oliveira said in a statement.
The so-called June 27th flow is the most recent from the eruption that began Jan. 3, 1983, in the East Rift Zone of Kilauea Volcano.
It’s also the first to threaten homes since 2010-2011 and is advancing at a rate of about 820 feet per day.
Steam rising from an underground crack suggested that lava was moving below the surface.
Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Scientist-In-Charge Jim Kauahikaua said the flow is headed northeast and was quite active. As of Thursday afternoon, the lava had advanced 400 yards northeast from the crack.
"It’s good news because it will spread out and move slowly on the surface," he said.
Kauahikaua said the tip of the crack is 4.2 miles from Highway 130 in Pahoa. Since it’s moving at about 800 feet a day, it could reach Highway 130 in about a month. If it goes out of the crack on the surface, it would take a couple months, he said.
Hawaii County Public Works Director Warren Lee said county officials are looking at different ways of getting in and out of the area if the lava flow cuts Highway 130.
Robert Romstron said before the meeting that he owns 29 acres of landin the Kalapana area near Kaohe Homesteadsthat he planned on selling. He had hopedto get $180,000 for it. Now he’s not so sure, he said.
"Mother Nature is going to do what she is going to do and we’re just going to have to deal with the consequences."
"Pele is our kupuna. She is our ancestor," Ihilani P. Niles of Puna said during the meeting. "Like my tutu said, knock it off already. Sorry to you guys, but we’re not diverting her. If she feels like she needs to clean her house, let her clean her house."