Volcanic activity in the Leilani Estates subdivision in Puna abated somewhat Saturday, allowing Hawaii County officials, emergency responders and residents a welcome respite to regroup.
The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported that no new outbreaks of lava from Kilauea appeared on Saturday, and county officials said the eight existing fissures in Leilani Estates that were responsible for the destruction of five homes “went quiet” in the early afternoon.
The roughly 1,800 residents of Leilani Estates and the nearby Lanipuna Gardens subdivision are still subject to Thursday’s evacuation notice due largely to concerns about high levels of toxic sulfur dioxide fumes.
>> More volcano coverage: https://808ne.ws/2FIMk5c
>> Additional Kilauea eruption photos: https://808ne.ws/2HPRl22
>> Nanawale Estates photos: https://808ne.ws/2JTo8jm
>> May 4 Pahoa community meeting photos: https://808ne.ws/2rnMEBw
>> Timeline of Kilauea eruption, earthquakes: https://808ne.ws/2IkFJUh
>> Leilani Estates home goes up in flames after lava strikes
>> Lava on the move in Leilani Estates
>> East Hawaii residents brace as 6.9 quake hits
>> AP: Hawaii volcano jolts with lava, quakes and gas
>> Lava flows from Leilani Estates fissure on May 4
>> USGS footage of second fissure opening in Leilani Estates
>> USGS footage of third fissure opening in Leilani Estates
>> Crack opens in road, lava flows in Leilani Estates
>> Puu Oo vent empties
More than 200 people have been staying at a pair of shelters set up by the American Red Cross and the county Department of Parks and Recreation. As of noon Saturday, there were 152 people at the Pahoa Community Center, with 40 to 50 staying in their cars in the adjoining parking lot, and 24 people at the Keaau Community Center.
Talmadge Magno, administrator of Hawaii County Civil Defense, said officials are looking at the possibility of allowing some subdivision residents to temporarily return, perhaps as soon as today, to “take care of their animals and get important documents.” However, he stressed, they would not be allowed to stay.
“We want them to come out,” he said.
In other developments
>> Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park remained closed overnight. The park was evacuated Friday afternoon following a magnitude 6.9 earthquake in Puna. Park staff checked trails, roads and buildings within the park on Saturday and found only minimal damage. Officials said the park could reopen today if conditions remained unchanged.
>> The public is being asked to refrain from dropping off food, money and other types of donations at shelters. The county is working with the Salvation Army and community partners to set up a donation distribution center in Puna but had not settled on a location. Instead, monetary donations can be made via hawaii.salvationarmy.org or by calling 808-988-2136.
>> Hawaiian Airlines has extended a waiver of reservation change fees for ticketholders traveling to and from Hilo and Kona through May 13. The change-fee waiver is being offered on reservations made May 4 or earlier for flights scheduled for May 3 to 13. New flights must be booked for no later than May 20.
>> The Hilo Downtown Post Office remains closed due to structural concerns stemming from earthquakes. Customers with post office boxes there can pick up mail from the will-call window at the Hilo Main Post Office at 1299 Kekuanaoa St. between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturdays.
>> All recreational activities at Pahoa Pool have been canceled while the facility is being used as a hygiene station for evacuees from the eruption.