Lava activity in Leilani subdivision has paused but could resume ‘at any time’
  • Thursday, April 25, 2019
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Lava activity in Leilani subdivision has paused but could resume ‘at any time’

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Marcus Moylan, who lives on Hookupu Street, looks back one last time at the street area he and his 9 siblings used to play on today in Leilani Estates on Hawaii island.

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A member of the National Guard stands in front of the lava flow on Leilani Avenue in Pahoa.

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Lava burns pavement and utility poles at Leilani Estates in Pahoa, Hawaii.

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Lava burns pavement and utility poles at Leilani Estates in Pahoa.

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Lava burns pavement and utility poles at Leilani Estates in Pahoa.

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Lava burns pavement and utility poles at Leilani Estates in Pahoa.

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A fissure is seen on Kaupili Street today.

  • JAMM AQUINO / JAQUINO@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A fissure is seen on Kaupili Street today.

UPDATE: 10:45 a.m.

Kilauea volcano’s latest lava outbreak has covered 104 acres in the Leilani Estates subdivision in lower Puna, according to a morning update from Hawaii County Civil Defense.

The number of structures destroyed, 35, and fissures, 12, remains unchanged from Monday night.

Civil Defense officials said because of the pause in eruptive activity, Leilani Estates residents are being allowed to check on their property and retrieve belongings from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, until further notice and conditions permitting. Access for residents of nearby Lanipuna Gardens continues to be forbidden due to dangerous volcanic gases.

In other lava-related news:

>> Highway 130 remains closed between Malama Street and Kamaili Road, and Pohoiki Road is closed from Highway 132 to Hinalo Street.

>> Civil Defense has established the Recovery Information and Assistance Center in Pahoa at the Sacred Hearts Church in Pahoa, which will be opened Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

>> For information on volunteering, donating, lost or found pets, and important resources, go to www.punalavaflow2018.com; for information on sulfur dioxide and vog, go to http:/ivhhn.org/vog.

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10 a.m.

The eruption along Kilauea’s East Rift Zone within the Leilani Estates subdivision has paused as of 7 a.m., according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. However, “this pause is likely temporary and resumption of lava emission or additional fissure outbreaks are possible at any time,” the agency said.

The fissure system is now 2.5 miles long and continues to emit dangerous volcanic gas. The lava lake level continues to drop, though there is no active lava in the Puu Oo area.

Continued eruptive activity — fluctuating and intermittent — in the lower East Rift Zone is likely, the agency said.

6 a.m.

Volcanic activity has paused at all 12 fissures although they continue to emit hazardous fumes, according to the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory.

Residents of Leilani Estates will be allowed to check their property weekdays from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. until further notice, Hawaii County Civil Defense said in a news release. Entry placards for residents who wish to retrieve personal items from the subdivision will be available at the community information center at Sacred Hearts Church in Pahoa. The information center is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Access to Lanipuna Gardens remains prohibited due to dangerous volcanic gases.

Highway 130 is closed between Malama Street and Kamaili Road. Pohoiki Road is closed from Highway 132 to Hinalo Street.

Puna Geothermal Venture reports no activity at this time although the facility is secured.

5:30 a.m.

There were nearly 200 people at the Pahoa Community Center and 15 people at the Keaau Community Center shelters as of midnight. About 50 Red Cross volunteers have been assisting evacuees with emergency needs.

>> MONDAY, MAY 7

9:30 p.m.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reports volcanic activity has subsided at all 12 fissures, but hazardous fumes remain. A total of 12 fissures have emerged, and 35 structures have been destroyed.

Water repairs on Pohoiki Road in Pahoa have been completed, said the Department of Water Supply. The water line is currently being recharged. A water truck for public use remains near the Vacationland mailboxes.

6:30 p.m.

State officials are advising Leilani Estates residents to contact their insurance companies for coverage questions and that those affected by the lava inundation may be able to start a claim.

At a community meeting in Pahoa tonight, Gov. David Ige said state officials are investigating insurance issues related to losses caused by the lava outbreak.

He advised homeowners to “ask (their insurance company) if you have coverage for fire, don’t ask if you have coverage for lava … As long as you have coverage for fire, we believe you are covered.”

Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs’ Insurance Division said earlier today that consumers should inform their insurer of any damage or that they may be unable to access their home or business. The policy may require a notification to the insurer within a certain time frame. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and keep detailed notes of any conversations, they said today.

“If policyholders are unsure of what coverages they have, they should reach out to their insurance company as soon as possible,” said Insurance Commissioner Gordon Ito.

Pahoa and Puna residents who continue to have problems can also call the Insurance Division toll-free at (808) 974-4000, extension 62790.

In other eruption-related news this afternoon, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park officials said the new operating hours will be 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily until further notice. Kilauea Visitor Center has resumed normal operating hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Jaggar Museum has resumed normal operating hours from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Many areas of the park remain closed.

“It’s a dynamic and fluid situation in the park that can change at any minute,” said Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

Several East Hawaii charter schools remained closed. Kua o ka La New Century Public Charter School will be closed Tuesday and Wednesday, and school officials hope to open on Thursday. Officials said grades 4-12 will be located at the Boys and Girls Club in Hilo and that they are still in search of a new place for the K-3 students. Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science Public Charter School will be closed Tuesday. Ka ʻUmeke Kaʻeo will be open Tuesday except for the pre-K class.

3:30 p.m.

Two new fissures have emerged and are emitting lava and gas in the Leilani Estates subdivision in Puna, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said this afternoon.

The latest fissures formed south of Malama Street and bring the total number of fissures since this eruption began to 12, the observatory said.

Meanwhile, two people were arrested this morning after they refused to stop at police checkpoints leading into lava-pummeled Leilani Estates, Hawaii island police said.

Cynthia Verschuur, 49, of Pahoa, ignored two separate police roadblocks where uniformed officers told her to stop, police said. The checkpoints were at the intersections of Leilani Street and Pohoiki Road and at Highway 130 and Malama Street.

Verschuur was charged with two counts of obstructing governmental operations, two counts of obedience to police officers, and one count of loitering and refusing to evacuate. Her bail was set at $5,000.

David Ream, 29, of Pahoa, initially stopped at a checkpoint at Highway 130 and Kamili Road, then drove past, ignoring an officer’s command to stop, police said.

He was arrested at Highway 130 and Bryson’s Cinders Quarry Road while trying to slide his motorcycle under a gate, police said.

He was charged with obstructing governmental operations and loitering and refusing to evacuate. He also received numerous traffic citations. His bail was set at $4,250.

Police said Verschuur and Ream are not Leilani Estates residents. Police are letting Leilani Estates residents into the subdivision until 6 p.m. today.

2:00 p.m.

HILO >> Gov. David Ige is traveling to Hawaii County today to attend a community meeting in Pahoa, and stay overnight to meet with county officials who are managing the response to the volcanic eruption that has already destroyed 35 structures in Leilani Estates subdivision.

Ige also plans to visit an information center in Pahoa village along with the Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo, according to a spokeswoman.

Meanwhile, state and county officials are planning for an alternate route for Lower Puna residents just in case the ongoing Kilauea volcano eruption severs the busy Keaau-Pahoa Road.

The highway has been closed until further notice between Highway 132 and Old Kalpana Road because of cracking that could be related to the fissures that have opened in Leilani.

The cracking is at mile markers 14.4 and 14.6, and widened over the weekend, accordant to state transportation officials. The cracking is close to the northern end of the detour route that is currently providing access to the Kalpana and Kaimu areas.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE

HILO >> A Monday morning lull in the Leilani Estates lava flow allowed residents to return for a second day to grab pets, medicine and other essential items, but no one is assuming that the decrease in Kilauea volcano’s output will last.

As of midday, Hawaii County Civil Defense officials said the tally of destroyed structures in the lower Puna neighborhood remained at 35, with at least 26 of those being homes. A total of 10 fissures have opened in the subdivision, which along with nearby Lanipuna Gardens, remains under an evacuation order.

Hawaiian Volcano Observatory confirmed that the volcanic activity had subsided this morning, but hazardous fumes, including sulfur dioxide, continue to be a problem in Leilani Estates.

Nonetheless, residents had a chance again today to make a brief run back to their homes, as they did Sunday. Conditions permitting, they are allowed to return, between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. every day until further notice, but officials have warned them repeatedly that they must be prepared to leave on short notice.

In other developments this morning:

>> Puna Geothermal Venture has 60,000 gallons of flammable pentane gas they need to move but cannot until the necessary containers have been delivered. Once they receive the containers, moving the gas will take several days, a spokesman said. The company had previously moved the gas to higher ground.

>> The Hawaii County Department of Water Supply is working on a bypass to get water service restored to Vacationland and Kepoo, hopefully by the end of today, a department spokesman said.

>> The downtown Hilo post office reopened for business today. The post office had closed on May 4 when the Hilo federal building was closed due to structural concerns in the wake of the earthquakes that accompanied the volcanic eruption. The Post Office said evacuees of Puna and Pahoa can pick up their mail at the Pahoa post office at 15-2859 Pahoa Village Road while their neighborhoods are inaccessible. Residents in officially evacuated neighborhoods or nearby areas are also encouraged to fill out a Change of Address form to have mail redirected to them in a timely manner.

>> Several public charter schools were closed today in East Hawaii, but the state Department of Education said all its Big Island schools are operating.

>> Hawaii County police have closed Highway 130 between Highway 132 and Kalapana due to a crack on the road. The crack was described as about an eighth of a mile long and about three to four inches wide, prompting police to close the section of the road sometime before 6:40 a.m. today to allow experts to take a look at it, according to Maj. Sam Thomas of the Hawaii Police Department. There is no other activity at this time, Thomas said. In an abundance of caution, “we want to have experts look at it to make sure.”

>> The American Red Cross reported 250 people in the Pahoa Community Center shelter and 15 at the Keaau Community Center shelter overnight. Hawaii County police, meanwhile, said they have again closed Highway 130 between Highway 132 and Kalapana pending further evaluation. The road had been briefly reopened this morning.

>> Hawaii County police and prosecutors warned Sunday that they “have established a policy of zero tolerance toward looting or vandalism,” which will be treated as a felony. The communities of Leilani Estate and the smaller Lanipuna Gardens have about 1,800 residents and 700 homes under evacuation orders.

Also today,the increased seismic activity in the aftermath of Friday’s magnitude 6.9 quake continues to elevated, but not as intense as immediately after the state largest quake in 48 years. “Aftershocks from Friday’s magnitude-6.9,” said HVO scientists in a morning update.

Likewise, they stressed that the lull in lava activity in Leilani Estates is not likely permanent.

“Eruption of lava and gas continues at a low level along Kilauea volcano’s lower East Rift Zone within the Leilani Estates subdivision. Overnight, active emission of lava and spatter at multiple fissures was minimal. This is likely only a pause in activity; additional outbreaks or a resumption of activity are anticipated as seismicity continues in the area,” they said.


Star-Advertiser reporters Dan Nakaso and Kevin Dayton contributed to this report.


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