UPDATE 2:30 P.M.
Gov. David Ige signed a Presidential Disaster Declaration request today, asking President Donald Trump to declare the State of Hawaii a “major disaster” in the wake of recent volcano activity on Hawaii island.
Since May 3, the State of Hawaii and Hawaii County have spent more than $400,000 in emergency funds to protect life and property from lava flows and earthquakes that have occurred in the Kilauea East Rift Zone.
In the request, Ige asks for the authorization of the Public Assistance Grant Program for Hawaii County and the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program statewide. The estimated cost to protect island residents over the next 30 days is expected to be more than $2.9 million dollars, which doesn’t include permanent repairs or damages incurred from earthquakes.
According to the governor’s office, costs will “skyrocket” should air and/or sea evacuations become necessary.
“As more fissures open and toxic gas exposure increases, the potential of a larger scale evacuation increases,” said Gov. Ige in a statement. “A mass evacuation of the lower Puna District would be beyond current county and state capabilities, and would quickly overwhelm our collective resources.”
Puna Geothermal Venture completed its move of more than 60,000 gallons of the chemical pentane away from the Lower East Rift Zone of Kilauea volcano early this morning, easing fears that the pentane might be ignited by a lava flow.
The movement of the pentane was completed at 3:15 a.m., well ahead of a midnight deadline set by Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, according to county spokeswoman Janet Snyder.
>> Star-Advertiser Kilauea volcano coverage: https://808ne.ws/2FIMk5c
>> Aerial view of Kilauea’s East Rift Zone, May 9: https://808ne.ws/2IsJZ3K
>> Hawaii-born MLB player Kolten Wong joins list of GoFundMe fundraisers: https://808ne.ws/2JXUg5h
>> Science explains Kilauea https://808ne.ws/2wmIuzj
>> Lava flow at Leilani Estates in Pahoa: https://808ne.ws/2rq0292
>> Photos from Leilani Estates as lava advances: https://808ne.ws/2whJ2GZ
>> Residents in Nanawale Estates keep an eye on Pele: https://808ne.ws/2JTo8jm
>> Hawaii National Guard Maj. Jeff Hickman interview
>> Hawaii National Guard Sgt. Milo Kalama talks about air quality
>> Aerial footage of fissure No. 13
>> Leilani Estates resident talks about not evacuating
>> AP: Lava flow oozes onto Hawaii pavement
>> Hawaii island residents monitor Kilauea flow
>> Aerial footage of lava flowing into Leilani Estates on May 6
>> Leilani Estates home goes up in flames after lava strikes
>> East Hawaii residents brace as 6.9 quake hits
>> Crack opens in road, lava flows in Leilani Estates
>> Puu Oo vent empties
The 15 vents that opened along the East Rift Zone over the past week are issuing fumes but no lava this morning, but U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist Jim Kauahikaua said scientists have detected increased seismic activity about 1 1/2 miles northeast of Pohoiki Road.
That suggests the intrusion of magma that caused the eruption and stalled for a time under the Leilani Estates subdivision is once again on the move, scientists said.
“The seismicity is showing that the dike or intrusion is moving to the east,” Kauahikaua said. “So, clearly it’s moved, but we need to keep watching it.”
That sort of seismic activity may be an indicator of magma traveling through an underground system, and could be a precursor of a new vents opening further to the east.
The eruption in and around Leilani has now covered more than 116 acres with lava, and destroyed 36 buildings, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense officials. The county reported 217 people were staying at a shelter at the Pahoa Community Center, and county parks officials reported an influx of another 30 to 40 people at the shelter this morning.
Another 25 were staying at a shelter in Keaau, and many hundreds more are staying with friends or family.
The removal of pentane from the eruption areas addresses some of the concerns of residents in the surrounding communities, but Gov. David Ige has also instructed state and county officials to lead a team to develop and implement mitigation steps as necessary to protect public health and safety including a review of the PGV Emergency Response Plan.
The PGV plant is shut down, but Snyder said the team is considering the potential hazards from hydrogen sulfide and other gasses if one of the deep PGV wells is ruptured by an earthquake, lava flow or other volcanic activity.
The Ige administration announced Wednesday that “contingency plans will be made to secure and evacuate area residents should lava intrusions cause elevated levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) or sulfur dioxide (SO2) to be released.”
“Basically the next mission at PGV is to address the wells,” Snyder said. “They’re looking to get added expertise to deal with any uncontrolled releases.”
She was unable to be more specific, saying that “we’re not refusing any help, we’re reaching out. We’re bringing in everybody who knows what they’re doing.”
State Department of Health also reported a “small uptick” in visits to Kau Hospital, probably because of ash blown out of the summit of Kilauea, Snyder said.
Early this morning, Hawaii County Civil Defense said the lava outbreak from the latest fissure, No. 15, in the Lanipuna Subdivision remains paused although hazardous fumes continue to be released.
In other volcano-related news this morning:
>> The Department of Water Supply has issued an emergency water restriction for the Pohoiki, Vacationland and Kapoho areas due to the impacts to the bypass waterline caused by the latest fissure event. Water spigots installed near the entrance of Lava Tree State Park and a water tanker in Vacationland are still available for the public to access.
>> No access is allowed at this time for residents of Lanipuna Gardens due to dangerous volcanic gases.
>> Highway 130 remains closed between Malama Street and Kamaili Road, and Pohoiki Road is closed from Highway 132 to 137 due to cracks in the road.
>> 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.
>> Conditions permitting, Leilani Estates residents will still be allowed to check on their property from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day until further notice. Road Status Update:
>> The Kalapana Transfer Station is closed until further notice. The Pahoa Transfer Station on Apaa Street is open 7 days a week, from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.