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Hawaii News

Evacuation order came suddenly for Kapoho residents

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Tia Klug-Wessell, left, and Kate Howard watched on Saturday an aerial video of lava consuming the Kapoho Farm Lots area they had evacuated days ago. Howard lost her house of 40 years while Klug-Wessell awaits the fate of her home.

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Tia Klug-Wessell brought a plate of food for fellow Kapoho Farm Lots evacuee Kate Howard in Hawaiian Beaches on Saturday.

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U.S. Geological Survey scientists captured the image above of the fissure 8 flow front Saturday morning as it advanced west along Highway 132.


Kapoho resident Tia Klug-Wessell thought she had at least another month before she’d have to evacuate her home near Green Lake, but then police abruptly arrived in her neighborhood last week in the early morning hours to alert residents it was time to go.

“A few nights ago, the police came by with bullhorns at 1 in the morning and said, ‘Get out, get out— four hours or six hours before the lava comes,’” said Klug-Wessell, 36, who has lived in Kapoho for the past five years. “It was pretty intense. I wasn’t planning to evacuate so quickly.”

Less than a dozen people still remained in their homes in Kapoho and Vacationland as of Saturday afternoon, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense.

One of them is Klug-Wessell’s neighbor, who doesn’t plan to leave his home, causing Klug-Wessell to worry now that steam is reportedly emanating from the Green Lake area as lava enters lake waters.

Before she evacuated, Klug-Wessell, an acupuncturist who worked from home, said she lost electricity, municipal water service and cellular phone service due to eruption activity. “It just became more progressively difficult,” she said.

She is now staying at a friend’s property at the Hawaiian Beaches subdivision and hopes her neighborhood will not be overrun by lava. “Hopefully we can all go back to our homes if they’re still there.”

In the meantime, Klug-Wessell has been helping fellow displaced residents at a makeshift center dubbed Pu‘uhonua o Puna, located at the intersection of Highways 132 and 130. There, volunteers provide hot meals, massages, clothing, bedding, nonperishable foods and other support.

Flows continue

Since lava began flowing from a series of fissures in the lower East Rift Zone of Kilauea May 3, 87 homes have been destroyed.

Talmadge Magno, administrator of Hawaii County Civil Defense, said vigorous eruptions are continuing in Leilani Estates and Lanipuna Gardens. Lava from fissure 8 is feeding a large flow heading downslope along Highway 132, the Pahoa-Kapoho Road, toward the ocean into Kapoho Beach Lots.

As of 6 p.m. Saturday, lava had crossed Government Beach Road and Highway 137 and inundated the intersection of Highways 132 and 137, known as Four Corners, cutting off access to Kapoho and Vacationland.

Government Beach Road between Kahakai Boulevard and Cinder Road is open only for Waa Waa Road and Papaya Farms Road residents with official credentials to retrieve their belongings.

“We remind them the flows above that area, even though they have stopped movement, possibly could get reactivated or other flows could start in that area,” Magno said.

The U.S. Geological Survey reported an explosion occurred at the Kilauea Volcano’s summit Friday afternoon, resulting in a plume that reached a height of 10,000 feet. Scientists also said volcanic gas emissions remain high at the summit and in the fissure system.

USGS geophysicist Jim Kauahikaua noted lava had covered 4,213 acres of land as of Saturday.

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