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Volcanoes park museum artifacts, archives moved to safety

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    Above, as viewed Monday, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and Jaggar Museum sit on the rim of Halemaumau crater’s caldera. Subsidence at the summit has led to the loss of about 260 million cubic meters of material as of last week.

HILO >> National Park Service staff moved its collection of artifacts and exhibit features from Jaggar Museum at Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on Tuesday due to all of the dramatic changes taking place at the summit of Kilauea.

Although the building is damaged, the artifacts are now in a safe place, NPS officials said.

“The process of removing art, artifacts and informative displays from Jaggar Museum (Tuesday) really drives home how much has changed in the park and at the summit of Kilauea since late April, and how much damage the recent activity has done,” said Jessica Ferracane of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park in an email. “We are thankful there was little seismic activity at the summit (Tuesday), and we were able to safely remove and store the items.”

The museum and archive collection at the park consists of more than 31,000 objects under the classifications of archeology, ethnology, history, biology, paleontology and geology, plus 1,350 linear feet of records, including documents and audio-visual material. Besides park publications, there are postcards, books, fine art paintings and the registers for the Volcano House, a hotel located on the park grounds.

One of the artifacts moved to safety Tuesday is a suit worn by U.S. Geological Survey geologist George Ulrich, who survived a fall into pahoehoe lava in 1985.

In related developments:

>> Federal Emergency Management Agency officials reported Wednesday that more than 1,000 individuals seeking relief from the Kilauea eruptions have registered so far at the Disaster Recovery Center at Keaau High School. The center remains open daily from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Most have questions about where they are going to live, according to Hawaii County spokeswoman Janet Snyder, and a task force is working on housing options and speaking with church groups and landowners.

>> A steam explosion at the Kilauea summit at 4:22 a.m. Wednesday resulted in a 5.3-magnitude earthquake and ashfall for the Kau area, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported.

Winds will continue to push volcanic emissions into the interior of the Big Island, including over Hilo, the northern parts of the island and then wrap around to the west, according to the National Weather Service. Sulfur dioxide and Pele’s hair may blow over Pahoa and as far north as the Hawaiian Acres area. Tradewinds are expected to return today, pushing vog southwest toward Kau and Kona.

>> As of 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory reported that fissure 8 continues to erupt with a full channel flowing to the ocean at the Kapoho coastline with one main entry area. Fissures 6, 15 and 16 continue producing minor spattering. Inward slumping of the rim and walls of Halemaumau continues.

>> Hawaii County Civil Defense also reminded the public that Leilani Estates, west of Pomaikai Street, is only open to residents with official credentials. Leilani Estates residents who live east of Pomaikai Street can contact Civil Defense to schedule an escort to retrieve important documents and vital belongings. These escorts only happen when conditions are safe. Government Beach Road, meanwhile, is open to Papaya Farms Road.

>> Doctors are expected to determine today whether Mayor Harry Kim can check out of the hospital, where he is recovering from a heart attack, Snyder said. Kim has called for a meeting with department heads to discuss cuts to the budget after the Hawaii County Council voted down a proposal to increase the general excise tax on Tuesday.

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