This is an interesting time to live in Puna - the Southeastern most district on the Big Island of Hawaii. As I described last time, Pele, the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire, has recently starting pushing lava a new direction. After 31 years of her Southern march, she is now heading East towards our wonderful town of Pahoa. That has created a tremendous amount of fear and uncertainty within our community.
The local officials as well as the Geologists have done a good job of trying to keep everyone informed. There are daily civil defense messages and weekly Lava Flow Update Meetings. The problem is there are many questions but few definitive answers. The lava is very unpredictable so no one can really know where it will go and when it will get there. But that hasn't stopped many folks from speculating. The internet and social media is full of opinions as to what it will do. Many claim it will ultimately be the demise of all of lower Puna and others say it will be short lived and may actually already be winding down. So one would think the official meetings are the place to go to sort through fact and fiction. But there aren't really answers to our 'when and where' questions. So we all just continue to speculate as we sit and wait to see what happens.
But not everyone is just sitting around and waiting. The County is preparing new roads in anticipation of our primary highway being covered in lava at some point. This action has caused many folks to realize this is real and to really think about life here without that main highway. We already have traffic woes so the thought of 10,000 or so estimated cars traveling down a 20 MPH dirt road for 10 miles to get in and out of Lower Puna is just too much for many people to handle. Consequently, one of the first impacts we have seen is many, many folks moving out of lower Puna and to just about anywhere else. We have a large community of renters and many of them have proven very willing to pick up and move without much notice. A surprising number of homeowners are bailing out too! The result has certainly been felt in the rental market. There is now a severe shortage of rentals from Upper Puna into Hilo and even up as far as Kamuela . Conversely, there is suddenly an abundance of cheap rentals available in Pahoa! The real estate resale market doesn't react quite as quickly as the rental market but the lines are beginning to be drawn there as well.
Lot's more going on but that's enough for now. It's a crazy time to be living here although In time I'm sure things will settle down. But for now just call me 'Lost in Lavaland!
Until next time...
If you like the 'Lost in Lavaland' hat or hot pad I just made let me know. I can make you one too!