It has come to our attention that many of our off-island followers are not even aware that Pele - the Hawaiian Goddess of Fire - is creating quite a stir in our rural East Hawaii Island community. So I thought I'd use this forum to let you know a bit about what is going on here. I'll give a brief description but the intent here is not to provide you with the latest information on the lava flow. There are better sources for that. Instead, these ongoing musings will (hopefully) provide some insight into our experiences living in the middle of a slow-moving natural disaster.
Today I'll catch you up on the facts. Our community of East Hawaii Island, also known as the Puna District, sits on the flanks of an active volcano known as Kilauea. This volcano has been erupting continuously for over 30 years now. The lava has always traveled down the South side of the volcano. It started as a thin flow to the ocean but over the course of the last 30 years has managed to cover virtually the entire South side of the mountain with lava. Luckily that was always a rural part of the island but even so several entire subdivisions and communities were covered.
Beginning on June 27th of this year, the lava flow changed to an Eastward flow. This was not a fluke. The southern exit of the Pu'u O'o' Crater was covered and blocked and instead a new east-facing vent has opened wide up. The result is that lava is now on it's painfully slow journey down the mountain and smack towards our wonderful town of Pahoa and our many Puna neighborhoods. The initial flow path is getting clearer and the flow is now expected to cross through the center of Pahoa town within another week or two. Within days after that it will cover the only road in and out of the lower Puna community. There is on-going work to create two new gravel roads in and out of lower Puna, but that is only a temporary solution. More than likely, those new roads will eventually also be covered as they lie between the flow and the ocean. The plan for after those roads are covered is less clear.
What is clear is that many people of Puna are in dire straits right now. Hopper and I are fortunate to be in perhaps the safest of the Puna subdivisions. At least it seems safe for now. Which is why I am able to sit and write a blog while many other of my fellow 'Punatics' are packing up and relocating to 'anywhere but here'.
That's enough fun facts for now. If you want to keep up with the flow you might want to bookmark the USGS site http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/maps/. You can watch the painfully slow trek of the lava from the mountain to the sea.
In the meantime, we'll be here just 'rolling with the flow' and staying 'Puna Strong'!
NEXT TIME: "Choosing sides"
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