1- People are losing their homes. Everything else pales in comparison but still, let's move on down the list to some other impacts that might surprise our off-island friends.
2- Roads and routes are changing almost daily now. Detour signs are becoming a permanent part of the landscape as people learn new ways to get from Point A to Point B.
3- Our local schools are in turmoil. Several have simply ceased operations and those students are being reassigned to other campuses. Nearly all other Lower Puna schools are closed for 10 days while they reassign students and faculty to schools based on which side of the flow they live on. The paper reported that over 1000 students were being reassigned to new schools.
4- Air Quality has been and will continue to be an issue as more and more things catch on fire. Yesterday it was a large pile of burning tires that created a thick black smoke throughout much of the immediate area. The daily Civil Defense messages usually contain a warning of the danger to folks with lung or breathing issue.
5. The National Guard is going to be a -permanent fixture for awhile. A substantial number of troops have been called in to deal with the 'tension and attention' caused by this lava flow.
6- Helicopters are constantly buzzing overhead looking at the lava. Thankfully it is mostly officials at this point and not the tourist flights. But that's probably going to change at some point too.
7- Polling Places are being changed for many. One polling place was located in the school that has already been shut down. So all those folks are being reassigned to new polling places just before next weeks election.
8- The Pahoa Post Office is said to be shutting down soon as the lava approaches. No announcements have been made (that I have heard) but many are wondering where they will pick up their mail. With the County already announcing that many services into the affected area will be compromised, you have to wonder if those that get home mail delivery will soon be asking the same question.
9- The national media and lots of just general gawkers are suddenly all over Pahoa. Everyone wants to try to see and photograph the lava - preferably as it burns down someones house. Civil Defense and the police have done a good job of preventing this so far, but that hasn't stopped folks from trampling through the forest or otherwise disrespecting the privacy of those affected the most.
11- Finally, you can probably imagine the impact this has already had to real estate here. In lower Puna we have thousands of willing sellers but buyers for this area are now few and far between. Those that might still be lured by the 'fire-sale' prices are having challenges obtaining any loans or property insurance. And having so few buyers in this marketplace also means many folks that might have wanted to leave the area for health or security reasons simply can't now unless they are willing to abandon their homes. Some are doing that, despite the concerns over looting - already reported to be happening via social media, but denied by the police.
Not even a complete list, this at least gives an indication of the kinds of impacts that many in this area are experiencing. And I'm sorry to say I think this is really just beginning. I'm afraid there will be more to come.
Thanks for reading. Please stay safe and Pray for Puna!
Big Island Stitch