Hawaii’s Big Island is dealing with serious concerns as lava from an active volcano is reported to be flowing toward nearby homes. As residents of the island deal with the aftermath of a tropical storm that has already done damage, they must now turn their attention to lava flowing towards residential neighborhoods. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory has been monitoring the lava closely and has changed the alert level for the island from a “watch level” to a “warning level” as of Thursday.
The lava flow is coming from an active volcano known as Kilauea, which has been consistently erupting since 1983. In June, scientists from the Hawaiian observatory were able to see new vents on the northeast flank of the volcano. Since then they have been monitoring the situation and have watched as lava has continued to flow under the ground. The lava is filling in cracks and appearing above ground at different intervals along the way.
The scientists from the observatory estimate that the lava had been flowing a distance of around 820 feet per day. On Friday, officials from the Hawaii County Civil Defense flew over the area and confirmed that the lava is continuing to progress towards the residential area; the lava has reportedly advanced about 150 yards since Thursday. This is especially concerning for residents living near the volcano.
The Kaohe Homesteads are a subdivision in the path of the lava. While the subdivision is not heavily populated, residents are taking the necessary steps to prepare for a potential evacuation. While the people have not been ordered to evacuate as of yet, many have taken the time to move any livestock from the area.
As the Hawaiian residents wait for more news in regards to the flow of the lava, the concerns include the potential for an eruption from the volcano. Based on the current rate of flow, the lava could reach homes within the next week. The area has been restricted to the residents of the Kaohe Homesteads at this time. Emergency officials are also encouraging the residents of the area to review any emergency plans they have in place in order to be ready for any changes if an evacuation is deemed to be necessary.
Once it is established that lava will reach homes within a five day window, the Civil Defense agency has said that they will issue an order of evacuation. The Mayor has already declared a state of emergency for the area which will lead to restricted roadway access to and from the location concerned. This will in turn allow residents a more safe and secure departure from the area if and when an evacuation is deemed necessary.
Scientists and other officials in Hawaii have been doing regular fly overs of the area in an effort to stay on top of the progress of the lava flow. Everyone in the area is asked to stay alert and ready as the flow can be unpredictable. It is entirely possible that the lava flow might change directions and the Homestead may be spared or another area may be endangered. Officials will continue to monitor the area and issue any necessary alerts or evacuations.
By Kimberley Spinney