PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - Governor Neil Abercrombie has signed an emergency proclamation that will allow officials on Hawaii Island to begin identifying and immediately opening abandoned roads as alternate routes in case the Puna lava flow crosses Highway 130.
The proclamation suspends certain laws as needed for emergency purposes, including state restrictions on reestablishing abandoned roads that may be used should lava cross Highway 130. It also activates the Major Disaster Fund set aside by the state Legislature for disaster relief and facilitates access to emergency resources at the state and federal levels.
"State agencies are working with the County of Hawaii to provide alternative access to lower Puna if lava crosses the main highway," said Gov. Abercrombie. "This proclamation will ensure that isolated communities receive a continuation of services.
"Health officials are also advising all residents living near the lava flow to plan ahead for potential smoke from burning vegetation and low levels of sulfur dioxide. Conditions for nearby communities may vary widely due to the unpredictability of wind and weather."
The disaster emergency relief period specified in the proclamation begins today and continues through Oct. 15, 2014.
The declaration comes one day after Hawaii Island Mayor Billy Kenoi issued his own emergency proclamation.
The following Civil Defense message was released Friday:
"Daily helicopter over flights and assessments are continuing. This morning's assessment shows the surface lava flow continues and is moving very slowly in a east/ northeast direction with very little vegetation burning. The surface flow has advanced approximately 150 yards since yesterday.
Subsurface flow activity remains evident with the presence of steam plumes being emitted from the crack system. The surface flow is moving very slowly and does not pose an immediate threat to area residents. The surface flow is located approximately .8 miles southwest or upslope of the Wao Kele Puna Forest Reserve boundary and moving in an east/northeast direction.
Due to the proximity of the lava flow activity to the nearby residential areas, the Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory has elevated the eruption alert level to an Eruption Warning yesterday, Thursday September 4.
Presently, the current activities and flow does not present with an immediate or imminent threat to area communities. No evacuation is required at this time.
Eruption activity will continue to be monitored and additional updates will be provided. Although the current flow activity does not pose an immediate threat to area communities, residents are encouraged to continue to review their emergency plans in the event conditions change and should an evacuation be necessary.
The public is reminded that the flow cannot be accessed and is not visible from any public areas. Access to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision will be restricted and limited to subdivision residents only.