HELCO prepares to move critical infrastructure for Puna lava flow

HELCO prepares to move critical infrastructure for Puna lava flow

More watching and waiting in Puna -- where the lava flow's front edge hasn't budged for several days. However, on-going activity at the flow's source leads experts to believe it will pick back up and continue downslope at some point -- which is why officials are using this time to establish critical infrastructure.

In the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle, thousands were without power for days. Officials are saying that's exactly the kind of situation they want to avoid if the Puna lava flow crosses Highway 130.

Hawai‘i Electric Light Company crews have been digging holes to install power poles and putting in new lines along Government Beach Road so they can re-route electricity distribution from north to south.

"We have transmission lines that are up closer to 130 and if those transmission lines are taken out by the lava, what this line will do is it will provide power from Maku'u Drive all the way to Hawaiian Beaches and then from Hawaiian Beaches we can look at serving the other lower Puna communities," said Rhea Lee, HELCO's spokesperson.

Officials aren't just working on uninterrupted communication services, they're also trying to ensure consistent roadway access.

Government Beach Road is just one lane, which is why Hawai'i County Civil Defense officials are asking drivers to avoid using it if they can so that HELCO crews can work as safely and quickly as possible.

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