PUNA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - After stalling for a week, the Puna lava flow advanced about 25 yards -- according to Hawai'i County Civil Defense officials who flew over the area Sunday morning. They say a breakout further upslope and north of the leading edge of the lava flow also moved forward by about 30 yards.
Hawai'i County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira says no homes or businesses are in any imminent danger and no evacuation is needed at this time. He says residents will be given adequate notice to safely evacuate should that be necessary.
On Saturday, USGS geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory say fresh lava broke out of the tube about 3.4 miles behind the flow, which suggests that lava is slowly beginning to reoccupy the tube. During their flyover Friday, they observed vigorous surface activity about 3 miles upslope of the flow front where the lava enters the crack system and a few new sluggish breakouts they believe is associated with draining of lava from the inflated flow's hot interior.
USGS says the June 27th flow front is stalled 1.4 miles upslope from Apa'a St. and 2.1 miles from Pahoa Village Road. Experts may be able
to offer an estimation of its future movement after their next overflight assessment on Monday, September 29. However, USGS geologists say it's still likely the lava flow will head downslope into Pahoa as they first projected.
It was initially anticipated to reach Apa'a Street last week. Residents along the street, also known as Rubbish Dump Road, say they're doing what they can to prepare while they watch and wait. Some are choosing to leave, others plan to stay -- but most have started packing.
Robert Shioshita has lived on Apa'a Street since 1979. He's now looking for a place in Hilo.
"She stopped now so it's not too bad but when she start moving again - it's going to be more stressful," Shioshita said. "There's more here then wherever we're supposed to take it to."
That's not the case for Theresa and Alberto Zendejas.
"I'd say we have maybe about a truck and a half of stuff left to take away," Theresa said, explaining that she and her husband have been packing for the last two weeks. "According to the scientists it's not if, it's when," she said.
The couple says they're prepared to lose their home, should the lava head their way.
"They told us that we can actually watch it happen so that we can have closure but to be honest with you, I do not want to see my house go up in flames. I can't, I can't do that. I want to visualize my house the way it is right now," Theresa said.
Businesses are facing the same choice -- stay or go.
Puna Styles, a clothing store, has already closed it's doors. Sukothai restaurant is doing the same.
"Today is my last day - and I try to clean up and get out of here. I feel sad. I like to cook and I really love all my customers. They are all nice and helping and supporting," said Sukothai's owner Sompoin Tungngeon, who says she's afraid of the lava and isn't taking any chances.
Stephen Yundt says he'll keep Pele's Kitchen open until officials tell him to leave.
"When you live in Puna, you have to let Pele do her magic and you step out of the way let the lava go by and then you reform you life afterwards according to what makes sense. True Punatics that live here, we respect Pele we understand that lava is part of our life and we find a way to exist afterwards," Yundt said.
The old fire station could become one again soon. Most recently, it has been home to the Pahoa senior center, but they packed up and relocated so that the facility can be used for emergency services if needed.
Officials say smoke conditions Sunday are light to moderate with a light rain throughout the area. There is no fire threat at this time.
HELCO crews will be working in the Government Beach road area and digging holes to allow for the installation of power poles. Officials say the road will be blocked and the public is advised to avoid the area and use alternate routes to allow for these operations.
The public is reminded that the flow is not visible and cannot be accessed from any public areas. Access to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision is still restricted to residents only.
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