HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - "I do have lots of friends there," says Mark Kimura, an affiliate faculty member in the Geography department at the University of Hawaii at Hilo, "I'm worried about them and what their life will be like."
Kimura created a
to show the effects of the Puna lava flow in addition to property damage.
One graphic shows the volume of the flow, comparing it to the Wailuku River.
Another, shows how the flow could virtually cut off the Puna District from the rest of the island.
According to Kimura, if Highway 130 is swallowed by lava, the county would have to re-open Chain of Craters Road, which would significantly increase commute times.
For people living in Pahoa, the 30-45 minute commute to Hilo would be increased by another hour and ten minutes.
And that means groceries, supplies and services would also be delayed.
"There's a lot of concern about that highway," says Kevin Dayton, Executive Director for Hawaii County, "It is a major thoroughfare."
Dayton says about 10,000 cars use Highway 130 everyday.
"This event, this lava flow is going to change the lifestyle of Puna considerably," says Dayton
"For our lifeline for Puna, this is extremely close," says Ikaika Marzo, who lives in Pahoa.
The county has had several meetings with residents and merchants to prepare for the event.
Originally the U.S. Geological Survey estimated the flow would reach the Highway on September 24, but the lava has slowed. There is no expected arrival date now, but if it continues on the current path, it will get there.
"It is going to be a challenge for the whole community," says Dayton.