Emergency shelter opened for residents impacted by lava flow

Red Cross emergency shelter opens for Puna lava flow, residents advised to prepare for evacuation
Published: Oct. 27, 2014 at 4:39 AM HST|Updated: Oct. 29, 2014 at 3:52 AM HST
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Pahoa Village Rd. closed between Apa'a St. & Post Office Rd.
Pahoa Village Rd. closed between Apa'a St. & Post Office Rd.

PAHOA, BIG ISLAND (HawaiiNewsNow) - ?

Evacuations have not been ordered, but Red Cross Hawai'i opened an emergency shelter Sunday night at the Sure Foundation Puna in preparation for residents who may be displaced by the Puna lava flow.

Hawai'i County Civil Defense officials issued an advisory late Sunday night indicating the flow's advancement rate and speed had increased to approximately 15 - 20 yd/hr and the leading edge was about 600 yards from Pahoa Village Road. Civil Defense personnel and community emergency response teams were going door-to-door in the immediate down slope area to inform residents that based on the current flow location, direction, and advancement rate -- they needed to prepare for possible evacuation overnight.

Officials said as the flow approaches the community, smoke conditions may increase in some areas and residents down wind that may be sensitive or have respiratory problems are advised to take necessary precautions and remain indoors.

Pahoa Village Road has been shut down from Apa'a Street to Post Office Road and will be limited to area residents only.

Civil Defense and public safety personnel are operating in the area round the clock to maintain close observations of flow activity.

Officials are asking all residents down slope to monitor their radio, as updates will be broadcast when conditions change.

The projected impact zone is still along Pahoa Village Road between Apa'a Street and Post Office Road. Officials have identified 50 - 60 structures in the area -- both homes and businesses. They say they have spoken directly to everyone who may be affected and 95% of the residents they spoke to reported having a place to go. They say only a handful indicated they may need to relocate to a shelter.

The emergency shelter is located at 16-1592 Pohaku Circle, just off of Highway 130 in Kea'au. Officials say they have cots and bathrooms available for whomever needs a place to stay, but they're encouraging folks to bring their own bedding and toiletries if possible. The location is pet-friendly, but animals need to be in kennels.

USGS geologists with the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory were asked to monitor conditions in the field Sunday night. This after spending all day assessing conditions at the leading edge of the flow, where methane explosions are still very prevalent anunpredictablele. According to their measurements, the average width of the flow is 45 yards -- but USGS says as it has traveled down slope, it split into two lobes. The faster, northern lobe crossed completely through the Pahoa cemetery by mid-morning, while the slower southern lobe was advancing through open pasture south of the cemetery. A third lobe farther upslope, just above Apa?a Street, advanced about 55 yards since Saturday. They say the slightly slower-moving southern lobe in the pasture south of the cemetery reached slightly steeper terrain at mid-afternoon Sunday. HVO scientists say it will likely rejoin with the finger that came through the cemetery near the northeast end of the pasture. According to USGS, the pasture is located between two of the steepest decent paths plotted on HVO's lava flow maps, and the flow is trending toward the southerly of these two paths. They say this path joins the northerly steepest-descent path about mid-way between the cemetery and Pahoa Village Road, so the inferred flow path leading to Pahoa Village Road is unchanged.

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