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Hawaii’s Kilauea Volcano Has Village Residents Preparing To Evacuate As Lava Encroaches

Hawaiian Volcano

On the Big Island in Hawaii, lava flowing from Kilauea, a currently active shield volcano in the Hawaiian islands, turned towards the Big Island village on June 27, 2014. Since then, village residents and business owners have feared that the lava may reach their village. It appears as if that day is quickly approaching, as the lava had already reached a cemetery by Sunday Afternoon.

Kilauea, which has been erupting for almost for 31 years, is the most active of the five volcanoes that together form the island of Hawaii. It is also the youngest volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii, according to the USGS. While the volcano has been erupting for decades, it was until June that a new vent opened, a vent which threatens Pahoa.

Residents in the path of Kilauea’s lava have been told to prepare for evacuation, as the lava could cross the main street, Pahoa Village Road, within the next few days; assuming it continues at it its current speed of 10 yards per hour.

Darryl Oliveira, Hawaii County Civil Defense Director, issued a preliminary evacuation notice on Saturday for those residents nearest the front of the now 35 feet wide flow. He indicated that people should be ready to evacuate by Tuesday if the conditions warrant such an evacuation. He was quoted by the LA Times having said:

The current timelines are based on the current flow rates, and that could change. That could speed things up, as well as it could slow things down. The key is that we will be watching the flow 24/7.

Power poles in the path of the lava have been wrapped in thick insulating foil and fenced in with an 18 foot high ring of cattle fencing which was then filled with crushed rock and cinders in an attempt to maintain power to the 9,000 people living in the lower Puna district. While lava flows at a temperature of 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to burn or melt everything in its path, scientists from the University of Hawaii Department of Geology and Hawaii Volcanoes Observatory, working with the Hawaii Electric Light Co., have devised this experimental strategy. While the strategy appears to be working at the moment, the longevity of the strategy has yet to be determined, as the power company’s spokeswoman, Rhea Lee, was quoted by Star Advertiser having said:

We are encouraged by the initial result of the pole protection design, but the long-term results are still not determined. As the lava flow progresses, we expect the lava will rise and inflate. This is the second test of our experimental design.

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