September 11, 2014,
As I remember our fallen on this day of American history, the more pressing subject is the lava creeping ever closer to the town I’ve based my life out of for the last ten years. Pahoa, Hawaii, was hit by Hurricane Iselle just last month and today the active volcano of Kileaua is threatening to cross the main highway in less than two weeks. Quite a double whammy to say the least.
Today, the Civil Defense message stated that the lava is flowing on the surface about 300 yards a day and is two tenths of a mile away from the borders of Kaohe Homesteads. Homeowners in that area will be contacted door to door. Also be advised that construction has started on Railroad Avenue for an alternate route out of Puna. Those in the Hawaiian Beaches and Hawaiian Shores subdivisions will be affected by noise throughout the weekend and into next week.
I’m stunned as the enormity of the situation settles. The last time lava overtook a neighborhood was in the early 80s. This time it could cut off numerous neighborhoods. Who knows what this road is going to look like? I wonder if it will have to be regulated. How will supplies be brought in? What if the lava goes all the way to the ocean? Do I enroll my daughter in the school in Keaau? Move my post office box into Kurtistown? My whole life has revolved around Pahoa and now I suddenly have to cut it off. The weird thing is though, that it’s not suddenly.
The flow that is threatening Pahoa started on June 27th, thus the name June 27th flow. Madame Pele has taken her time, branched out, come back, hid in cracks and now is launching a multi-fingered delta of destruction in slow motion. The jungles of Puna are fraught with cracks in the East Rift Zone so the only visuals we have are from daily overflights from the USGS, Civil Defense and anyone else with video and money to buy a helicopter flight. The red glow at night and red hued smoke plume in the day literally loom on the horizon.
It’s hard to think of how my life is going to change but I also have to accept a little bit of the dummy card. When my husband asked me to come here, I knew about the lava. I heard them tell stories of Royal Gardens, the Queen’s Bath and Kaimu Beach being taken. Most of my time here, I’ve had the ability to walk out and see the lava going into the ocean if the idea so struck me. We built a house in Lava Zone 2. We can only let her do what she is going to do and deal with the consequences. Sure, plan for worst case scenario, I should probably get a few boxes readied, but we can’t stop the lava. We are living on the edge of the East Rift Zone, home to Pele. She was here before any of us and she is proving that she will be listened to. Personally, I don’t think she likes the idea of a roundabout to take care of the traffic problem in her town, but that’s another post…