State of emergency declared on Big Island due to Kilauea lava

Taken Sept. 4, 2014. (Photo: Hawaii County Civil Defense)

Lava from Kilauea continues to inch its way closer to homes in Puna.

Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi signed Thursday an emergency proclamation for the advancing lava flow in the Wao Kele O Puna area after the flow extended to less than a mile from the edge of the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision.

“We are taking this step to ensure our residents have time to prepare their families, their pets, and their livestock for a safe and orderly evacuation from Kaohe in the event the flow continues to advance,” he said.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said the proclamation allows county authorities to restrict access to Kaohe Homestead roadways so that residents can move safely if an evacuation becomes necessary.

As of 7:49 a.m. Friday, the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory downgraded the threat level from an earlier warning back to a watch.

Oliveira stressed that no evacuation has been ordered at this time and urged residents to finalize their evacuation plans and monitor county Civil Defense updates closely in the days ahead.

A resident KHON2 spoke to in Nanawale Estates says she’s already putting together a plan.

“I’m looking at locating all of my paperwork that might be essential or any things that are sentimentally valuable that I couldn’t replace — to be able to put those things together concisely and to prepare for evacuation of my pets,” said Nanawale Estates resident Jenny Gardner.

Crews conducted a flyover early Thursday morning and officials say the flow has shifted east-northeast, almost parallel to the boundary between the forest preserve and the subdivision.

“Activity on the surface remained fairly constant since yesterday,” Oliveira said. “It’s a very slow-moving surface flow, and it progressed, maybe, I would say a rough estimate, just under 100 yards since yesterday to give you an idea of how slow it is moving.”

Civil Defense employees says they’re still reaching out to residents by going door-to-door, making sure everyone is kept up-to-date.

“Even though our staff was able to make contact with many of the residents yesterday, we wanted to go back and make sure we didn’t miss anyone because we did leave flyers or notices on those residents that no one was at the property,” Oliveira said.

As for those who’d like to get a glimpse of the lava, Civil Defense is urging the public to stay out of the area.

“There’s really no real activity at the flow front. It’s a very small, slow creeping type of a lava flow. So it’s not something worth risking your life for and it’s not worth hindering the activity of the residents who are just trying to keep their lives in order,” Oliveira said.

Hawaii County Civil Defense and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory are holding a series of public meetings. The next update will be at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 4, at the Pahoa High School Cafeteria.

Officials will also continue to monitor the lava and conduct another flyover on Friday.

Get daily updates on Kilauea’s lava flow here.

Photo: Hawaii County Civil Defense
Photo: Hawaii County Civil Defense
Photo: Hawaii County Civil Defense
Photo: Hawaii County Civil Defense

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