Officials warn remaining Pahoa residents of approaching lava flow

Lava from Kilauea volcano crossed Apa’a Street in Pahoa early Saturday morning.

The flow is moving northeast at about 10 yards per hour towards the Pahoa Cemetery. It’s more than half-a-mile away from Pahoa Village Road and one mile away from Highway 130.

A utility pole in the lava’s path managed to survive. Hawaii Electric Light says crews installed heat resistant material to protect several poles on Apa’a Street from the lava. So far, it’s not affecting power in the area.

County officials say the smoke from the burning asphalt isn’t impacting nearby residents, but that could change depending on the winds.

On Saturday, officials went door-to-door giving residents an update on the flow.

“Most people have vacated. They have moved out of their homes. There’s only a few people left,” said Franchesca Martin-Howe, a Hawaii County Civil Defense worker.

“So the key right now is watching the flow advancement rate and giving people that time frame to take care of their evacuation needs,” said Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira.

It’s hard to say when the lava may reach homes, but residents should be ready. Civil Defense officials say residents in the lava’s path will be placed on an evacuation notice. Those residents should be prepared for a possible evacuation by Tuesday. But residents can opt to leave sooner.

“I can only imagine what it would be like every night wondering, ‘Can I go to sleep? Is somebody gonna come tell me before there’s lava in my backyard?’ said Oliveira. “So really the residents can make some choices for themselves that if it’s too difficult, too challenging just to remain there, waiting for how this will play out, then they can voluntarily on their own make those decisions to leave now.”

One resident we spoke to says it’s been a difficult waiting game.

“Our anxiety level has been very high. It comes and goes. We find hanging out with the pets helps a lot. But there’s definitely been some uncomfortably tense moments and we hope to mitigate those in the future,” said Jeremy L., who’s lived in Pahoa for four years.

Civil Defense officials say crews will be monitoring the lava flow around the clock and will make adjustments as necessary.

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