Pahoa businesses move out, National Guard heads in as lava approaches

Malama Market, Pahoa Marketplace

Emergency officials say the lava flow on the Big Island is still moving at a slow pace, advancing 130 yards since Thursday.

At this rate, lava could reach the back edge of Pahoa Marketplace in eight days, according to Hawaii County Civil Defense.

Officials don’t know the reason for the slowdown, or if the lava will continue at this pace. However, emergency officials and nearby businesses are getting ready for its arrival.

A CVS spokesperson said Thursday afternoon that Longs Drugs in Pahoa will be closed 1 p.m. Saturday. He said there should be an announcement soon about a temporary space to serve pharmacy customers. In the meantime, customers can use any other Longs location for their prescription needs, and pharmacy records are being transferred to the downtown Hilo store.

At 6 p.m. Thursday, Hawaii National Guard members will be stationed at the marketplace for security and safety purposes.

“(They will be) additional eyes and ears for police, because a lot of equipment and merchandise that might be stored in containers awaiting the removal from the property will be out in the parking lot,” Oliveira said. “We want to make sure to protect the interests of the merchants doing that.”

Empty shelves at Malama Market (Photo: Heart of Zen)
Empty shelves at Malama Market (Photo: Heart of Zen)

Meanwhile, tenants are packing up not knowing what will happen or even if they’ll return.

Workers at Lex Brodie’s are moving their equipment, including flammable materials.

“Chemicals, tire, rubber, getting equipment out of the area and putting in storage,” said Daniel Perreira, manager of Lex Brodie’s Pahoa. “We’re just getting ready for Madame Pele’s trip passing through or hopefully she does not pass, but (we’ve) got to be prepared.”

Customers are taking advantage of the final hours of Malama Market as the store gets ready to close at 6 p.m. Thursday.

“I’ve lived here over 20 years and I’ve always known that this could happen, but it’s sad to me,” said customer Alice Nix. “When I walked to Malama, I’m going to get teary, I got teary.”

Ace Hardware is also closing Thursday evening.

“We do have a lot of flammable and combustible products that we need to evacuate from the premises for community and fire safety,” said manager Don Adkins.

pahoa gas station 121714

All materials will be stored temporarily, then distributed to other Ace locations on the island.

Some businesses, have already shut down, including Subway, where workers spent the day removing items from the eatery, and the Malama Mart Gas ‘N Go, which closed Tuesday night to give Aloha Petroleum enough time to pump out the remaining fuel and remove equipment.

No one knows exactly what the lava will do, but they’re hoping for the best and expressing their gratitude now, just in case.

“If the lava were to stop and it would become stable, we would be more than happy to return to the community,” Perreira said. “Thank you for your patronage, hopefully we’ll see everybody again soon.”

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