For the first time since the Pu'u O'o crater flow started on June 27, officials are describing the impact it will have in the Pahoa area as inevitable.
"There's no indication the eruption is going to stop. We all need to plan and prepare for the possible events that would unfold, which is it coming through and affecting the highway and residential and business areas.
One of the problems with these lava flows is that they tend to follow cracks and lava tubes in old flows and it becomes difficult to figure out where and when they're going to stop. Pahoa is located on the SE end of the big island and if the lava continues to flow, it may very well cut off the main route to the rest of the island.
Approximately 500 people packed into Pahoa High School cafeteria for Thursday night's community meeting with geologists from the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and officials from Hawai‘i County Civil Defense.
"She's gonna come, it's inevitable. So I'm thankful for the planning. We just have to wait and see. We don't know what she's going to do. We don't know where she's going to go," said Lori Enriquez, a Kaohe Homesteads resident.
"If it wasn't for Pele we wouldn't be here today. We wouldn't call Hawai‘i Hawai‘i. I respect Tutu Pele 100%," said Ikaika Marzo, a Pahoa resident.
Bulldozers were running early Friday morning to continue work on an emergency alternate road that will route through Hawaiian Beaches and Hawaiian Paradise Park and bypass Highway 130 in case it's hit by the lava flow.
So this is kind of a slow motion disaster for the people on the SE part of the island. Lava flows can be spectacular events, but also very destructive. This flow could shake up a lot of lives in the area, so we wish them well.
Here's the latest from the HAWAIIAN VOLCANO OBSERVATORY
Activity Summary: Kīlauea continued to erupt at its summit and within the East Rift Zone, and gas emissions remained elevated. Summit inflation continued, with only slight fluctuations in lava level. At the middle East Rift Zone, the front of the June 27th flow continues to advance through forest near Kaohe Homesteads, and surface breakouts are also present closer to Puʻu ʻŌʻō.
June 27th Lava Flow Observations: The June 27th lava flow remains active. An HVO overflight yesterday at 12:30 pm showed the flow front was still moving in a general northeast direction, bringing it closer to the western boundary of Kaohe Homesteads (which is the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna forest reserve). The flow front at that time was 14.9 km (9.3 miles) from the vent, measured in a straight line, and 170 m (0.1 miles) from the Forest Reserve/Kaohe Homesteads boundary. The actual length of the flow, measured along the lava tube axis (so that bends in the flow are considered) is 17.1 km (10.6 miles). Between September 6 and 10, the flow front advanced at approximately 400 meters (460 yards) per day. Between September 10 and 12 the advance rate dropped to approximately 250 meters (270 yards) per day. The flow front is still in thick forest, creating smoke plumes as it engulfs trees and other vegetation, but fires are not spreading away from the flow.
Small breakouts also remain active closer to Puʻu ʻŌʻō, roughly midway along the length of the June 27th flow. None of these breakouts have been very vigorous recently, but are also producing smoke plumes as they creep into the adjacent forest.
Puʻu ʻŌʻō Observations: There was slight deflationary tilt at Puʻu ʻŌʻō over the past day. Glow was visible overnight above several outgassing openings in the crater floor. Aerial views yesterday found small lava ponds within the northeast, north, south and southeast pits. The most recent sulfur-dioxide emission-rate measurement for the East Rift Zone was 400 tonnes per day (from all sources) on September 2, 2014.
If you're into geology and you ever get a chance to visit volcanoes National Park, it's pretty amazing.
Good luck to the people threatened by Pele's awakening.
A side note: If the English language ever runs out of vowels, blame Hawaii. I've yet to find a Hawaiian word that has more consonants than vowels.