Hawaii lava flow 'major disaster'

Pahoa awaits as lava slowly advances towards town

November 6, 2014

The lava flow on the Big Island of Hawaii has prompted President Barack Obama to declare the situation a ‘major disaster’ as it slowly advances.

The declaration frees up federal money to help protect local communities from the lava flow, which began moving toward homes on the big island of Hawaii on June 27 and is threatening Pahoa village.

The lava’s flow front stalled over the weekend and early Monday remained about 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road, which goes through downtown. A breakout of the flow remained about 100 yards from a house. Residents in the area have left or are preparing to leave.

The flow has decimated a cemetery near the town, excepting one headstone, which was considered a “miracle.”

CBS affiliate KGMB reports two significant lobes officials are closely watching. Officials say they each advanced about 75 yards recently and are about 75 to 100 yards wide.

Some have suggested diverting the flow from the town, but others disagree due to the high cost and risk of such an operation. Diverting the lava from Pahoa could just turn it toward another town.

“Whatever the efforts of humans are, they’ll be pretty puny compared to the long-term plans of the volcano,” said John Lockwood, a volcanologist who lives near Pahoa.

Kilauea has erupted continuously from its Pu’u O’o vent since 1983. The last home destroyed by lava on the Big Island was at the Royal Gardens subdivision in Kalapana in 2012.

The office of Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii on Monday said the representative had been called up to serve as a military police captain alongside some 80 National Guard members already in the area.

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