On this last day of the year, there are many changes here on the big island of Hawai’i. The advance of Pele’s lava flow into the town of Pāhoa has many people moving out of the lower Puna district. The Puna district lava zones were always a risk for anyone wishing to move to this location. There is no other place along the Hawaiian Archipelago like the Puna district. It is special and sacred.
Wao Kele o Puna (Rain forest of Puna) is the largest remaining lowland rainforest just south of Hilo that sits along the Kilauea volcano rift zone. The Kilauea rift zone is in lava zones 1, 2 and 3.
The lower right side of the picture shows where the USGS believes the potential path lava will flow in any direction. In the past the lava has flowed south from the Pu’u ‘Ō ‘ō vent towards Kalapana, but that changed this year with the collapse of one of the vents walls. Now the lava is heading towards Pāhoa town.
If the lava reaches Pāhoa, and crosses the only road into lower Puna, it will cut off thousands of residences that live in Puna. It is the only way in and out of Puna. However, in anticipation of this eventuality, the county is creating two alternate roads to allow residents to enter and exit the Puna district.
There has been an increase in traffic in upper Puna in the Kea’au area. Since many of the Pāhoa shop owners have closed down, along with the Pāhoa Post Office, and Mālama Market, the largest grocery store in Pāhoa, traffic has increased in the Kea’au shopping center.
Twice now, Pele has stop short of crossing the highway, and only one home has been destroyed. To date, the lava has slowed and has only advanced a few hundred yards. We can only hope and pray that Pele decides to wander elsewhere. As one native Puna residence said (paraphrasing), “If that lava does come onto your land, be prepared. Be happy you had that many years to live on your land, and the opportunity to live in paradise. Show Aloha!”
Whatever happens, everyone is prepared for the worse. Hopefully. Meanwhile, Happy New Year.
What’s For Dinner?
Grilled Papaya Salad