Update 27 october 2014
The lava flow is just 70 yards from the nearest Pahoan home on Monday evening. The speed dropped from 10 – 15 yards an hour to just 2. If the lava continues to advance, it will destroy the property in less than one day. During the afternoon, the molten rock was just 570 yards from the main town road. Two roads have been closed.
Flowing lava may force the residents of Pahoa to abandon their homes and move out in just a couple of days. The lava front is 35 feet wide and advances at 10 yards per hour.
Kilauea is a young and restless volcano positioned in the southern part of the Big Island. The 4,000 feet high volcano started erupting in 1983 and hasn’t stopped since then, making in the longest-lived eruption in the world.
On June 27, lava erupting from Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent slowly started taking the path to Pahoa, a small nearby town just 20 miles away. As the lava passed a nearby road, the outskirts of Pahoa are now threatened. Moreover, the lava could cover highway 130 in just a couple of days, after it crosses the town’s main street. So far, the molten rock past over uninhabited rainforest, a cemetery and Apa’a Road. The toxic fumes produced when the lava crosses asphalt have fortunately not reached populated areas.
Hawaii County Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira told 50 residents that they should be prepared to abandon their homes by Tuesday. On Sunday, the lava was just 300 yards away from the closest home.
“The current timelines are based on the current flow rates, and that could change. That could speed things up, as well as it could slow things down,” Oliveira said. “The key is that we will be watching the flow 24/7.”
The molten rock will leave the residents of Pahoa isolated if it crosses highway 130. Pahoans may lose access to electricity as well, if the lava destroys the utility poles. Scientists devised a protection system that proved effective for the time being. Utility poles have been wrapped in insulating foil and plenty of cinder kept together by cattle fencing. But the 18-feet high protection may lose effectiveness if the 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit lava flow grows higher.
People are determined to stay there until the last moment. The tragic event is a prolonged nightmare for Pahoans.
“I’m not planning to leave until the lava reaches right about here,” said Alfred Lee, pointing to the ground in front of his Apa’a Street house. “It’s gonna come sooner or later.”
Others decided to be extra cautious and moved out already. The church will serve as an evacuation center if needed. Portable classrooms are already build outside the town. The 1,000 inhabitants are prepared to welcome the lava.