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HELCO Update on Power Restoration in Puna

Electric service to approximately 1,500 customers was restored yesterday as crews continue to make progress on restoring power in the Puna District. Power has been restored in Hamakua, Ainaloa, Orchidland Estates, and portions of Upper Puna, Hawaiian Beaches and Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Approximately 200 workers have mobilized to work in the field on restoring power, including 22 electrical line crews, 14 tree trimming crews, and 25 construction crews contracted to dig holes for utility poles. An additional 40 crew members will be arriving, including crews from Maui Electric, Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, and contracted companies.

With the additional workforce, crews have identified some previously unreported outages. In addition, more customers have called in outage reports. Currently, an estimated 6,600 customers are without power. This estimate includes the recently reported outages.

“With all of the additional help we’ve received, our crews are making steady progress and also identifying new problems we need to address. Our customers are also helping by serving as our eyes on the ground. We thank them for their patience and understanding. This really is a collective effort by our entire community to recover from this storm,” said Darren Pai, Hawaii Electric Light spokesman.

Today, electrical line crews expect to make progress in the following areas: Leilani Estates, Hawaiian Beaches, Hawaiian Paradise Park, and portions of Upper Puna. Crews also hope to make progress along the highway from Pahoa to Kalapana.

In addition, contracted tree trimming and construction crews are working to clear fallen trees, debris, and dig utility pole holes in Nanawale Estates, Hawaiian Paradise Park, and other areas throughout the Puna District. This work is needed to prepare the area for electrical line crews to set new poles and repair fallen power lines and other damaged equipment. Restoration progress may be impacted by access to due storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

“We know there are customers in areas where they don’t see crews working. In many cases, we need to do additional work on the system away from their exact location in order to restore their power,” Pai said.

There are pockets throughout the Puna district where the damage is so severe that customers should be prepared for an extended outage. Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, preliminary estimates indicate it could take up to three weeks to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage, and in some cases even longer. These estimates are still preliminary and actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

Important safety information

As the restoration work progresses, Hawaii Electric Light urges the public to remember these important safety tips:

  • Do not handle or move any fallen or damaged utility equipment.
  • Do not approach any downed power lines, as they may have electricity running through them and can be dangerous. If you see someone injured by a downed power line, call 9-1-1 for assistance.
  • Use generators outdoors and away from flammable materials. Generators connected directly to your home may feed excess electricity back into power lines, creating a public safety hazard. Plug appliances directly into your generator, using extension cords.
  • Unplug unnecessary and sensitive electronic equipment. Use high-quality surge suppressors for electric appliances that remain plugged in.
  • Use batteries to power flashlights and lanterns. Do not use candles or other flammable fuel sources, as they are fire hazards.
  • Be aware of trees and utility poles that were weakened by storm winds and have the potential for falling.

Hawaii Electric Light continues to operate its Customer Information Center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches. Several hundred people have been visiting the center daily. Company representatives will be on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. Customers may bring their electronic devices and get them charged. A charging station will be available at the center. The center will remain open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as the restoration process continues.

Safeway Sending 16 Tons of Ice to Puna District

Safeway is sending over 16 tons of ice – 32,400 pounds to the Puna District of the Big Island to help residents who are still without electricity following Tropical Storm Iselle.

The ice will be distributed through the American Red Cross aid station at the Pahoa Community Center on Thursday. The ice is expected to be available by 2 p.m.

Safeway is shipping two containers of ice from Oahu to Hilo to help meet the demand. Earlier this week, the company also trucked a container of ice from its store in Kailua-Kona to its store in Hilo.

“Many of our neighbors in the Puna area have been hit hard by Iselle and are still in need of basic supplies,” said George Glukfeld, Safeway Hawaii district manager. “This is the time for our entire community to pull together and do what we can to help in the relief effort.”

 

Commentary – Daniel K. Inouye Extension Needs To Be Constructed

The South Kohala Traffic Safety Committee recently submitted a letter criticizing the HDOT for deleting the proposed Waimea Bypass from the FY2015-2018 +2 STIP in lieu of the Daniel K. Inouye (formerly SaddleRoad) extension.

Mrs. Irene Inouye, Governor Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi dedicate the former Saddle Road as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

Mrs. Irene Inouye, Governor Neil Abercrombie and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi
dedicate the former Saddle Road as the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.

I agree Kawaihae Road is in dire need of safety improvements. There is no way this can be disputed. However, I don’t think it is fiscally prudent to construct a 5 mile bypass road that would benefit only a
small subset of the population. The Daniel K. Inouye Highway extension, on the other hand, will reduce the amount of traffic on both Waikoloa Road and Kawaihae Road.

Both of these substandard roadways are currently handling inbound and outbound military and commercial traffic heading back and forth from Kawaihae. It would make sense to construct a new highway between Queen Kaahumanu and Daniel K. Inouye Highway to relieve the burden on Kawaihae and Waikoloa Roads.

The United States Highway Trust Fund is practically insolvent, so I strongly believe we need to construct highway projects that will benefit the most people. I believe the Daniel K. Inouye Highway extension is the best choice in these fiscally constrained times.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

DHS Opens Assistance Offices for SNAP Beneficiaries on Hawaii Island

The Department of Human Services (DHS) Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) is opening four assistance offices for current SNAP beneficiaries on the east side of Hawaii Island.

Department of Human Services

BESSD representatives will be stationed at the below locations Mondays –Fridays between 8:30 am – 3:30 pm, through August 22. These sites will be closed Friday, August 15 for the Admissions Day holiday. They are: Hawaiian Shores Community Center; Nanawale Estates Community Association; Leilani Estates Community Center Association; and Hawaiian Paradise Park – Church of the Nazarene

Lava Flow Continues to Advance Through Forest

The June 27 flow remains active, and has advanced further into the forest over the past week.

Click to Enlarge Photos

Click to Enlarge Photos

The flow front today was 8.5 km (5.3 miles) northeast of the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō (see “map” link above for current flow field map). The flow’s continued brisk advance rate is likely related, in part, to its continued confinement by local topography.

Another view of the flow front, looking east. The small bump on the horizon, near the center of the photograph, is the forested cone of Heiheiahulu. (Click to Enlarge)

Another view of the flow front, looking east. The small bump on the horizon, near the center of the photograph, is the forested cone of Heiheiahulu. (Click to Enlarge)

Yesterday, the narrow flow front was within one of the many linear depressions (grabens) on the East Rift Zone. Puʻu ʻŌʻō can be seen in the distance.

Portions of the June 27 lava flow continue to expand and cover older flows from Puʻu ʻŌʻō. (Click to Enlarge)

Portions of the June 27 lava flow continue to expand and cover older flows from Puʻu ʻŌʻō. (Click to Enlarge)

Thick fume continues to obscure views into Puʻu ʻŌʻō Crater with the naked eye.

The thermal camera has proven useful recently to see the hidden activity, which includes several small lava ponds (see thermal image from the July 29 overflight, below). Click to Enlarge

The thermal camera has proven useful recently to see the hidden activity, which includes several small lava ponds (see thermal image from the July 29 overflight, below). Click to Enlarge

A skylight reveals the fluid lava stream within the main tube on the June 27 lava flow.

The recently active perched lava pond is in the upper left portion of the photograph. (Click to Enlarge)

The recently active perched lava pond is in the upper left portion of the photograph. (Click to Enlarge)

A closer look into the skylight on the June 27 lava flow, revealing complex structure within the lava tube.

The bright incandescent area is the fluid lava stream, which was slowly but steadily flowing through the tube. (Click to enlarge)

The bright incandescent area is the fluid lava stream, which was slowly but steadily flowing through the tube. (Click to enlarge)

 

Mainland Law Firm “Fears for Their Safety in Hawaii”

I mentioned a few months ago about a lawsuit that local artist Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker had filed against CafePress for copyright infringements.

Illegal  “knock off” Slippers with “Forbidden Island” original art by Brad Parker.

Illegal “knock off” Slippers with “Forbidden Island” original art by Brad Parker.

Looking at a motion filed in Honolulu Federal Court last month, it appears that Greenburg Traurig LLP,  one of the largest law firms on the planet “fears for their attorney’s safety due to threat of violence against them in the State of Hawaii, especially in Kona!”

What the heck… this isn’t the Christopher Deedy trial or anything like that.

With over 35 offices and employing 1700 + attorneys globally, Greenburg Traurig is a massive law firm who is currently defending the highly publicized copyright infringement lawsuit filed against their client Cafe Press by Big Island based Tiki Shark Art Inc.

“It is astonishing to see what legal maneuvers these big law firms pull out of their hats to try to outspend a small company like mine when money is no object”  Brad Parker Owner and Artist at Tiki Shark Art Inc. said.

Brad at Capital

Brad “Tiki Shark” Parker at the Capital

“However, for the sake of all my fellow artists who Cafe Press has ripped off, I feel obligated to see this case to its end to the best of my company’s financial ability” Parker told me.

Despite several unsuccessful legal tactics used by the Mainland law firm to move some of the motions to Los Angeles – California, the case is set for a jury trial in Honolulu in February 2015.