USGS Release – Living with Vog on an Active Volcano: New Resources

New informational products about the health hazards of volcanic air pollution known as “vog,” are available through a new interagency partnership.

With stagnant winds present, the plume from Halema`uma`u Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano, stands straight up, showing off the distant, but bright, full moon.  Photo taken 8/16/2016

With stagnant winds present, the plume from Halema`uma`u Crater at the summit of Kilauea Volcano, stands straight up, showing off the distant, but bright, full moon. Photo credit: Michael Poland, U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory Photo taken 8/16/2016

The products include a booklet of frequently asked questions, a brochure and poster about protecting yourself during vog episodes and a web-based “dashboard” that provides comprehensive links to a wide range of vog resources, including vog forecasts and air-quality information.

Communities downwind from Kīlauea Volcano’s active vents frequently experience vog as a visible haze or as a sulfurous smell or taste. People exposed to vog report a variety of symptoms, such as eye irritation, coughing, wheezing, sore throats and headaches. The new products were co-developed by U.S. Geological Survey scientists Tamar Elias and Jeff Sutton at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, John Peard and other officials at the Hawaii Department of Health, and Claire Horwell from Durham University in the United Kingdom, with participation by Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense and other agencies.

Peard, with Hawaii DOH said, “The diverse partnership has allowed us to develop new, consistent products that more fully address the needs of the community.”

“The products offer advice on vog protection measures, such as staying indoors, limiting physical activity, and staying hydrated when vog levels are high. Providing relevant, up-to-date information to a population living with decades of an ongoing volcanic eruption may help people to better cope with the frequent vog conditions,” said Horwell.

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geochemist measuring gases released from Kïlauea with a Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer, an instrument that detects gas compositions on the basis of absorbed infrared light. credit: Janet Babb, U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory geochemist measuring gases released from Kïlauea with a Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectrometer, an instrument that detects gas compositions on the basis of absorbed infrared light. credit: Janet Babb, U.S. Geological Survey, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

The new, mobile-friendly vog dashboard is hosted by the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network, a clearinghouse for information on the health impacts of volcanic eruptions. All of the new Hawaiʻi vog products are available online, and are accessible through the dashboard.

Vog, the pollution formed from acidic gases and particles released by active volcanoes, is composed primarily of sulfur dioxide (SO2) gas and its oxidation products, such as sulfate aerosol.  Sulfur dioxide from Kīlauea Volcano, now in its 34th year of nearly continuous eruption, leads to the vog that challenges communities, agriculture, and infrastructure on the Island of Hawai‘i and across the state. Scientists at USGS HVO regularly monitor the quantity and composition of gases released from Kīlauea. Among other things, HVO data are used as input for vog models that forecast the volcanic plume dispersion and vog locations.

Horwell’s previous study in 2015, investigated how Hawaiian communities perceive vog, how they protect themselves, and their preferences for receiving advice. The results from the study support the need for consistent online advice from all federal, state and local agencies; increased access to web- and non-web-based information on vog exposure and protection; and updated guidance on how to access resources about vog. HVO’s long involvement in vog studies, coupled with the community studies about perception and needs, led to the development of the new vog informational products.

For more information about Kīlauea Volcano’s ongoing eruptions, please visit HVO’s website, or network with others on the ‘Vog Talk’ Facebook group.

Community Voices Sought for Input on Public Education Plans

Since April, the Hawaii State Department of Education (HIDOE) and Board of Education’s (BOE) has engaged the community as it reviews its joint Strategic Plan. BOE members have hosted meetings in Waimea (Hawaii Island) and Wailuku, and the public has more opportunities to provide feedback at upcoming community meetings on Oahu, Kauai and Molokai.

A group brainstorms ideas during the Maui Community Meeting on Aug. 8.  Photo: Department of Education

A group brainstorms ideas during the Maui Community Meeting on Aug. 8. Photo: Department of Education

“It is important for us to dialogue with members of all sectors of our communities as we work on strategies towards achieving student success,” said Superintendent Kathryn Matayoshi. “Education affects all of us, that’s why we appreciate the public input provided so far and urge others to attend the few meetings we have left before finalizing plans that will set the direction for public education in the upcoming years.”

The public has the remaining opportunities to lend their voice at the following community meetings:

  • Aug. 22: Kailua High School College and Career Center, 451 Ulumanu Drive
  • Aug. 31: Manoa Public Library, 2716 Woodlawn Drive
  • Sept. 1: Kaunakakai Elementary School, 30 Ailoa Street
  • Sept. 14: Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School, 4431 Nuhou Street
  • Sept. 15: Waianae Public Library, 85-625 Farrington Highway

All meetings will be held from 5:00 – 6:30 p.m.

Storyline Consulting, a third-party facilitator, brought in to ensure the objective report of community input, reported on the first phase of HIDOE’s community outreach, which included 108 focus groups on six islands and 1,429 online survey responses. The Phase I report noted the following emerging themes as community-based descriptors of student success:

  • Giving back to the community, environment, and world;
  • Discovering and pursuing passions so students can reach their full potential;
  • Demonstrating strong academic and soft skills, and showing an ability to think critically, solve problems, and apply knowledge to new situations or contexts;
  • Being prepared for life after high school, including setting clear goals and developing short-term and long-term engagement in learning;
  • Exhibiting strength, confidence, and resilience in their every day lives and being generally healthy and happy; and
  • Gaining a strong sense of cultural understanding and appreciation for Hawaii.

For more information, view the digital and print reports.

The Department and BOE are updating the description of student success, and strategies for school and community innovation, professional development, leadership and more. A draft plan will be presented to the BOE in mid-October, and final plan will be presented to the BOE in December.

“Since we embarked on community engagement in April, we have received tremendous amounts of valuable information that will help us craft a Strategic Plan that meets the ever-changing needs of our students and community,” said Tammi Chun, assistant superintendent, Office of Strategy, Innovation and Performance. “The process has been two-fold as we’re also using the feedback from the community to help us with our state plan in response to the new federal education law, ESSA, that is required to receive federal funds.”

HIDOE continues to monitor the national changes for the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), and has offered feedback to the U.S. Department of Education (USED) on how the rules and timelines will impact Hawaii.  The Department took issue with the draft regulations appearing to be more prescriptive than what is described in the spirit of the law. HIDOE anticipates submitting the state’s plan for ESSA funding on the USED’s March 6, 2017 deadline.

For more information about the Strategic Plan and HIDOE’s ESSA efforts, click here; to join the conversation on social media use #HIQualityEd.

Hawaii Governor Extends Emergency Homeless Proclamation

Gov. David Y. Ige today signed a sixth supplemental proclamation on homelessness, which will remain in effect until Oct. 19. The supplemental proclamation provides 60 additional days in which to further expand the state’s collaborative efforts to house the most visible and chronic homeless individuals.  In the past year, the proclamations have helped more than 4,800 people — representing 1,353 families — move out of homelessness or prevent it altogether.

Click tor read

Click tor read

“The tide is turning,” said the Governor’s Coordinator on Homelessness Scott Morishige.  “Collectively, our state is moving forward with a unified strategy that addresses three levers of change: affordable housing, health & human services and public safety. All stakeholders are working together in unison across multiple sectors. This coordinated and persistent approach is moving people off the streets,” he said.

Lever One: Affordable Housing

A major priority for the Ige Administration is to increase affordable housing. The proclamations allowed for emergency housing of approximately 300 homeless individuals who were in jeopardy of being displaced after federal budget cuts to seven local organizations.

impact1Additionally, the proclamations reduced the development time of nine different joint projects with the counties by up to a year per project. These housing projects are specifically designed for homeless individuals and families, including the Family Assessment Center in Kaka`ako Makai, which will open in September and house 240 people per year.  Today’s supplemental proclamation adds two additional City & County of Honolulu long-term housing projects, bringing the total to 11.

Lever Two: Health & Human Services

The proclamations allowed faster distribution of financial resources for permanent housing and to prevent homelessness.  Between August 2015 and July 2016, there was a 51 percent increase in the number of individuals and families moving into housing or preserving housing, as compared to the prior 12-month period.   This includes a 55 percent increase on O‘ahu and a 47 percent increase on the neighbor islands.  The following programs received increased funding:

  • The State Homeless Emergency Grant (SHEG) provides one-time assistance for housing, food, medical and other types of expenses arising from emergency needs.
  • Housing Placement Program (HPP) provides first month’s rent or security deposit, as well as temporary case management, for homeless families with minor children.
  • Coordinated Statewide Homeless Initiative (CSHI) provides homelessness prevention and Rapid Re-Housing statewide, and increases coordination for the statewide telephone navigation service (2-1-1) for homeless individuals.

impact2

Lever Three: Public Safety

By enabling the quick execution of contracts and allocation of dedicated resources, the emergency proclamations supported the reduction in the number of unsheltered persons in the Kaka`ako Makai area.  The population decreased from a high of approximately 300 unsheltered persons in August 2015 to approximately 50 unsheltered persons in August 2016.

Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel Announces Real Estate Sale

Mauna Kea Resort Services LLC, which is an affiliate of Prince Resorts Hawaii Inc., has closed the sale of the 8,000-square foot Hapuna Villa and 96 of the hotel’s 350 guest rooms at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel to an affiliate of Angelo Gordon & Co. and development partner West Point Investment Corporation.

Hapuna Villa

Hapuna Villa

Proceeds from the sale will be used to fund renovations of the hotel’s public areas and remaining 254 guest rooms, enhance The Club at Mauna Kea amenities, and fund improvements to the golf club and fitness facilities at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel. Additionally, renovations and enhanced programming in food and beverage will deliver elevated offerings and unique experiences for hotel guests and the community.

Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel

“This deal comes at an ideal time as Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel embarks on an exciting future,” said Mauna Kea Resort vice president of operations, Craig Anderson. “The new business model means continuation of good jobs for our team members and a beautiful hotel for guests to enjoy for years to come.”

Hapuna Prince VillaPrince Resorts Hawaii will continue to operate all 351 guestrooms at Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel for the next 12 months while plans are prepared by the development team for conversion of the 96 guestrooms into new 5-star resort residences within one of Hawaii’s most admired resorts.

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to Conduct Harbor Security Exercise

Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) will be holding a harbor defense training exercise with activities that can be seen and heard in the vicinity of the harbor on Aug. 22 to 26 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Exercise Citadel Protect

During the training period, JBPHH will make “Giant Voice” announcements at the beginning and conclusion of the daily training exercises. The exercise will involve increased activities in the harbor, including using blank ammunition to simulate live fire. The exercise is not in response to any specific threat. There is no cause for concern.

This training is part of Exercise Citadel Protect, an annual exercise designed to enhance the training, readiness and capability of Navy security forces to respond to threats to military installations and units.

For questions, please contact JBPHH Public Affairs Office at (808) 473-3152 or 473-2924.