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Summit Deflation Leads to Slight Drop in Lava Lake Level

The U.S. Geological Survey reports summit deflation began the morning of Wednesday, April 18, 2018, and the lake level has dropped slightly.

In this photo, an HVO geologist checks on a time-lapse camera on the rim of Halema‘uma‘u Crater. A large spatter site is active along the east margin of the lake. Courtesy U.S. Geological Survey.

On Wednesday morning, April 18, the lake was about 14 meters (46 feet) below the overlook of the crater rim, having dropped roughly 4 meters (13 feet) since yesterday morning.

Brewfest Raises $100K for Local Beneficiaries

The 23rd Annual Kona Brewers Festival, also known as the Kona Brew Fest, took place this Saturday, March 10, 2018, at the Courtyard of King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel in Kailua-Kona.

Mugs were given to all attendees of the Kona Brewers Festival.

This year, the taps started to flow at 3 p.m. and most of the food was gone by 6 p.m. as the event raised over $100,000 for 20 local beneficiaries.

The first year of the festival was in 1996, when the event raised about $5,000 so the festival has really grown over the years.

Nearly 3,000 people attended this year’s Kona Brewers Festival, with 2,100 tickets sold.

There were over 40 breweries from all over the world on-hand for public tastings. The festival had to turn down about a dozen breweries.

Festival Executive Director Kate Jacobson said that the festival has a huge impact on the local economy and that hotel rooms are always sold out throughout the area during the weekend of the festival.

(L–R) Executive Director Kate Jacobson, Media and Marketing Coordinator Summer Carrick and Kona Brewers Festival BOD President Mattson Davis.

Summer Carrick, director of media and marketing for the festival said that the event has previously sold-out in under six minutes. Those wanting to attend next year’s festival should purchase tickets as soon as they are available.

Festival Board of Directors President Mattson Davis, the former CEO of Kona Brewing Company, stated that the initial intent of the festival was to celebrate the birthday of the Kona Brewing Company and that they weren’t interested too much in wines; however, they have had a few ciders represented at the festival.

One of the main highlights of the festivals is the “Trash Fashion Show” that showcased island models wearing costumes and outfits designed from recycled trash.

Trash Fashion Show models at the 2018 Kona Brewers Festival.

And yes, there was at least one wardrobe malfunction during the fashion show.

Ah yes, even Sesame Street Characters were involved…

 

‘No Outlet’ Restriction Trial Discontinued

The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) announces that it is discontinuing the trial “no outlet” restriction from 29th Avenue (also known as Poni Moi Avenue) onto Kea‘au-Pāhoa Road (Highway 130).

This restriction, which sought to improve the efficiency of the highway by limiting the side street connections, was put in place Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018, and concluded Tuesday, March 6, 2018.

“After weighing the public feedback and the benefits of the ‘no outlet’ restriction at 29th Avenue we have decided to look at other options to improve the operations of Highway 130,” said HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen. “Much mahalo to the Hawaiian Paradise Park residents for their cooperation and patience during this trial.”

The HDOT Highways Division, Hawaii District is currently exploring other options to increase efficiencies along Kea‘au-Pāhoa Road. More information on upcoming operational improvements will be made available at a later date.

Bill Limiting Telescopes on Maunakea Passes Senate 25–0

Hawai‘i Senate Bill 3090 SD2 passed the Hawai‘i Senate in favor with a vote of 25–0 today, Tuesday, March 6, 2018, and now moves over to the Hawai‘i House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 3090 SD2:

Establishes the Maunakea Management Authority. Limits the number of telescopes that may be authorized on Maunakea.

Authorizes the renegotiation of leases, subleases, easements, permits, and licenses pertaining to Maunakea. Requires that revenue derived from activities on Maunakea be shared with the Office of Hawaiian Affairs. Excludes Maunakea lands from the definition of “public lands.” Provides for free access to Maunakea for traditional cultural purposes. Establishes police powers and provides for enforcement of laws on land under the jurisdiction of the Maunakea Management Authority. Appropriates funds. Effective 12/31/2033.

A statewide series of community presentations about the future of Maunakea begins tonight from 6:30 to 9 p.m. in Nānākuli at Ka Waihona O Ka Na‘auo, 89-195 Farrington Highway.

A meeting has been scheduled for the Big Island in Hilo with Sens. Kahele and and Rep. Chris Todd at Keaukaha Elementary School on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Zonta to Honor Hirono & Community Leader with Rose Award

The Zonta Club of Hilo will honor Sen. Mazie Hirono and community leader Irene Nagao with its biennial “Rose Award of Excellence” on Monday, March 26, 2018, at the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel, Moku Ola Ballroom. Doors open at 4:30 p.m., dinner and program starts at 5:30 p.m.

The Zonta Rose Award of Excellence recognizes women who have made a significant impact on the lives of others through their employment, volunteer activities and associations. The award is part of Zonta International’s observance of International Women’s Day and Zonta Rose Day. Zonta’s mission is to empower women through service and advocacy.

“We are proud to celebrate Sen. Hirono’s work to improve the quality of life for humanity across the globe and Irene’s efforts here at home to help those who need a second or third chance at life,” said Julie Tulang, Zonta Hilo service chair. “Both women have gone above and beyond in service to the local and global community, and truly embody Zonta’s mission to empower women.”

Sen. Hirono has led a life of public service. From working to protect victims of domestic violence to extending protections for Filipino veterans of US military, Sen. Hirono is a fierce advocate for Hawaii, women, children and immigrants in Congress. Nagao, president of Going Home Hawai‘i, has convened public and private groups to support programs for youth as well as those experiencing traumatic loss or integrating back into the community from incarceration.

A limited number of tickets, which includes dinner, are available; $55 a person, or $550 for a sponsor table of eight. Purchase tickets at ZontaRose2018.eventbrite.com by Monday, March 12, 2018. For more information email info@zontahilo.org.

Mayor Kim Supports Medical Use of Marijuana

In a letter dated February 28, 2018, Hawai‘i County Mayor wrote to long time Marijuana Activist Roger Christie, that he does support the medical use of marijuana and further studies of medical use.

Mayor Kim wrote:

Dear Mr. Christie:

I am writing regarding your request for a letter of support regarding cannabis in Hawai‘i County.

You emailed my office on February 21, 2018 regarding adolescents and cannabis, among other things.

Long ago I explained to you my feelings about marijuana. I do support the medical use of marijuana and further studies of medical use. I do not support the use of marijuana by our youth.

Thank you for taking the time to write to me.

Aloha,

Harry Kim, Mayor

HI-SEAS ‘Mission to Mars’ Cancelled

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Mission VI has been cancelled as a crewmember has voluntarily withdrawn participation in the study.

It is not possible to perform a mission with a crew of three.

Further, an investigation is ongoing into an incident that occurred on Feb. 19, 2018, temporarily suspending the mission.

A crewmember was transported from the HI-SEAS dome at the 8,200-foot level of Mauna Loa on Feb. 19 and admitted to Hilo Medical Center for required medical attention. The crewmember was under observation for a few hours before being released.

After a full safety inspection of the habitat has been performed, a new call for applicants will be released to compose a new crew for another mission based on a review by the institutional review board.

HI-SEAS Crewmember Transported to Hilo Hospital

A crewmember of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hawaiʻi Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Mission VI was admitted this morning to Hilo Medical Center for required medical attention and was under observation for a few hours before being released.

The crewmember was taken to the hospital from the HI-SEAS dome at the 8,200-foot level of Mauna Loa at about 8 a.m. today.

Under Institutional Research Board regulations, no further medical information can be provided without the crew member’s permission.

Crew safety is the top priority and, in line with safety protocols, the mission has been postponed and the crew has left the dome, according to HI-SEAS Principal Investigator Kim Binsted.

The mission will remain suspended until an inspection of the dome and investigation are completed.

HI-SEAS Mission VI started on Feb. 15, 2018, with four crewmembers and was scheduled to last eight months.

The crewmembers are from Australia, Korea, Scotland and Slovakia.

The NASA-funded project studies human behavior and performance and aims to help determine the individual and team requirements for long-duration space exploration missions, including travel to Mars.

Flash Flood Watch for All Hawai‘i Islands

The National Weather Service has issued a Flash Flood Watch for all islands through Monday afternoon.

A strong upper level trough approaching from the northwest will provide increasingly unstable conditions across the state today through Monday. This will combine with moisture pooled around a weak surface trough drifting westward from near O‘ahu to produce the threat of heavy, flooding rainfall and thunderstorms. Heavy showers and thunderstorms have already occurred across the eastern and central parts of the state, and the threat of heavy, flooding rainfall and thunderstorms will spread westward to Kaua‘i later today.

Abundant low level moisture over the eastern and central parts of the state will spread westward to Kaua‘i today. A strong upper level trough approaching the state will produce unstable conditions that will generate heavy showers and thunderstorms.

Due to increasing instability, heavy showers and thunderstorms could develop rapidly. Heavy rainfall could affect urban and leeward areas, which are more susceptible to flooding problems.

A Flash Flood Watch means that conditions may develop that lead to flash flooding. Flash flooding is a dangerous situation. Please monitor forecasts and be prepared to take action should Flash Flood Warnings be issued.

$500,000 for Master Plan for Pāhoa Elementary School

Pahoa Elementary School.

Rep. Joy San Buenaventura received a letter from Hawai‘i Gov. David Ige announcing that the state has released $500,000 in Capital Improvement Project (CIP) funding to finance a master plan for Pāhoa Elementary School.

Gov. Ige said:

Aloha Representative San Buenaventura:

I am pleased to let you know that my administration has released funding for the following Capital Improvement Project(s) (CIP):

Name: Pāhoa Elementary School, Master Plan, Hawai‘i

Description: To finance a master plan for Pāhoa Elementary School.

Amount Released: $500,000

Mahalo for your work on behalf of the residents of your district to secure these funds.
Projects such as these are critical components of the public infrastructure and
contribute to building a better home for our kupuna, keiki, and all the residents of
Hawai‘i.

A list of released CIP and CIP Grants-In-Aid (GIA) will be emailed once a month.

By working collaboratively, we can climb the mountains of challenges that face Hawai‘i.

With warmest regards,

David Y. Ige
Governor, State of Hawai‘i

Rep. Sanbuenventura said:

“Pāhoa Elementary School is the oldest elementary school in Puna. Despite its continued growth, Pāhoa Elementary School has had only one building and had been operating mostly from portable classrooms, a sub-standard administration building and no cafeteria. In fact, part of its playground has been coopted by the county for a baseball field.

Little children walk a careful line with escorts to cross the street to Pāhoa Intermediate/High school to eat. Thus, it is a long time coming that a master plan to design the school is finally coming to fruition instead of the hodgepodge portables connected by sometimes-covered walkways that the teachers and children have had to endure.”

Big Island Has State’s Highest Renewable Energy Percentage

The Hawai‘i Electric Light Company announces that the companies achieved a consolidated 27% renewable portfolio standard in 2017, up from 26% the year before. The increase was achieved primarily by the addition of new grid-scale and private rooftop solar systems.

Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light are well on their way to achieving the next mandated RPS milestone, 30% by 2020.

RPS represents the renewable energy used by customers as a percentage of total utility sales. Hawai‘i Island, with a mix of geothermal, solar, wind and hydroelectricity, had the highest renewable percentage at 57%, up from 54% in 2016. Maui County was at 34%, compared with 37% in 2016, and O‘ahu was 21%, up from 19% in 2016.

Maui saw a decline due to a decrease in the available wind energy. Maui Electric used 95% of the total wind power available, the highest percentage ever accepted from the island’s three wind farms.

The three companies also track the peak renewable energy production for the year. These peaks are typically achieved on sunny, windy days when demand for electricity is low and renewable production is high. The peak on Hawai‘i Island was reached on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017 when 83% of electricity demand was met by renewables. The peak was 77% on Maui on Sunday, June 4, 2017 and 53% on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 on O‘ahu.

On O‘ahu, the 27.6-megawatt Waianae Solar project began operation in early 2017 and is the largest solar installation in the state. Private rooftop solar accounted for more than 70% of the 109 megawatts of new PV generation that came online on the five islands of the companies’ service territory last year. Annually, those new resources will displace more than 350,000 barrels of oil used for power generation.

The next milestone on Hawai‘i’s path to 100%, renewable energy will be in 2020 when the renewable portfolio standard requirement is 30%. The companies expect to integrate hundreds of megawatts of new renewable generation by mid-2019. There are four grid-scale solar projects and a biofuel-capable power plant under construction on O‘ahu and two grid-scale solar projects close to completion on Maui. Continued growth of private rooftop solar is expected on all islands.

In addition, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawai‘i Electric Light intend to issue requests for proposals in two stages over the next two years for renewable resources planned through 2022. Those include:

  • 220 megawatts (MW) of renewable generation for O‘ahu
  • 100 MW for the island of Maui
  • 50 MW for Hawaii Island

HDOT Announces Restriction to Improve Hwy 130 Traffic Flow

The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) announces a “no outlet” restriction from 29th Avenue (also known as Poni Moi Avenue) onto Kea‘au Pāhoa Road (Highway 130) Monday through Friday, between the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., excluding weekends and state holidays. This restriction is effective Monday, Feb. 19, 2018, and will be conducted on a trial basis through the morning of Monday, March 5, 2018.

Uncontrolled access along Highway 130 was identified as a safety concern in the Final Environmental Assessment for the Kea‘au Pāhoa Road Improvements. HDOT will consider limiting the number of access points to the highway in portions of the corridor in accordance with the recommendations from the Environmental Assessment.

“We are constantly exploring cost-efficient and effective ways to improve our highways system,” said HDOT Deputy Director for Highways Ed Sniffen. “Hawai‘i District crews have observed A.M. traffic building in this area due in part to multiple side street connections to the highway. We are limiting access from 29th Avenue as a test to evaluate the benefits and impacts of the restriction.”

Signage to notify motorists of the “no outlet” restriction, as well as traffic control devices, will be placed at the intersection to alert motorists to the trial.

HDOT would appreciate any comments on this pilot from the community. Please send comments to DOTPAO@hawaii.gov or call the HDOT Hawai‘i District at (808) 933-8866 prior to the end of the trial on Monday, March 5, 2018.

Civil Defense Accountability Bill Following Hawai‘i False Missile Alert

Many folks in Hawai‘i were terrified following the false alert that a ballistic missile was inbound.  In response to that false alert sent out to Hawai‘i residents on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard today introduced the Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018 to:

  • Address the vulnerabilities that allowed the false alert to go out to more than a million people across the state and go uncorrected for 38 minutes;
  • Ensure transparent investigations into the incident through online public disclosure requirements;
  • Establish best practices to strengthen state and national preparedness and disaster communications plans; and
  • Evaluate and strengthen preparedness nationwide to respond to biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear attacks to the United States.

Reps. Colleen Hanabusa and Don Young are original cosponsors of the bipartisan legislation.

The Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018 would require the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Defense (DoD), and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to publicly disclose incident and recommendation reports about the Saturday, Jan. 13, false alert. It would also compel ballistic missile civil defense agencies to review the current notification protocols for ballistic missile threats and study the best practices regarding civil defense emergencies to prevent a similar catastrophic mistake. In addition, the bill would instruct the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to publicly detail the ability of HHS and health care providers to respond to a biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear weapons attack.

Rep. Gabbard said: “The false ballistic missile alert sent out across Hawai‘i corroded public trust and revealed gaps in preparedness measures at every level of government. Given the threats we face and the vulnerabilities that have been exposed, there are serious changes that need to take place at the federal, state, and local levels to ensure this kind of colossal failure never happens again. Along with providing Hawaii’s people with timely answers into what went wrong and why, we also need to investigate the gaps that exist at home and across the country that could trigger or perpetuate future emergencies. Our legislation will ensure the lessons learned from Hawaii’s false alert are used to identify and fix preparedness gaps nationwide.”

“Last month, Hawaiians experienced a terrifying false ballistic missile alert which is unacceptable,” said Congressman Young. “The chaos and uncertainty throughout that situation should not happen again which is why I’m proud to be a cosponsor of this legislation. By addressing the conditions that caused this false alarm to happen in the first place, we can establish and improve best practices for our civil defense operations. This bill will improve public outreach when real emergencies take place which is crucial for restoring people’s trust in their government’s readiness and commitment to public safety.”

“This legislation is an important part of rebuilding the public’s trust in government,” said Congresswoman Hanabusa. “One of our basic responsibilities is to provide public safety, especially in a moment of crisis. The morning of January 13th revealed an unfortunate array of issues within the Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA), the protocols and policies that govern the issuance of a ballistic missile alert and the community’s preparation and response. In the weeks since the false alarm, we have heard confusing, often conflicting accounts from state officials about what went wrong and who is responsible. The public deserves a transparent, accurate accounting, like the one recently completed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), so we can make corrections and move forward. This incident also highlighted the need to review HI-EMA’s Attack Warning Signal system and our community response plan in the event of a biological, chemical, radiological or nuclear attack. Mahalo to Congresswoman Gabbard and Congressman Young for their bipartisan efforts to help restore the community’s faith in government and ensure we are better prepared.”

Background: The Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018 would:

  • Assess Current Reporting Procedures: Within 90 days, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of Federal Communications Commission, is required to submit a report to Congress regarding the current notification protocols for ballistic missile threats. This report will assess the notification protocols required under Federal Law or regulations of federal and state entities and the communications between these entities, after a ballistic missile threat is identified, during a ballistic missile threat, and regarding ballistic missile impact warnings.
  • Establish Best Practices: Within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting through FEMA, is required to conduct a study to identify the best practices regarding civil defense emergencies. This study will identify plans for local, state, and federal communications before, during, and after a civil defense emergency. In addition, the study will include plans for State communication with residents and local and State security and contingency plans. The initial study shall include no fewer than 13 states, including Hawaii, Alaska, California, Washington, and five states bordering an ocean including the Gulf of Mexico. Within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary of State will also submit a report to Congress regarding the 13 state study including deficiency trends, best practices, and plans to improve public outreach regarding civil defense emergencies. The unclassified portions of this report will be disseminated to states within 270 days.
  • Evaluate Federal Response: Within 60 days of enactment, the Secretary of Defense, the Administrator of FEMA, and the Director of the FCC will provide to Congress and publish an online report detailing their agencies’ actions during the ballistic missile false alarm in Hawai‘i. The report will also detail corrective actions and recommendations to prevent future false alarms.
  • Strengthen Public Health Preparedness: Within 180 days, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the Office of the Assistant Secretary of for Preparedness and Response, will submit a report to Congress and publish an online report regarding the ability of HHS and health care providers to respond to biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear weapons attacks on the U.S. The Secretary is also required to submit recommendations to Congress and develop a public outreach program in coordination with local and State entities using these recommendations. The Secretary of Health and Human Services will also take into consideration the recommendations in the report when issuing grants under the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement and the Hospital Preparedness program.

BILL SUMMARY:

Section 1 – Short Title “Civil Defense Accountability Act of 2018”

Section 2 – Findings: Findings note the traumatizing false missile alert sent to individuals, residents, and visitors in Hawai‘i on January 13; the President’s National Security Strategy that highlights a growing nuclear threat posed by North Korea; the re-implementation of monthly outdoor warning siren system tests in Hawai‘i; a HI-EMA launch-to-landing ballistic missile estimation from North Korea to Hawai‘i; and a Missile Defense Agency assessment that sophisticated ballistic missile technology is widely available to adversary nations of U.S. and its allies.

Section 3 – Report Regarding Current Ballistic Missile Notification Protocols: Within 90 days, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of Homeland Security and the Director of Federal Communications Commission, is required to submit a report to Congress regarding the current notification protocols for ballistic missile threats. This report will assess the notification protocols required under Federal Law or regulations to federal and state entities and the communications between these entities, after a ballistic missile threat is identified, during a ballistic missile threat, and regarding ballistic missile impact warnings.

Section 4 – Civil Defense Emergency Best Practices: Within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting through FEMA, is required to conduct a study to identify the best practices regarding civil defense emergencies. This study will identify plans for local, state, and federal communications before, during, and after a civil defense emergency. In addition, the study will include plans for State communication with residents and local and State security and contingency plans. The initial study shall include no fewer than 13 states, including Hawai‘i, Alaska, California, Washington, and five states bordering an ocean including the Gulf of Mexico. Within 180 days of enactment, the Secretary of State will also submit a report to Congress regarding the 13 state study including deficiency trends, best practices, and plans to improve public outreach regarding civil defense emergencies. The unclassified portions of this report will be disseminated to states within 270 days.

Section 5- Incident Report Regarding Ballistic Missile False Alarm: Within 60 days of enactment, the Secretary of Defense, the Administrator of FEMA, and the Director of the FCC will provide to Congress and publish an online report detailing their agencies’ actions during the January 13 ballistic missile false alarm in Hawai‘i. The report will also detail corrective actions and recommendations to prevent future false alarms.

Section 6 – Public Health Recommendations: Within 180 days, the Secretary of Health and Human Services, through the Office of the Assistant Secretary of for Preparedness and Response, will submit a report to Congress and publish an online report regarding the ability of HHS and health care providers to respond to biological, chemical, radiological, or nuclear weapons attacks on the U.S. The Secretary is also required to submit recommendations to Congress and develop a public outreach program in coordination with local and State entities using these recommendations. The Secretary of Health and Human Services will also take into consideration the recommendations in the report when issuing grants under the Public Health Emergency Preparedness cooperative agreement and the Hospital Preparedness program.

Puna Man Charged in Kidnapping Incident

The Hawaiʻi Island Police Department has charged a 42-year-old Puna man in connection with a domestic violence related kidnapping incident.

Timothy Wayne Torres

Timothy Wayne Torres was arrested by patrol officers on Saturday, Feb. 2, 2018, at 2:15 p.m., in Puna and later charged by detectives with two misdemeanor and one felony abuse of a family or household member, kidnapping and first degree terroristic threatening in connection with an incident reported on Saturday, January 20.

Torres is being held at the Hilo cellblock in lieu of $55,000 bail pending his initial court appearance in South Hilo District Court scheduled for this afternoon, Monday, Feb. 5.

Anyone who may have any information about this incident is asked to call Detective Matthew Kaaihue of the Juvenile Aid Section at (808) 961-8883 or Matthew.Kaaihue@hawaiicounty.gov.

UPDATE: Strong Thunderstorm to Affect Parts of Big Island

UPDATE: Feb. 5, 2018, 3:43 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has just issued a report about a strong thunderstorm that will affect Hawai‘i County.

At 3:41 p.m., a strong thunderstorm was located between Honoka‘a and Waimea—about 33 miles northwest of Hilo. This storm was moving northeast at 25 mph.

Wind gusts up to 50 mph and dime size hail are possible with this storm.

Locations that may be affected by this storm include Honoka‘a and Pa‘auilo.

ORIGINAL POST, Feb. 5, 2018, 3:17 p.m.

The National Weather Service in Honolulu has just issued a Flood Advisory for Hawai‘i County until 6:15 p.m. HST.

At 3:09 p.m., radar indicated heavy rain near Pu‘uanahulu. Rain was falling at a rate of up to 3 inches per hour.

Locations in the advisory include but are not limited to Pololu Valley, Kohala Ranch, Pu‘uanahulu, Hawi, Halaula, Kamuela, Kapa‘au, Kawaihae, Puako, Waikoloa Village, Waimanu Valley and Waipio Valley.

Stay away from streams, drainage ditches and low lying areas prone to flooding.

Rainfall and runoff will also cause hazardous driving conditions due to ponding, reduced visibility and poor braking action.

Do not cross fast flowing or rising water in your vehicle, or on foot. Turn around, don’t drown.

This advisory may need to be extended beyond 615 PM HST if heavy rain persists.

Search Called Off for Nurse Swept Down River

The search for Kelly Mrowinski, the travelling nurse that got swept down the Wailuku River after going for a swim with her boyfriend at Pi‘ihonua Falls on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, has officially ended pending any new developments. Mrowinski’s body was not found.

Kelly Mrowinski. Courtesy NBC

Hawai‘i Fire Chief Darren Rosaio said that today, Monday, Feb. 5, 2018, “the helicopter was used today to do a final aerial search of the shoreline and Wailuku River.”

Hawaii Fire Department search and rescue for woman who was swept down Wailuku River.

Big Island Now asked Chief Rosario how many lives have been lost on the Wailuku River over the last decade and Chief Rosario stated that he knows of the following (incident reports) from 2011 from when he started to track incidents as a Fire Chief:

Incidents in last decade:

  • 2017 two incidents
  • 2016 one incidents
  • 2015 one incident
  • 2014 one incident
  • 2013 None
  • 2012 None
  • 2011 one incident

Chief Rosario stated, “We average one incident per year related to Wailuku River rescues.” The chief stated that he could not verify the outcomes of those incidents.

The Hawai‘i Fire Department will be releasing a formal media release on the incident soon.

Name of Tour Guide Who Passed Away Released

The Hawaiʻi Island Police Department is investigating the death of a tour guide in Puna.

At 8:16 a.m., Thursday morning, Feb. 1, 2018, police and fire department personnel responded to the Kalapana lava viewing area for a report of a man who had collapsed in the lava field while leading a hiking tour.

Investigators determined that just before 4 a.m., the group was approximately two miles inland from the 24.5-mile marker of the emergency road. Heavy steam clouds caused by the rain engulfed the group when the victim collapsed and went unconscious.

Due to limited visibility and poor cell phone reception, the remainder of the group, who were not familiar with the area, hiked for several hours before they were able to call for help.

The fire department’s helicopter located the victim’s body about 290 meters outside of the Volcanoes National Park boundary and on State land. The victim was taken to the Hilo Medical Center where the official pronouncement of death was made at 12:28 p.m.

The three visitors on the tour, a 22-year-old woman from South Carolina, a 23-year-old man from New Jersey, and a 22-year-old man from New York, were treated by medics for non-life-threatening injuries.

The victim was identified as 51-year-old Sean King of Pāhoa. No foul play is suspected and an autopsy is being ordered to determine the exact cause of death. Detectives with the Criminal Investigation Section are investigating this as an unattended death.

Anyone who may have information about this incident is asked to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at (808) 935-3311 or Detective Bobbie-Jo Sagon of the Area I Criminal Investigation Section at (808) 961-2375 or Bobbie-Jo.Sagon@hawaiicounty.gov.

PHOTO UPDATE: Missing Woman’s Friends, Co-Workers Express Concern

Kelly Mrowinski. PC: NBC

Kelly Mrowinski. PC: NBC

Kelly Mrowinski. PC: NBC

Kelly Mrowinski. PC: NBC

Kelly Mrowinski. PC: NBC

Kelly Mrowinski. PC: NBC

As the Hawai‘i Fire Department continues its search for Kelly Mrowinski, the traveling nurse from Chicago who was swept down the Wailuku River during a flash flood in Hilo on Friday, Jan. 26, 2018, relatives provided photos and friends and co-workers expressed heartfelt concern about the beloved nurse.

Mrowinski, in her mid-20s, went missing around 4 p.m. on Friday.

“We are deeply concerned about our travel nurse, Kelly, who is missing in Hawai‘i, and are doing everything we can to help comfort the families involved,” said an Aya Healthcare spokesperson. “We’ve reached out to Kelly’s family as well as her travel partner and roommate who is also a travel nurse with Aya Healthcare. We can only imagine what they must be feeling right now and want to make sure that they know we’re here to help. We’ve offered our support and are doing everything we can to be of assistance at such a difficult time. Kelly, her family and friends are all in our thoughts and prayers.”

“Kelly is an absolute ray of sunshine whenever we work together,” said Mrowinski’s Aya Healthcare recruiter. “She is always upbeat and has an infectious laugh and positive outlook on life. Nothing gets her down and I admire her outgoing spirit. She has the heart of a true traveler and a real zest for life.”

“Kelly is such a beautiful person inside and out and has the biggest smile,” said a childhood classmate of Mrowinski’s, who is also an Aya Healthcare employee. “She’s very outgoing, energetic and friendly—always surrounded by loved ones, laughing and having a good time.”

RELATED LINK
UPDATE: Search Continues for Woman Swept Away in Flash Flood

Guide Dies During Lava Tour

NPS File photo.

The Hawai‘i Fire Department reports that one person passed away and three others were injured in the Kalapana Chain Of Craters Road area of the Big Island near the Kalapana lava viewing area near Royal Gardens.

HFD reports that four people were overcome by a noxious steam cloud while on a guided hiking tour near the lava flow.

While on their tour, it rained, which created a noxious steam cloud that quickly surrounded them, affecting their vision and breathing.

The initial HFD call came in as four persons trapped in a noxious steam cloud.

The guide succumbed to the noxious effects of the cloud, while the other three people escaped.

The first unit on scene was Chopper 1 and they located the three people in a safe area.

Chopper 1 found the tour guide unresponsive in another location. He was air lifted to an awaiting ambulance crew.

After physical examination, it was determined that the victim was deceased.

Chopper 1 and Chopper 2 airlifted the three other people to safety; they sustained minor injuries and denied any further EMS services.

BIPC Call for Scholarship Applicants

The Big Island Press Club (BIPC) announces the availability of scholarships for students pursuing higher education in journalism and related careers. Last year, BIPC awarded a total of $4,600 to six Hawai‘i Island students at its annual scholarship dinner.

Application deadline is Monday, April 2, 2018. To qualify applicants must:

  • Have Big Island residential ties
  • Demonstrate an interest in journalism or related career
  • Be enrolled as a full-time student and show a record of academic achievement.

Annually BIPC offers scholarships honoring past Big Island journalists and advocates. The awards include the Robert C. Miller Memorial Scholarship, the Bill Arballo Scholarship, the Marcia Reynolds Scholarship, the Yukino Fukubori Memorial Scholarship, the Jack Markey Memorial Scholarship and the Hugh Clark Scholarship. Awards are determined by the BIPC Scholarship Committee to qualified applicants.

Past BIPC scholarship winners include Hawai‘i Tribune Herald reporter John Burnett, Waiākea High School graduate and Wall Street Journal writer Grad Alex Bitter, HMSA Senior Vice President Elisa Yadao, owner of Hiehie Communiications Ilihia Gionson, Legislative Assistant to District 3 Peter Sur and retired newspaper and radio reporter Chris Loos.

Applications must be postmarked by Monday, April 2, 2018, and announcement of winners will be at the BIPC Annual Scholarship dinner to be held in May.

Applications are available at the BIPC website. For more information email: scholarships@bigislandpressclub.org or call BIPC Treasurer, Robert Duerr (808) 937-9104.

Founded in 1967, the BIPC is the state’s oldest and most active media organization in the state of Hawai‘i.

BIPC also announces its annual the Lava Tube and the Torch of Light awards annually on Freedom of Information Day, March 16, the birthday of James Madison. For further information visit the Big Island Press Club website.