Governor Issues Executive Order Turning Over State-Owned Portion of Chain of Craters Road to Hawaii County

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today issued an executive order that turns over 3.68 miles of the state-owned portion of Chain of Craters Road near Kalapana to Hawaii County.

Chain of Craters

The executive order states that the land is “hereby turned over to the County of Hawaii, in fee simple, for use as a county highway, and the County of Hawaii shall hereafter be responsible for its repair and maintenance as a county highway.”

On Sept. 15, Gov. Abercrombie signed a supplemental emergency proclamation to include the repair, restorations, rebuilding, or reestablishment of Chain of Craters Road, for use as an alternate emergency route should the June 27th lava flow cross Highway 130 near Pahoa and isolate communities in lower Puna from the rest of Hawaii County. That proclamation, a supplement to the original emergency proclamation signed on Sept. 5, also extended the disaster emergency relief period through Dec. 1, 2014.

The original proclamation suspended certain laws as needed for emergency purposes, including state restrictions on reestablishing abandoned roads that may be used should lava cross Highway 130. It also activated the Major Disaster Fund set aside by the state Legislature for disaster relief and facilitates access to emergency resources at the state and federal levels.

 

Commentary – Growing Weary of the National Park Service

I’m growing weary of the National Park Service’s repeated attempts to stop development in North Kona. They’ve held up three different projects that I’m aware of over the past 14 years. The NPS has intervened in the Kaloko Makai, Kaloko Industrial Park expansion (phases III and IV) and the second phase of the Queen Kaahumanu Highway widening.

The latter project was slated to start in 2011, but the National Park Service intervened and requested a Section 106 consultation. This opened the door for other Native Hawaiian Organizations to intervene. The net result of these delays is approximately 100 construction workers are on the bench and a much-needed highway widening is stalled.

The National Park Service also intervened in TSA Corporation’s petition to reclassify 102 acres of land for the Kaloko Light Industrial Park expansion.They did a case study titled “Using State Laws And Regulations To Protect Parks From Adjacent evelopment”, which detailed their actions in this matter.

The TSA Corporation wasn’t able to start construction until mid 2007 due to the National Park’s intervention. However, the overall economy was sliding into the Great Recession at that time. These lots remain unsold to this day. The TSA Corporation never recouped their 43 million dollar investment as a result.

History is about to repeat itself on a more devastating scale if the Commission on Water Resource Management approves the NPS’s petition to designate the Keauhou Aquifer  as a water management area. The Department of Water Supply won’t be issuing new water meters until they can determine how much existing usage there is. In addition, all new requests for water will have to go through a quasi-judicial contested case hearing. This isn’t a quick process, as various experts will be presenting  contradictory information during these proceedings.

The National Park Service actions will undoubtedly affect future economic growth in North Kona as a result. Their actions are not only wasting taxpayer money, but also puts the residents on North Kona in harms way.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Chain of Craters Road to be Rebuilt as Emergency Route

The National Park Service announced today that it will work with the State and County of Hawai‘i to construct an emergency route along the former Chain of Craters Road to assist residents of lower Puna, whose access to the rest of the island would be cut off if lava covers Highway 130.

“For the past several weeks, we have been putting all of our efforts into getting approval for an alternate route that can be used during this devastating emergency,” said Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park Superintendent Cindy Orlando.

Scientists at the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory estimated on Sept. 19 that based on the flow’s location and rate of advancement at that time, lava from Kīlauea Volcano’s Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent could reach Highway 130 in 21 days – but noted as of Sept. 22, the lava flow advance rate has slowed.

The route, mostly within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, would provide emergency access for the community and would not be open for visitor use. Nearly eight miles of the coastal section of Chain of Craters Road is buried beneath rough, hardened lava, and 5.4 miles is within the national park.

The open section of Chain of Craters Road spans 19 miles from the summit of Kīlauea to sea level within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park. Opened in 1965, the road has been blocked by lava for 37 of its 49-year existence.

To protect park resources, the emergency route will follow the old lava-covered road alignment as much as practicable.

“The NPS is deeply concerned about this potential disaster to our community, our friends, families, employees and volunteers,” said Orlando. “We have been working diligently with our partners to find an acceptable solution in accordance with federal law,” she said.

Governor Signs Supplemental Emergency Proclamation in Preparation of Lava Flow Crossing Highway 130

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed a supplemental emergency proclamation to include the repair, restorations, rebuilding, or reestablishment of Chain of Craters Road, for use as an alternate emergency route should the June 27th lava flow cross Highway 130 near Pahoa and isolate communities in lower Puna from the rest of Hawaii County.

“Even though the lava flow appears to have slowed to a halt for the time being, the state and Hawaii County are prepared and moving forward together with contingency plans in the event the lava does progress farther,” Gov. Abercrombie said.

Today’s proclamation, supplemental to the emergency proclamation signed on Sept. 5, also extends the disaster emergency relief period through Dec. 1, 2014.

The original proclamation suspended certain laws as needed for emergency purposes, including state restrictions on reestablishing abandoned roads that may be used should lava cross Highway 130. It also activated the Major Disaster Fund set aside by the state Legislature for disaster relief and facilitates access to emergency resources at the state and federal levels.

Residents are also encouraged to enroll in local notification systems and monitor local radio and television broadcasts.

Federal Aid Programs Announced for Hawaii Residents Affected By Iselle

Following is a summary of key federal disaster aid programs that can be made available as needed and warranted under President Obama’s disaster declaration issued for the State of Hawaii.

Assistance for the State and Affected Local Governments Can Include as Required:

  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for debris removal and emergency protective measures taken to save lives and protect property and public health.  Emergency protective measures assistance is available to state and eligible local governments on a cost-sharing basis. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
  • Payment of not less than 75 percent of the eligible costs for repairing or replacing damaged public facilities, such as roads, bridges, utilities, buildings, schools, recreational areas and similar publicly owned property, as well as certain private non-profit organizations engaged in community service activities. (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)
  • Payment of not more than 75 percent of the approved costs for hazard mitigation projects undertaken by state and local governments to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural or technological disasters.  (Source: FEMA funded, state administered.)

How to Apply for Assistance:

  • Application procedures for state and local governments will be explained at a series of federal/state applicant briefings with locations to be announced in the affected area by recovery officials. Approved public repair projects are paid through the state from funding provided by FEMA and other participating federal agencies.

FEMA Statement on Federal Aid for State of Hawaii After Tropical Storm Iselle

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Federal Emergency Management Agency announced that federal disaster aid has been made available to the State of Hawaii to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by Tropical Storm Iselle during the period of August 7-9, 2014.

The President’s action makes federal funding available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by Tropical Storm Iselle in Hawaii and Maui counties.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

Kenneth K. Suiso has been named as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.  Suiso said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

New USGS Maps Released – Where the Lava Flow is Now

This small-scale map shows the June 27th flow in Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone on September 12, 2014.

The area of the flow on September 10, 2014, at 2:45 PM is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow as mapped on September 12 at 12:30 PM is shown in red. The front of the active flow was 14.9 km (9.3 miles; straight-line distance) from the vent and 0.17 km (0.1 miles) from the east boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve. The actual length of the flow, measured along the lava tube axis (so that bends in the flow are considered) is 17.1 km (10.6 miles). The flow was advancing toward the northeast. The blue lines show down-slope paths calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model (DEM). For an explanation of down-slope path calculations, see: http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/. All older Puʻu ʻŌʻō lava flows (1983–2014) are shown in gray. Down-slope path analysis is based on the assumption that the digital elevation model (DEM) perfectly represents the earth’s surface. But, DEMs are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map indicate approximate flow path directions. The purple arrow shows a short term projection of flow direction based on the flow behavior over the past several days and the local topography. (see large map)

Large-scale map of Kīlauea’s ERZ flow field

This large-scale map shows the distal part of the June 27th flow in relation to nearby Puna communities. The black dots mark the flow front on specific dates. The latitude and longitude of the flow front on September 12 was 19.46388/-154.98343 (Decimal degrees; WGS84). The blue lines show down-slope paths calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model (DEM; for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/). Down-slope path analysis is based on the assumption that the digital elevation model (DEM) perfectly represents the earth’s surface. But, DEMs are not perfect, so the blue lines on this map indicate approximate flow path directions. The purple arrow shows a short term projection of flow direction based on the flow behavior over the past several days and the local topography. (see large map)

Shaded-relief map of East Rift Zone near flow front

This shaded-relief map, with digital surface data provided by the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, shows some of the cracks, faults, and grabens (down-dropped blocks between adjacent faults; http://earthquake.usgs.gov/learn/glossary/?term=graben) that are present in Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone, and which have partly controlled the June 27th flow’s advance direction. The June 27th flow as of September 10, 2014, at 2:45 PM is shown in pink, while flow advance since then (as of ~12:30 PM on September 12) is shown in red. At the time of the mapping, the flow was advancing toward the northeast. (see large map)

Lava Flow Moving to the Northeast

June 27 flow moving to the northeast

As of Friday afternoon, September 12, 2014, the most distal front of the June 27th lava flow had reached a straight-line distance of 14.9 km (9.3 miles) from the source vent on the northeast flank of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō cone. The flow has continued in the northeast direction that it assumed in the middle of the week and is now only 171 meters (0.1 miles) from the boundary of the Kaohe Homesteads community. The flow is still within thick forest, so that dense plumes of smoke are created as vegetation is consumed. Small breakouts (visible as plumes in the middle distance) are also active closer to Puʻu ʻŌʻō, roughly midway along the length of the June 27th flow.

View looking northeast along the terminus of the July 27th flow. Kaohe Homesteads is to the right, and Pāhoa town is in the middle center. The active flow is in the middle left.
 View from above the middle part of the June 27th flow looking south at a small breakout that is burning forest along the previously existing flow margin. Heiheiahulu cone is in the upper left.

This Quicktime movie provides an aerial view of the flow front and its position relative to Kaohe Homesteads.

The photo on the left is compared here to a thermal image on the right, which provides a clear view of the flow front of the June 27th flow through the thick smoke. The vent for the June 27th flow is on Puʻu ʻŌʻō, which can be seen at the top of the normal photograph. After pouring in and out of ground cracks in late August, the flow finally emerged from the cracks around September 3 and began spilling out towards the north. The northwest portion of Kaohe Homesteads subdivision can be seen in the lower left of the images.

Lava Flow Estimated to Cross Highway 130 in Two Weeks

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs and Department of Land and Natural Resources announce the immediate closure of Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve, until further notice, due to the hazards associated with the June 27 lava flow. Wao Kele o Puna is owned by OHA and managed by DLNR.

I would hardly call it a crime scene!

I would hardly call it a crime scene!

Kamana‘opono Crabbe, Ka Pouhana, OHA (Chief Executive Officer) said, “It is prudent at this time to close Wao Kele o Puna due to lava activity and subsequent unsafe conditions.

William J. Aila, Jr., DLNR Chairperson said, “We join with Hawaii Civil Defense and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to warn the public of extreme danger from lava flowing through cracks in Wao Kele O Puna, and Kahauale’a Natural Area Reserve. Both areas are off-limits to all persons. We will prosecute anyone entering these areas for any purpose, including unauthorized lava sightseeing tours. Hikers have been lost or injured in these areas, and personnel called in to rescue them have also been put in danger.”

The Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DOFAW) will be assisting Hawaii County to build the alternate roads in Puna.

Lava is estimated to cross Highway 130 in approximately two weeks if it stays on its current path.

DOFAW will provide a D8 bulldozer and equipment operator to Nanawale/Railroad Ave. tomorrow and expect work will take several weeks. Portions of the old railroad right-of-way run through state forest and unencumbered lands. Railroad Ave. bisects Nanawale state Forest Reserve

President Obama Issues Major Disaster Declaration for Hawaii and Maui Counties

Today, President Obama issued a major disaster declaration for the State of Hawai‘i activating the release of federal funds to help communities recover from Tropical Storm Iselle that occurred from August 7-9, 2014.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

People waited for hours just for basic supplies during Iselle.

“This is great news for the thousands of people in Puna who were affected by Iselle,” Senator Schatz said.  “This federal assistance is critical to supporting our communities’ ongoing recovery. I thank President Obama for recognizing the critical needs of the many families still rebuilding in Puna.”

“I thank President Obama for issuing a major disaster declaration for the State of Hawai‘i,” said Senator Hirono. “Families and the community continue to rebuild after Tropical Storm Iselle hit over a month ago and much of the damage to our farms and homes will take many years to rebuild.  Similar to how our communities came together during the disaster, we’ll continue to come together during recovery. I look forward to the ongoing work with my colleagues in our joint effort to help ensure people get the resources they need to rebuild.”

All areas in the State of Hawai‘i are eligible to apply for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Civil Defense Update on Eruption and Lava Flow

This is a civil defense message.

Civildefense

This is an Eruption and Lava Flow Information Update for Wednesday September 10th at 8:15 AM.

This morning’s assessment shows the surface lava flow continues and is moving in a north/northeast direction.  There is no wildfire threat at this time.  Weather and fire conditions are being monitored closely.  Due to a light inversion this morning smoke conditions in the area were moderate.

Photo of the flow from the top of my Mattson container at 8:45 this morning.

Photo of the flow from the top of my Mattson container at 8:45 this morning.

The surface flow has advanced approximately 250 yards since yesterday.  The surface flow is moving slowly and does not pose an immediate threat to area residents.  The surface flow is located approximately .6 miles southwest or upslope of the Wao Kele Puna Forest Reserve boundary and moving in a north/northeast direction and parallel to the forest reserve boundary.

Presently, the current activities and flow does not present with an immediate or imminent threat to area communities.  No evacuation is required at this time.  Eruption activity will continue to be monitored and additional updates will be provided.

Although the current flow activity does not pose an immediate threat to area communities, residents are encouraged to continue to review their emergency plans in the event conditions change and should an evacuation be necessary.

The public is reminded that the flow cannot be accessed and is not visible from any public areas.  Access to the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision will be restricted and limited to subdivision residents only.

TONIGHT – Hawaii County Civil Defense Meeting on Eruption and Lava Flow

Civildefense
Hawai’i County Civil Defense and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will hold additional community meetings TONIGHT and Thursday, Sept. 11 to update residents on the lava flow in the Wao Kele O Puna area.

The briefings will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the Pahoa High School Cafeteria.

Lava Could Hit Government Road in Pahoa in 16-18 Days

On June 27, 2014, new vents opened on the northeast flank of the Pu‘u ‘O‘o cone that fed a narrow lava flow to the east-northeast. On August 18, the flow entered a ground crack, traveled underground for several days, then resurfaced to form a small lava pad.

close up lava map

The sequence was repeated three more times over the following days with lava entering and filling other cracks before reappearing at the surface, in two of the cases farther downslope. Lava emerged from the last crack on September 6 and moved as a surface flow to the north. Between September 6 and 8, the flow advanced northward at a rate of 400 m/d (1,300 ft/d).

In this way, the flow had advanced approximately 13.7 km (8.5 miles straight-line distance) from the vent, or to within 1.2 km (0.7 miles) of the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve, by the afternoon of September 8. At the average rate of advancement of 400 m/day (1,300 ft/day) since September 6, we project that lava could flow from its current location either through the north part of Kaohe Homesteads, or to the north of Kaohe Homesteads, and reach the government road in Pāhoa within 16-18 days if lava is not further confined within the cracks and down-dropped blocks within the East Rift Zone of Kīlauea volcano. These estimates will be continually refined as we track this lava flow.

Kaohe Homesteads is located between the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve and the town of Pāhoa in the Puna District of the County of Hawai`i.

Governor Signs Emergency Proclamation in Anticipation of Lava Flow Crossing Highway 130

Gov. Neil Abercrombie today signed an emergency proclamation in preparation for the June 27 lava flow crossing Highway 130 near Pahoa, potentially isolating communities in lower Puna from the rest of Hawaii County.

abercrombieheaderThe proclamation suspends certain laws as needed for emergency purposes, including state restrictions on reestablishing abandoned roads that may be used should lava cross Highway 130. It also activates the Major Disaster Fund set aside by the state Legislature for disaster relief and facilitates access to emergency resources at the state and federal levels.

“State agencies are working with the County of Hawaii to provide alternative access to lower Puna if lava crosses the main highway,” said Gov. Abercrombie. “This proclamation will ensure that isolated communities receive a continuation of services.

“Health officials are also advising all residents living near the lava flow to plan ahead for potential smoke from burning vegetation and low levels of sulfur dioxide. Conditions for nearby communities may vary widely due to the unpredictability of wind and weather.”

The disaster emergency relief period specified in the proclamation begins today and continues through Oct. 15, 2014.

Residents are also encouraged to enroll in local notification systems and monitor local radio and television broadcasts.

Commentary – Central Federal Lands Highway Division’s Lack of Transparency

The Central Federal Lands Highway Division has partnered with the Hawaii Department of Transportation to do improvements to eleven bridges statewide, along with three upcoming Daniel K. Inouye Highway phases (SR200(3),  Daniel K. Inouye Highway Extension and west side Daniel K. Inouye Highway runaway escape ramps).

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.

This CFLHD/HDOT partnership has already resulted in much-needed improvements to 40.27 out of 45.97 miles to the Daniel K. Inouye Highway. This is something everyone involved can be proud of. However, the HDOT and CFLHD need to do a better job engaging the public. These
agencies have done a poor job thus far. I had to get updates through the project engineer between 2004-2011 because the CFLHD’s Daniel K. Inouye Highway project website was never updated.

Dave Gedeon, the said project engineer up until late 2011, then passed me off to Mike Will. He and Mark Lloyd provided updates up until mid-2013. Then he stated I had to go through the Hawaii Department of Transportation public affairs office for any additional updates. I had to go through other sources since then, as its nearly impossible to get any response from the HDOT public affairs office.

I escalated my complaints to Anthony Foxx, the Secretary of Transportation and Gregory Nadeau, the acting FHWA administrator, recently. Mr. Nadeau reiterated that I should go through the HDOT public affairs office and told me the CFLHD’s Daniel K. Inouye Highway website would be updated on a regular basis.

I highly doubt the CFLHD or HDOT will follow through on Mr. Nadeau’s promises, which is why I am writing this commentary. The CFLHD and HDOT need to do a better job engaging the public’s participation in these projects.

Aaron Stene
Kailua-Kona

Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia Arrive in Apia, Samoa – Sail with United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and President of Palau, Tommy E. Remengesau Jr., sailed aboard Hōkūleʻa and Hikianalia in Apia Harbor, Sāmoa today. They joined Worldwide Voyage crew and specialists such as Sylvia Earle of Mission Blue, artist Wyland, Blue Planet founder Henk Rogers, and Greg Stone of Conservation International.

Hokulea Samoa 3 “Hōkūle’a, our voyaging canoe, threads together stories of hope as she voyages across the world’s oceans.  We are inspired that His Excellency Ban Ki-moon and island leaders are coming together on Hōkūle’a’s deck around shared values of preserving and protecting our oceans,” said Nainoa Thompson, president and master navigator of the Polynesian Voyaging Society.

His Excellency Ban Ki-moon presented Thompson and the crew of the Worldwide Voyage with a handwritten message in a bottle that he asked them to carry with them as they circle the globe.  The message stated, “I am honored to be a part of Hōkūle’a’s Worldwide Voyage.  I am inspired by its global mission. As you tour the globe, I will work and rally more leaders to our common cause of ushering in a more sustainable future, and a life of dignity for all.”

Today’s sail represents the theme of the Worldwide Voyage, Mālama Honua, or “Care for Our Island Earth.” The ongoing United Nations Small Island Developing States conference focuses on island nations that are particularly vulnerable to climate change and the challenges that face our oceans.

“People often say we are in the same boat,” Ban Ki-moon said during the conference,” I would say we are all on the same small island on the same small planet Earth; this is like a small boat in the universe.”

Hokulea Samoa 2

On the same afternoon of the UN Secretary General sail, Polynesian Voyaging Society leaders at home in Hawaiʻi took part in a Pillars of Peace dialogue about climate change hosted by the Hawaiʻi Community Foundation. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, a panelist at the event and a former guest aboard Hōkūle’a, emphasized to participants, “We have just one planet home.  This is an issue of whether we want to survive as a species or not.”

“Hōkūle’a and Hikianalia are sharing an uplifting message as they circumnavigate the globe about the need to care for each other, our oceans, and earth at a critical time in history,” said Polynesian Voyaging Society Chairman, Neil Hannahs.  “Our dedicated crew at sea and on land believes that the sustainable practices refined by many island cultures promote a thriving existence, prudent management of finite resources, and intergenerational equity.”

Hokulea Samoa

After the Samoa conference, Hōkūle’a and her sister canoe Hikianalia continue their sail across Earth’s oceans to grow the global movement toward a more sustainable world. The Worldwide Voyage, sponsored by Hawaiian Airlines, will cover 47,000 nautical miles, 85 ports and 26 countries, including 12 of UNESCO’s Marine World Heritage sites, through June 2017.

Repairs To Begin At Keauhou Small Boat Harbor On Remaining Tsunami Damage

The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) on Wednesday, Sept. 3, will begin construction at Keauhou Small Boat Harbor on repairs to the last remaining areas damaged by the 2011 Japan tsunami.

Kailua-Kona-Pier-Repair

Construction is scheduled through Jan. 7, 2015.Project contractor is Drayko Construction, Inc. The total cost of this project is $428,000.

Below are the proposed dates and affected areas of the harbor. Dates are subject to change due to weather or other factors.

Boat Launch Ramp and Wash Down Area work to be done:

Sept. 3 –Oct. 31, 2014: Contractor to remove existing asphalt pavement/install new concrete pavement and drainage improvements on mauka side of boat launch ramp and wash down area. During this time the trailer parking next to the boat ramp and the boat wash down area will be closed. Both lanes of the boat ramp will remain open.

Oct. 6 –Dec. 3, 2014: Repairs to the rock revetment, loading dock, fenders and cleats on the left hand side of the boat ramp; and removal of existing asphalt paving and installation of new concrete pavement fronting the left hand side of the boat ramp. The left hand lane of the boat ramp will be closed. The right hand lane of the boat ramp will remain open.

Dec. 4, 2014 –Jan. 2, 2015: Removal of existing asphalt paving and installation of new concrete pavement fronting right hand side of boat ramp. The right hand side of the boat ramp will be closed. The left hand lane of the boat ramp will remain open.

Mauka Parking Area / Bulkhead:

Nov. 12-19, 2014: Removal and replacement of existing asphalt paving on mauka parking area/bulkhead (where Fairwinds, etc. load/unload passengers). Vessels may use the loading pier to load/unload passengers during this time.

Nov. 24-25, 2014: Striping at the mauka parking area/bulkhead. Vessels may use the loading pier to load/unload passengers, etc. during this time.

Video – Hurricane Iselle Damage & Recovery in Puna, Hawaii

Two weeks ago, Hurricane Iselle devastated Puna on the Big Island of Hawaii on August 7, 2014.

Fragile invasive albizia trees shattered, downing utility lines and blocking major roads.

Falling Branches

The storm surge at Kapoho flooded and demolished homes. The community immediately started to pitch in with food, water, and ice. The government efficiently organized resources, and cleared roads and beach parks and HELCO is working overtime to get electricity back to folks systematically.

Much mahalos to everyone for your aloha spirit during this challenging time. Imua!

Pahoa Roundabout Contract Awarded – Pre-Construction On Schedule To Begin In September

The state Department of Transportation (HDOT) advises motorists well in advance of an upcoming detour as it plans for construction of the new Pahoa Roundabout on Hawaii Island. Beginning in mid- to late September the HDOT anticipates construction signage will begin to go up and construction preparation work will begin as the contractor prepares a temporary detour route.

pahoa round

The detour is anticipated to be put in place in mid- to late October, closing the Pahoa Bypass and diverting traffic onto Pahoa Village Road and Kahakai Boulevard.

Detour conditions will be as follows:

  • Complete closure of Pahoa Bypass Road from Pahoa Village Road to Kahakai Boulevard
  • 24-hour detour onto Pahoa Village Road and Kahakai Boulevard
  • Temporary traffic signal at the intersection of Pahoa Village Road and Kahakai Boulevard
  • Detour speed limit of 25 mph
  • Left turn pocket lane created for Pahoa Marketplace

The $4.8 million project awarded to Isemoto Contracting Co. Ltd, in June of 2014, is expected to begin pre-construction activities in September with completion in summer of 2015. The purpose of this project is to provide a safe, efficient, and accessible facility for all users including motorists, pedestrians, cyclists. The project was needed to address safety and traffic congestion as well as address future increases in traffic volumes.

The HDOT is working to schedule a public meeting prior to opening the upcoming detour. The meeting is tentatively scheduled for early October. Please stay tuned as more information on the meeting will be forthcoming as the date, time and location are finalized.

 

HELCO Power Restoration Update – 1,200 Remain Without Power

Hawaii Electric Light continues to restore electric service to customers who lost power as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle. Service to an additional 300 customers was restored Monday. Currently, an estimated 1200 customers remain without power.

Significant progress has been made in Hawaiian Beaches and Hawaiian Paradise Park. Pockets of customers within these areas may still be out of power. Customers in those areas who are still without power should report it by calling 969-6666.

Areas of work

Today, electrical line crews are focused on the following areas:

  • Nanawale Estates – electrical line crews are working on power lines throughout the subdivision. Work also continues on digging holes to replace utility poles damaged by falling trees.
  • Lanipuna Gardens – electrical line crews are working on repairs on the main line providing service to the subdivision, as well as side streets.
  • Leilani Estates – electrical line crews are working on Kahukai Street and side streets, which suffered extensive damage from fallen trees.
  • Kapoho – electrical line crews are working on lines that provide service to Vacationland and Kapoho Beach Lots.

“We appreciate our customers’ patience as we make progress. In some neighborhoods, although main power lines have been restored, individual outages may need to be addressed home by home,” said Darren Pai, Hawaii Electric Light spokesman.

Restoration progress may also be impacted by access due to storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Even if customers don’t see crews in their area, we want customers to know that work is being done to restore power to their communities. In many cases, additional work on the electric system is needed in other locations to restore service.

Although crews are making progress and restoration in many areas may be much faster, estimates indicate it could approximately another two weeks – and in some cases, even longer – to restore power to the areas with the most significant damage. Actual restoration times for each location will depend on the extent of the damage.

Customer Information Center in Puna

Hawaii Electric Light’s Customer Information Center was relocated on Aug. 16 to Leilani Estates Community Center at 13-3441 Moku Street in lower Puna, and will remain open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. – and longer if needed – as the restoration process continues. The center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches is closed.

Company representatives are on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage. A charging station also will be available at the center. Customers may bring their electronic devices to the center and get them charged there.

Restoring PowerBackground on restoration process

The process for restoring service involves many steps that need to be coordinated to ensure public and utility workers’ safety. We also must ensure we deploy the right resources to ensure crews can restore power as quickly as possible. Here’s an overview of the restoration process:

  • Assess damage: Damage assessments by field crews identify the extent of damage and the specific materials – including poles, transformers, and power lines – that need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Clear trees and debris/dig holes: Contracted tree trimming and construction crews then need to clear fallen trees and debris and dig holes for utility poles
  • Install poles, restring lines, and install transformers: Electrical line crews can then be deployed to begin installing the poles, framing the cross arms on the poles, restringing lines, and installing transformers and other equipment.
  • Repair main line first before energizing: Work is first done on the main lines serving subdivisions to restore the connection into those neighborhoods. Side streets can then be restored. Even after power is restored to a neighborhood, there may still be damage at individual homes or pockets of homes within a neighborhood that will need to be addressed separately.