Big Island Police Investigating Officer-Involved Shooting in Puna

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating an officer-involved shooting in the Puna District on Tuesday.
HPDBadgeAt approximately 2:00 p.m., Puna Patrol officers, who were on Route 11 attending to an unrelated incident, attempted to stop a stolen vehicle traveling south on Route 11, just south of the Kulani Road intersection in Mt. View. The vehicle sped toward the officers in a threatening manner. In response, an officer fired one shot toward the vehicle which continued southbound on Route 11 toward the Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park.

Police are seeking the public’s assistance in locating the stolen vehicle described as a 1989 black Nissan hard body single-cab pickup, License Plate No. ZBC-027. The vehicle is slightly lifted with over-sized tires and has a mesh type tailgate and a red, yellow, and green sticker on the driver’s side rear window.

Police ask anyone who has any information on the location of this vehicle or the identity of the suspects to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the island-wide CrimeStoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. CrimeStoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. CrimeStoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All CrimeStoppers information is kept confidential.

As is standard practice in any officer-involved shooting, the Police Department’s Area I Criminal Investigation Section will conduct a criminal investigation into the shooting and the Office of Professional Standards will conduct an administrative investigation.

New Map Puts Pahoa Marketplace in Lava Flow Path

USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory (HVO) scientists conducted an overflight at midday on Monday, mapping and observing the entire length of the June 27th lava flow field.

The breakouts that began about two weeks ago near the area of ground cracks continued to advance downslope over the past week, creating a new lobe on the June 27th lava flow. This lobe is a short distance west of the earlier portion of the June 27th flow that reached Pāhoa. The new lobe advanced about 2.8 km (1.7 miles) over the past week, which is equivalent to about 400 meters per day (0.25 miles per day). A narrow lava channel was active this morning at the leading tip of the new lobe. The leading tip of this active lobe was 4.6 km (2.9 miles) upslope from the intersection of Highway 130 and Pāhoa Village Road (the intersection by Pahoa Marketplace).

The breakouts that began about two weeks ago near the area of ground cracks continued to advance downslope over the past week, creating a new lobe on the June 27th lava flow. This lobe is a short distance west of the earlier portion of the June 27th flow that reached Pāhoa. The new lobe advanced about 2.8 km (1.7 miles) over the past week, which is equivalent to about 400 meters per day (0.25 miles per day). A narrow lava channel was active this morning at the leading tip of the new lobe. The leading tip of this active lobe was 4.6 km (2.9 miles) upslope from the intersection of Highway 130 and Pāhoa Village Road (the intersection by Pahoa Marketplace).

Since the last overflight on November 24, a narrow finger has broken away from the west edge of the flow field and moved to the north by about 2.8 km (1.7 mi), which is an average advance rate of 400 meters/day (440 yards/day). The finger branches off at a point downslope of the crack system where the older flow makes a bend from the north to the northeast. Along its length, the width of the active finger varies from 30 meters (33 yards) to 180 meters (200 yards). The total length of the flow, between Puʻu ʻŌʻō and the front of the new finger, is 18.3 km (11.4 mi) as measured along the flow axis.

A closer look at the narrow lava channel near the leading tip of the active lobe. The channel consists of both open sections as well as sections that are crusted over.

A closer look at the narrow lava channel near the leading tip of the active lobe. The channel consists of both open sections as well as sections that are crusted over.

The new finger is following a different steepest-descent path than the previously active flow lobe. The new forecast path takes the flow towards the intersection of Pāhoa Village Road and Highway 130, in the vicinity of the Pahoa Marketplace. The flow is currently about 4.6 km (2.9 miles) upslope of the intersection as measured along a straight line. The flow is approaching an area of gentler topography, however, where two steepest-descent paths nearly converge. The ultimate flow path is therefore difficult to forecast while the activity remains upslope of this point.

This map uses a satellite image acquired in March 2014 (provided by Digital Globe) as a base to show the area around the front of the June 27th lava flow. The area of the flow on November 24, 2014, at 12:00 PM is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow as mapped on December 1 at 11:30 AM is shown in red. Most surface flow activity is focused into a narrow finger that branches off the west edge of the flow field north of the East Rift Zone crack system. The front of this finger (19.475836, -154.986834 Decimal Degrees) was 4.6 km (2.9 mi) upslope from the intersection of Highway 130 and Pāhoa Village Road at the Pahoa Marketplace. The dotted blue lines show the pertinent steepest-descent paths, calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model (DEM; for calculation details, see http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2007/1264/), that the flow is projected to follow. Note that about 1 km (0.6 mi) downslope from the tip of the active flow two different steepest-descent paths come very close together. This is a location where the ground becomes very flat, and the flow could end up following either (or both) of these paths. Steepest-descent path analysis is based on the assumption that the DEM perfectly represents the earth's surface. DEMs, however, are not perfect, so the dotted blue line can be used to infer only an approximate flow path.  (Click to Enlarge)

The area of the flow on November 24, 2014, at 12:00 PM is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow as mapped on December 1 at 11:30 AM is shown in red.
Most surface flow activity is focused into a narrow finger that branches off the west edge of the flow field north of the East Rift Zone crack system. The front of this finger was 4.6 km (2.9 mi) upslope from the intersection of Highway 130 and Pāhoa Village Road at the Pahoa Marketplace. (Click to Enlarge)

During the overflight, HVO scientists were also able to measure the cross-sectional area of the lava stream within the tube near Puʻu ʻŌʻō. Their result of 2.0 square meters (2.4 square yards) is a 25% reduction in area compared to last week. A smaller lava-stream cross section is consistent with less lava flowing through the tube due to the current summit deflation, which has been ongoing since Saturday morning.

Based on the gentler topography that the flow is approaching and the decrease in cross-sectional area of the lava stream within the tube, it is likely that the advance rate of the narrow finger will slow in the coming days.

A comparison of a normal photograph with a thermal image of the narrow channel at the leading tip of the new lobe on the June 27th lava flow. The normal photograph is partially obscured by smoke from vegetation burning, but the thermal image can "see" through the smoke to show the nature of the channel in detail. Some sections of the channel are completely covered by crust (forming a lava tube), while other sections were open with a smoothly flowing surface.

A comparison of a normal photograph with a thermal image of the narrow channel at the leading tip of the new lobe on the June 27th lava flow. The normal photograph is partially obscured by smoke from vegetation burning, but the thermal image can “see” through the smoke to show the nature of the channel in detail. Some sections of the channel are completely covered by crust (forming a lava tube), while other sections were open with a smoothly flowing surface.

In addition to the narrow finger, weak activity is also present in three areas upslope: 1) surface lava was active where the new finger branches off from the existing flow field; 2) minor surface flows were extending the flow margin to the east at the eastern edge of the crack system; and 3) about 3.5 km (2.2 mi) downslope from Puʻu ʻŌʻō, small amounts of surface lava marked the continued activity of the breakout that started near the Kahaualeʻa cone about two weeks ago. Observations of the stalled flow that extends from the crack system into Pāhoa Village indicate that the lava tube is not being reoccupied, and that this lobe of the flow is effectively inactive.

Daily updates about Kilauea’s ongoing eruptions, recent images and videos of summit and East Rift Zone volcanic activity, and data about recent earthquakes are posted on the HVO Web site at http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov.

New Breakout in Lava Flow to be Monitored Closely

This is an eruption and lava flow Information update for Friday, October 31 at 2:00PM.

distances

The flow continues to remain active however has not advanced since yesterday. The flow front remains 480 feet from Pāhoa Village Road. The front continues to show signs of widening with breakouts along the flanks or margins and is approximately 60 yards wide. A new breakout located upslope from the flow front on the north side is active and advancing in a northeast direction and will be monitored closely.  Additional breakouts above the Apaʻa street area along the north side of the flow are also being monitored closely.

Smoke conditions continue to be light with trade winds from the northeast pushing the smoke in a south southwest direction. Presently burning activity is involving a variety of materials and smoke conditions may increase in some areas. Residents down wind that may be sensitive or have respiratory problems are advised to take necessary precautions and to remain indoors. Additional health advisories may be issued depending upon materials involved with any fires associated with the lava flow.

Minor breakouts of lava ooze from the margin of the June 27th lava flow on the afternoon of Thursday, October 30, 2014. These breakouts are located about 100 meters (110 yards) behind the leading edge of the flow.

Minor breakouts of lava ooze from the margin of the June 27th lava flow on the afternoon of Thursday, October 30, 2014. These breakouts are located about 100 meters (110 yards) behind the leading edge of the flow.

Based on the current flow location, direction and advancement, residents in the flow path were placed on an evacuation advisory and notified of possible need for evacuation.  The evacuation advisory for those residents down slope of the flow will continue and residents will be kept informed of the flow status and advancement.

The Pahoa Village Road between Apa’a Street and the Post Office Road will remain closed and limited to area residents only. Motorist should use caution and slow down on Highway 130 near the Post Office Road intersection. Residents of the restricted area should not bring unauthorized persons into the restricted area. In addition, Civil Defense and public safety personnel will be operating in the area round the clock to maintain close observations of flow activity. Additional updates will be broadcasted as conditions change.

Lava Flow Bypasses the Pahoa Transfer Station For Now

The June 27 Lava Flow has moved past the Pahoa Transfer Station and is now moving down slope towards Pahoa Village Road.

“This map uses a satellite image acquired in March 2014 (provided by Digital Globe) as a base to show the area around the front of the June 27th lava flow.

Click to Enlarge

Click to Enlarge

The area of the flow on October 25, 2014, at 5:00 PM is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow as mapped on October 26 at 12:30 PM is shown in red. The dotted blue lines show steepest-descent paths in the area, calculated from a 1983 digital elevation model (DEM).”

Another Lava Flow Update This Evening From USGS – Video of Flow

Between September 6 and 10, the June 27th flow advanced north then northeastward at an average rate of 400 m/d (0.25 mi/d).

Click to view movie

This Quicktime movie provides an overview of activity near the front of the June 27th lava flow, and shows the position of the flow front relative to Kaohe Homesteads and Pahoa.

In this way, the flow had advanced approximately 14.5 km (9.0 miles straight-line distance) from the vent, or to within 0.6 km (0.4 miles) of the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve, by the afternoon of September 10. At the average rate of advancement of 400 m/day (0.25 mi/day) since September 6, we project that lava could flow from its current location to the northwest edge of Kaohe Homesteads in 1.5 days and to the Pāhoa Village road (government road) in Pāhoa within 14-16 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.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

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.

Recent Observations: Lava flow turned to the northeast and is advancing at a rate of 400 m/day (0.25 mi/day).

Hazard Analysis: Lava Flow from Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent could reach the northwest edge of Kaohe Homesteads in 1.5 days and the government road in Pāhoa within 14-16 days.

Remarks: The Pu‘u ‘Ō‘ō vent in the East Rift Zone of Kīlauea Volcano began erupting on January 3, 1983, and has continued erupting for more than 31 years, with the majority of lava flows advancing to the south. Over the past two years, lava flows have issued from the vent toward the northeast. The June 27th flow is the most recent of these flows and the first to threaten a residential area since 2010-2011. 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. 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 northeast.

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.

New Lava Flow Map Released

The following map was released tonight at the Hawaii County Civil Defense meeting at Pahoa High School.

I will post the actual link and what is said about this map when USGS updates their links:

Cell phone picture of map from tonight's Civil Defense Meeting.

Cell phone picture of map from tonight’s Civil Defense Meeting.

Lava Flow Emerges From Crack – Continues Advancing East

June 27th lava flow front emerges again from ground crack, continues advancing eastward

Click to enlarge

The June 27th lava flow remains active, with lava at the flow front issuing from a ground crack and advancing through thick forest, creating dense plumes of smoke. The farthest lava this afternoon was 13.2 km (8.2 miles) from the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō, and 1.3 km (0.8 miles) from the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna forest reserve. This forest reserve boundary is at the western boundary of Kaohe Homesteads subdivision, a portion of which is visible at the bottom of the photograph.

This view looks east at the far end of the June 27th lava flow. In the center of the photograph is an isolated pad of lava which came out of ground crack last week. Further movement of lava within ground cracks has enabled the flow front to advance farther east, with lava issuing from a ground crack in the upper left portion of the photograph, where plumes of smoke mark the location of lava burning forest. Click to enlarge

A closer view of the flow front, looking west. It is difficult to see the active lava surface through the thick smoke. Puʻu ʻŌʻō can be seen in the upper left portion of the photograph, partly obscured by smoke.

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

One small portion of the flow front was quite vigorous, with an open stream of lava moving through the forest.

Click to view movie

This Quicktime movie shows activity at the front of the June 27th lava flow. The flow front continues to advance eastward, with lava issuing out of a ground crack and spreading through dense forest, creating thick plumes of smoke. The farthest lava this afternoon was 1.3 km (0.8 miles) from the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna forest reserve.

Big Island Police Investigating Puna Home Invasion Burglary

Hawaiʻi Island police are investigating a home invasion burglary early Sunday (August 31) in Puna.

HPDBadgeIn response to a 3 a.m. report, Puna Patrol officers responded to a home on the 15-1700 block of 25th Avenue in the Hawaiian Paradise Park subdivision. A 66-year-old man reportedly woke up to find two unidentified men in his bedroom. He was punched and threatened with a knife and with additional physical harm.

The victim reported that numerous items were missing from the house, including guitars and electronic equipment. Estimated value of the stolen goods is $2,495.

The suspects were described only as local males with one wearing a mask.

Police ask anyone with any information about this case to call the Police Department’s non-emergency line at 935-3311 or contact Detective Wendall Carter at 961-2378 or wcarter@co.hawaii.hi.us.

Tipsters who prefer to remain anonymous may call the islandwide Crime Stoppers number at 961-8300 and may be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Crime Stoppers is a volunteer program run by ordinary citizens who want to keep their community safe. Crime Stoppers doesn’t record calls or subscribe to caller ID. All Crime Stoppers information is kept confidential.

More Community Meetings Announced to Update Folks on Lava Flows

Civildefense

Hawai’i County Civil Defense and the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory will host additional community meetings on Tuesday, Sept. 2 and Thursday, Sept. 4 to update residents on the lava flow in the Wao Kele O Puna area.

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

New Lava Flow Map Released – Lava Flow Once Again Advancing

Map showing the June 27th flow in Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone as of August 28, 2014:

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

The area of the flow as mapped on August 27 is shown in pink, while widening and advancement of the flow as of August 28 is shown in red. All older lava flows (1983–2014) are shown in gray. The thin yellow line marks a portion of the lava tube feeding the flow.

The only place where lava significantly widened the margin was at the most distant surface breakout, which was 8.6 km (5.3 miles) from the vent. The brown line at the far end of the flow marks the ground crack that channeled lava to the east, where it later emerged to form a new pad of lava.

Yesterday, there was no surface activity there and no indication that lava was continuing to advance within ground cracks. This morning, however, steam was rising above a crack extending east beyond the end of the lava pad, suggesting that lava was once again advancing within a crack below ground.

The most distant steaming area was 11.9 km (7.4 miles) from the vent and 2.6 km (1.6 miles) from east boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna Forest Reserve.

Mayor Kenoi Statement on FEMA Denial of Funds for Iselle Victims

Hawai’i County Mayor Billy Kenoi issued the following statement in response to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s denial of the state’s request for individual assistance:

“We are very disappointed in FEMA’s decision to deny the state’s request for individual assistance for the victims of Tropical Storm Iselle. Our residents and families suffered destroyed homes, property losses and many other impacts from this historic storm. For many people, their lives have still not returned to normal, and the federal government must help our communities. We strongly urge Governor Abercrombie to appeal the FEMA decision directly to President Obama. We hope the president will recognize that the residents of Puna need his help, and deserve all the support and assistance that we can give them.”

Lava Flow Update – Activity at Flow Front “Appears” to Stall But Surface Flows Remain Active

The June 27th flow remains active, but surface flows at the very farthest reaches of the flow appear to have stalled today.

lava flow 827

Click to Enlarge

The lava flow front consisted of an isolated pad of lava that emerged from a deep ground crack several days ago. Today, this pad of lava appeared inactive at the surface, with no sign obvious activity in the adjacent crack. On today’s overflight, the farthest active surface flows were on the main body of the June 27th flow, and were 8.5 km (5.3 miles) from the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō, or about 6 km (3.7 miles) from the eastern boundary of the Wao Kele o Puna forest reserve.

A closer view of the southern lobe of the June 27th lava flow. Smoke plumes originate from active surface breakouts, the farthest today reached 8.5 km (5.3 miles) from the vent on Puʻu ʻŌʻō. The spot at which this lobe plunged into a deep ground crack last week can be seen near the bottom of the photograph. In the upper right portion of the photograph, smoke originating from active breakouts on the northern lobe can be seen.

A comparison of the normal photograph (see above) of the south lobe of the June 27th flow with an equivalent view from the thermal camera. The thermal camera clearly shows the extent of the farthest active breakout, which was relatively small.

Top: Another view of the south lobe of the June 27th flow, which plunged into a deep ground crack last week (this spot is visible at the right side of the photograph). This wide view, looking west, also shows another deep crack nearby, a short distance to the south of the active flows (which are producing the smoke plumes). This immediate area contains many ground cracks, which are part of Kīlauea’s East Rift Zone. Puʻu ʻŌʻō can be seen in the distance.

Bottom: The isolated pad of lava that emerged from the deep ground crack several days ago did not have any active breakouts at the surface today, but incandescent lava could be seen in numerous cracks on the surface. This likely represents lava that had ponded within the flow and remains hot, but immobile.

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.

 

Congresswoman Gabbard Releases Details on Steps to Get Federal Aid for Puna

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) today released details on the next steps that must be taken to quickly and effectively bring federal aid to Puna residents on Hawaiʻi Island whose homes and property were damaged by Hurricane Iselle.

Hayden and Tulsi Squatting

The congresswoman spent Friday with Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials and employees of the Hawaiʻi County Office of Housing visiting people’s homes and meeting with residents, as FEMA assessed the cost of damages and gathered information for a detailed report that will be submitted to Governor Abercrombie. The governor will then be able to request federal aid from President Obama through a disaster declaration.

“I’m urging FEMA, Hawaiʻi County, the governor, and President Obama to expedite the process of declaring Iselle’s devastation a natural disaster so that the people of Puna can receive immediate help,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, whose congressional district includes all of Hawaiʻi Island. “I’ve met with residents who have lost everything, and though they’ve shown strength, resiliency, and compassion for their neighbors, many families in Puna are looking for federal assistance to start putting their lives back together after this overwhelming storm.”

FEMA assessments have been finalized except for a small category to be completed today. Although homes and residential area assessments are complete, the infrastructure damage evaluation will take another two to three more days. The governor and his staff are working through all of the assessment details now and will request federal aid from President Obama when they’re confident they have all of the pertinent data; they expect to have a timeline by this evening.

On Friday, Rep. Gabbard was briefed by Hawaiʻi Army National Guard Colonel Moses Kaoiwi at Keaukaha Military Reserve’s Emergency Operations Center in Hilo. He showed an overview of the damage caused by Hurricane Iselle on Hawaiʻi Island, and they discussed the progress of relief efforts and plans to move forward.

Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard continues to work with federal, state, and county officials to ensure that every available resource is being utilized to expedite recovery efforts and provide the services, supplies, and tools that are needed to guarantee the safety, health, and wellbeing of all those affected by Hurricane Iselle. The Disaster Assistance Recovery Centers (DARC) are still operating and federal, state, and local agencies are there to continue assisting people in need. As of this morning, water service has been restored to all areas of Hawaiʻi Island affected by Iselle, while approximately 1,500 customers are still without electricity.

Senator Schatz to Rejoin Team in Puna to Assist with Iselle Recovery Efforts

Today, U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) announced he will rejoin his team, who have remained on the ground in Puna, on Tuesday to assist with the recovery efforts, specifically focusing on federal funds, the mitigation of albizia trees, and disaster recovery.

Sen. Brian Schatz and Sen. Gil Kahele hep unload ice in Nanawale.

Sen. Brian Schatz and Sen. Gil Kahele help unload ice in Nanawale.

Schatz will meet with state and county officials and continue his collaboration with community members from Puna.

Schatz makes chili and rice bowls for the Puna Community

Schatz makes chili and rice bowls for the Puna Community

“I said on Friday night that my commitment to Puna’s recovery extends beyond any election or any election results, and I meant it,” Senator Schatz said. “This is going to take time and effort, and it won’t be easy, but I will continue to do everything that I can to be helpful.”

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.

SNAP Hurricane Victims Eligible for Money for Food Losses Caused by Hurricane Iselle

Thousands of Hawaii households remain without electricity in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Iselle this past weekend.  Most people affected by power outages reside on the east side of Hawaii Island. Others are scattered across Oahu and Maui County.

Senator Brian Schatz helps make chili and rice bowls at the Hawaiian Beaches Community Center in Puna, Hawaii.

Senator Brian Schatz helps make chili and rice bowls at the Hawaiian Beaches Community Center in Puna, Hawaii.

The Department of Human Services (DHS) reminds beneficiaries of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (formerly known as Food Stamps) that beneficiary households may request reimbursement for the actual dollar value of food destroyed by storm related power outages.  The reimbursement cannot exceed the household’s current monthly allotment (HAR 17-681-31).

To qualify for reimbursement, the affected household must have been participating in the SNAP when the disaster occurred, and report the loss to the DHS Benefit, Employment and Support Services Division (BESSD) within 10 business days of the severe weather event. The deadline to submit reimbursement requests for food spoiled during Tropical Storm Iselle is Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2014.

To be considered for the reimbursement, the affected SNAP household must provide the DHS BESSD a signed statement that includes the following information:

1) Name of the storm and dates of impact;

2) General list of food items lost due to storm related power outage;

3) Length of time household power was out of service;

4) Statement that the household is aware of the penalties for the intentional misrepresentation of the facts; and

5) Statement that the household is aware that SNAP replacement allotment will not be issued if the required statement is not signed and returned within 10 days.

BEFORE MAILING OR DROPPING OFF the reimbursement request, SNAP beneficiaries should contact the BESSD Processing Center that maintains their case file for additional instructions. Individuals who don’t know which Processing Center maintains their file may call (808) 586-5720 to inquire.

An estimated 98,000 households currently receive SNAP benefits statewide.  There are approximately 25,000 SNAP households on Hawaii Island; 5,000 on Kauai; and 12,000 in Maui County.  To learn more about the Hawaii SNAP, visit the DHS website www.humanservices.hawaii.gov/bessd/snap.

HELCO Update on Repairs in Puna After Hurricane Iselle

Crews from Hawaii Electric Light will be joined today by Oahu crews from Hawaiian Electric as work continues on restoring power to customers affected by Tropical Storm Iselle.

Additional field crews are being brought in from the Mainland. Contract construction crews are also supplementing the restoration workforce.

“We understand this is a difficult time for our customers, so we’re essentially tripling our workforce and doing everything we can to restore power as quickly as possible,” said Darren Pai, Hawaii Electric Light spokesman.

Snapped Pole

A snapped pole on Kahakai Drive in Hawaiian Beaches.

Crews have been able to stabilize the island’s transmission system, which serves as the backbone of the electric grid and is essential to maintaining service. Restoration efforts are now focused on neighborhoods that are still without power. Power was restored Sunday night to portions of Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Today, crews expect to make progress in the following areas: Paauilo Mauka, Orchidland, Fern Acres, and Mountain View. Electrical line crews are also working in Ainaloa and Leilani Estates subdivisions. Restoration progress may be impacted by access to due storm debris, fallen trees, or other conditions in the field.

Hawaii Electric Light expects to be able to have crews working tomorrow in Hawaiian Beaches and the remaining portions of Hawaiian Paradise Park.

In many areas, the restoration process involves three significant processes, each requiring different sets of work crews. First, in many cases tree trimming crews must clear away fallen trees and other debris so crews may access the areas. Second, excavation crews must dig new holes so replacement utility poles may be set. Depending on soil and terrain issues, this can be a time consuming process. Finally, electrical line crews will set new poles and repair downed power lines.

Some locations do not require replacement of downed utility poles. In these cases, electrical line crews are working to repair fallen power lines and other repairs needed to restore power. In these cases, restoration is faster than in areas that require pole replacements.

“Our customers will see many different crews and vehicles from different companies working in their neighborhoods. They are all part of our collective effort to restore power,” Pai said.

Customers are reminded not to 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.

Hawai‘i Electric Light also today opened a Customer Information Center at the Hawaiian Shores Community Center in Hawaiian Beaches. Company representatives will be on hand to answer questions from the public and provide the status of repairing the damage caused by Tropical Storm Iselle. Customers may bring their electronic devices and get them charged. A charging station will be available at the center.

The centers will remain open daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. as the restoration process continues.

In addition, Hawaiian Beaches Water Company will be on hand at the Customer Information Center to distribute water for free. Each family may receive up to five gallons of water and must bring their own containers.

HELCO Update – 10% of Big Island Remains Without Electricity

Hawaii Electric Light crews continue to work on restoring power as quickly as possible to customers who lost electricity as a result of Tropical Storm Iselle. About 8,100 customers (approximately 10 percent of total Hawai‘i Island customers) remained without power, mostly in the Puna District but also in smaller pockets on the east side of the island. Power was restored to a portion of Hawaiian Paradise Park late Saturday afternoon.

Photo by Lori Liwai-Kong

Photo by Lori Liwai-Kong

Crews have made significant progress repairing the main transmission lines that serve as the backbone of the island’s electric grid, making the overall system more stable. Now crews can focus their attention on restoring power to individual neighborhoods.

Customers who have not yet reported their outage should call 969-6666 to report it.

Customers who are still without power at this time should expect an extended outage into next week and, in some cases, much longer.

Hawaii Electric Light will continue to prioritize work that will bring service back to the largest number of customers while keeping the grid stable. This systematic approach will help ensure that power will stay on once restored. For example, on Saturday, crews restored power to major roads in Hawaiian Paradise Park. This work brought the power back on for customers on Kaloli, Beach Road, and parts of Paradise Drive. By fixing the lines that bring power into the neighborhood, crews can now focus on individual streets in Hawaiian Paradise Park.

Hawaii Electric Light urges customers to remember downed power lines should be considered dangerous. Do not approach a downed line or attempt to move it. If you see someone injured by a downed line, call 9-1-1 for assistance.

Customers are asked to check that stoves and other appliances are turned off or unplugged to avoid safety hazards or damage to their appliances as power is restored.

Hawaiian Electric and Maui Electric are sending crews, vehicles and other equipment to assist with the restoration. In addition, contracted construction and tree-trimming companies are also participating. Collectively, this will nearly triple the number of crews in the field conducting damage assessment and working to restore power to customers.

All workers participating with the restoration process will be wearing badges identifying them as employees of Hawaii Electric Light, Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric, or an approved utility contractor. Customers should feel free to ask for proper identification if approached by someone who says they are from Hawaii Electric Light or any other organization. Utility company vehicles are clearly marked. Approved contractors have signs for their vehicles indicating they are working on behalf of the company.

Hawai‘i Electric Light’s business offices will reopen for normal business on Monday. Some services, such as new service requests, may be delayed as work crews focus on the restoration effort. Statement from Jay Ignacio, president of Hawai‘i Electric Light:

We understand the frustration of our customers who are still without power and sincerely apologize to them. We understand that customers want estimated restoration times so they can plan. Unfortunately, the extent of damage is worse than anything we’ve ever seen here. We’re working on providing more specific, reliable estimates and hope to do so by tomorrow (Monday) morning. Customers without power should expect to remain without it well into next week, if not longer. Again, we apologize and ask for their continued patience.

“Our first priority was to repair our high–voltage transmission lines. With the backbone of the island’s electric system restored, and our grid more stable, crews can start working on restoring neighborhood circuits for customers who are still without power.”

When Iselle hit Hawai‘i Island, the wind and rain caused trees to topple and fly into power lines, breaking lines and poles. We were in a very precarious situation at the end of last week. As Iselle hit our island, we started losing our transmission lines – the backbone of our electric grid – and came very close to losing the whole island. Of the 35 transmission lines on the island, we lost more than half during the storm. Both the north and south transmission lines were lost as well as the transmission lines serving Puna Geothermal Venture. 

As soon as Iselle passed, crews began working to repair the high voltage transmission lines. Some of these lines could be restored through automatic switching. 

But others, like the line that runs from Papaikou to Kalopa Mauka/Makai, have to be partially rebuilt. Some of the broken poles were on very high embankments. Crews worked around the clock to rebuild this section of the line, only to have another tree fall onto lines in another area. 

The transmission line serving Puna Geothermal Venture goes through a forested area near Nanawale Estates, and our crews cannot reach this line because of the many fallen trees. That area has at least 19 broken poles and will take a very long time to rebuild, starting with bulldozers to clear a path for trucks and crews. We were working on an alternate transmission line in an effort to get PGV back into service, but changed our focus early Sunday to restore customers as soon as we safely can. 

We thank our customers for their efforts to reduce energy use on Friday so we could meet the energy demands of the whole island.”