Kenoi declares state of emergency as lava continues to advance


Mayor Billy Kenoi signed an emergency proclamation Thursday in response to a lava flow advancing within a mile of Kaohe Homesteads.

The flow is estimated to reach Kaohe, a neighborhood of roughly 40 homes southwest of Pahoa, in five to seven days based on its current average advancement rate of 820 feet per day, according to Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. The flow was about 0.8 miles from Kaohe Thursday and HVO upgraded the flow’s threat level from a watch to a warning.

“We are taking this step to ensure our residents have time to prepare their families, their pets, and their livestock for a safe and orderly evacuation from Kaohe in the event the flow continues to advance,” Kenoi said in a statement.

Hawaii County Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira said the declaration allows the county to restrict access in Kaohe to residents and property owners only. No evacuation has been ordered at this time, but Oliveira is urging residents to finish their evacuation plans and monitor county updates closely in the next few days.

Civil Defense employees are continuing to visit homes in Kaohe to explain the situation to residents, and help them prepare, the county said.

“Only residents will be allowed on the subdivision roads starting (Thursday), and we ask that non-residents stay away from the area,” Oliveira said in the statement. “The lava cannot be seen from the subdivision, and there is no reason for non-residents to be in the Kaohe subdivision at this time. This is a difficult and stressful time for Kaohe residents, and we ask that everyone show respect and understanding for our Kaohe neighbors.”

Civil Defense and HVO hosted another meeting Thursday night in Pahoa to discuss the flow with residents.