Hawaii Eying Evacuation Plan for Mauna Loa Volcano – Honolulu, Hawaii

Honolulu, Hawaii 2021-06-08 05:31:21 –

Hawaii is preparing an emergency evacuation plan for the Big Island of Hawaii in preparation for the next eruption of the largest active volcano on the planet.

A state Senate resolution adopted in March called on the state’s emergency management department to develop an evacuation plan for the collision zone around Mauna Loa, Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported Monday.

This includes most of the Big Island with several active volcanoes, including Kilauea, which erupted in 2018 and lost thousands of inhabitants.

The resolution is not legally binding, but lawmakers hope that the completed plan will be codified next year. Senator Dru Kanuha of Kona, who submitted the resolution, said he would follow up with the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency throughout the year.

Kanuha said there were no codified evacuation plans at the time of the 2018 eruption of Kilauea volcano.

“There is currently no master plan for this type of disaster,” Kanuha said.

Volcanic officials say there is no imminent threat to the Mauna Loa eruption. In the USGS Volcano Alert Level system, Mauna Loa is listed under the second lowest “advice” status of the four levels.

Senator Joy San Buenaventura, who co-submitted the resolution with Kanuha, said the response to the 2018 Kilauea volcanic eruption highlighted the need for planning.

“They were always planning at the last minute as the eruption continued,” said San Buenaventura. “Therefore, on a personal level, I feel the need for a master plan, especially when (the eruption) grows.”

Kanuha said he was concerned about the areas of South Kona and Kau, where the steep slopes of Mauna Loa could lead to rapid lava flows, creating “precious time” to evacuate residents and visitors.

The Mauna Loa eruption extends to many parts of the Big Island, including the island’s most populous Hilo.

Kanuha said the evacuation plan would be presented to the state before the 2022 parliament began.

Mauna Loa last erupted in 1984. US Geological Survey officials have been reporting changes in volcanic seismic activity over the years. The summit has been swelling since 2014, and this year there are more earthquakes below the western slopes of the volcano.

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