Maui News

Hawai‘i Delegation Urges Support of Disaster Declaration for Kīlauea Eruptions

May 11, 2018, 7:53 AM HST
* Updated May 11, 7:55 AM
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At 12:20 a.m. HST on Monday, May 7, 2018, fissure 12 (shown here) opened shortly after fissure 11 became inactive. Fissure 12 opened in the forest south of Malama Street in Leilani Estates. As of 6 a.m. on May 11, 2018, there are now 15 fissures, 117 acres covered in lava and 36 structures destroyed. PC: US Geological Survey.

Today, Hawai‘i’s Congressional Delegation urged President Donald Trump to act swiftly on Governor David Ige’s request for a presidential disaster declaration for areas on Hawai‘i Island impacted by the ongoing Kīlauea Volcano eruptions.

US Senator Brian Schatz said the declaration will help ensure that the affected communities can access important federal funding and resources to recover.

“Based on the severity of the damage and preliminary assessments, it is clear that recovery will overwhelm state and county resources,” the delegation wrote in a letter to President Trump. “Governor Ige has requested that you issue a presidential disaster declaration to allow state and county officials to apply for vital federal assistance available. We urge your expeditious approval of his request.”

Since its onset on May 3, 2018, the East Rift Zone eruption has opened 15 fissures, covered 117 acres and has destroyed 36 structures. The U.S. Geological Survey reports that more fissures are possible along Kilauea’s east rift zone, and continued eruptions of lava are likely.

The eruptions are also expelling toxic fumes that authorities say can pose health risks.

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Multiple earthquakes associated with the volcanic activity have also occurred, the largest measuring a magnitude of 6.9.

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The steady lowering of the lava lake at the summit of Kīlauea Volcano poses an added threat for explosive eruptions of rock and ash into the Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park and surrounding communities.

“Farms and endemic native forests are likely to suffer considerable or irreparable damage from the volcanic activity and associated detrimental effects from fumes and acid rain,” the delegation wrote in their letter to the President.

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