By David E. Hubler
Contributor, EDM Digest
Officials in Hawaii now put the latest estimate of property losses from the Kilauea volcano eruptions at more than 600 homes destroyed. That number far surpasses the 215 structures that were consumed by lava during a 30-year eruption cycle that began in 1983, Reuters reported Friday.
According to Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, it’s the “most destructive eruption in modern times.” Kim added that Kilauea has never before destroyed so many homes in such a short period of time.
Kilauea Is Most Destructive Eruption in US since Mt. St. Helens
Geologist Scott Rowland, a volcano specialist from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, said, “The Kilauea eruption is the most destructive in the United States since at least the cataclysmic 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens in Washington state.” Hundreds of square miles were reduced to wasteland from that eruption.
The latest damage appraisal from Kilauea came moments after Hawaii Governor David Ige signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will provide $12 million in immediate state disaster relief to the Big Island. The money will help pay for overtime, food and equipment, Ige said, because county employees have been working around the clock for almost 40 days, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser explained.
The federal agencies that signed the MOU are:
- S. Department of Homeland Security
- Federal Emergency Management Agency
- S. Department of the Interior’s National Park Service
- S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration.
Ige and Kim also announced the formation of “a task force of federal, state and local officials to devise a recovery plan for communities devastated by the eruption, with an eye toward preventing such major property losses in the future,” Reuters added.
Vacationland Is Completely Gone as the Result of Kilauea Eruptions
Mayor Kim said Vacationland, a private development of about 160 homes, is completely gone. In addition, lava destroyed at least 330 houses at Kapoho Beach Lots.
The rest of the losses are in the Leilani Estates area. The amount of destruction has been steadily increasing daily.
A mandatory evacuation order remains in effect for Leilani Estates, Pomaikai Street and to the east. However, Hawaii County Civil Defense on Thursday lifted the curfew west of Pomaikai. Access is being limited to residents with credentials only, the Star-Advertiser said.