Vacationland completely covered by lava

  • This view, looking south at Kilauea's lower East Rift Zone, was captured during HVO's 6 a.m. Wednesday helicopter overflight. It shows continued fountaining of fissure 8 and the lava flow channel fed by it. Lava continues to flow quickly in these braided channels; the flow margins are currently stable and have not experienced any breakouts since June 5. (USGS/Special to West Hawaii Today)
  • Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for Mayor Harry Kim, confirmed Wednesday morning that lava from Kilauea volcano had completely covered the subdivision in Kapoho and at last report, just a small portion of Kapoho Beach Lots remained. USGS
  • A robust laze (lava haze) plume rises from the northern side of the fissure 8 lava flow margins in the former Kapoho Bay. As of 6 a.m. Wednesday this part of the flow front was slowly advancing through the remaining sections of the Kapoho Beach Lots subdivision. (USGS/Special to West Hawaii Today)
  • This fish-eye view of the lava delta filling the former Kapoho Bay on Wednesday shows that while the delta margin nearest the ocean has cooled somewhat, the lava flow front is still very hot and producing laze (lava haze). Laze is a local hazard composed of acidic gases and volcanic glass fragments and should be avoided. (USGS/Special to West Hawaii Today)

HILO — Vacationland is gone.

That was the message Wednesday morning from Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for Mayor Harry Kim. She said that lava from Kilauea volcano had completely covered the subdivision in Kapoho and at last report, just a small portion of Kapoho Beach Lots remained. Lava continues to pour into the ocean, enlarging the delta at the former Kapoho Bay site.

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Snyder said the official tally of homes last is at 130, but noted that does not count the homes lost at Kapoho, since those have to be verified by drone overflight and comparison with tax department maps, and that hundreds more still need to be counted.

Snyder quoted Kim, who had a second home in Vacationland, as saying, “Hundreds of homes and a lifestyle is gone.”

Fissure no. 8 is the only one currently active, but walls of a perched pond from the fissure are expected to break and send more lava oozing toward the ocean.

According to Snyder, a number of drone operators have been cited for violating the temporary flight restriction area over lava flows.

Snyder also noted that Gov. David Ige’s second emergency proclamation, which eased permitting regulations to help with the building of temporary housing for lava evacuees, also made it a full misdemeanor to interfere with emergency personnel of any type, not just law enforcement authorities.

Ige is coming to Hilo Thursday to meet with Kim, Snyder said, and the main focus will be on fast-tracking temporary housing.

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According to Snyder, Kim said, “Things that took weeks and months to get done in the past has now taken days.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com

  1. M. Pat Wright June 6, 2018 10:22 am Reply

    Rather than a complete, unenforceable, ban on drones why don’t they allow some modest windows of time in which drones can fly but not manned aircraft? The public would like to see, and has a right to see what is going on.


    1. Cary F. June 6, 2018 10:50 am Reply

      Because public safety is paramount, not curiosity. The state must have priority to fly at all times to access damage for FEMA allocations, warn public of impending danger that may occur at any given time. Curiosity is not a priority, safety and governmental operations are.


  2. Kaipo Wall June 6, 2018 11:16 am Reply

    Who owns the land after the lava covers it ? What becomes of the value that the property owners have had in their acreage , homes and businesses ? What rights do property owners have to the new lava which covers their property ? Properties delineated by GPS markers , not only property pins , so that regardless of what happened , the exact location of their properties is still known . Is there any mechanism for compensation , if it somehow becomes State land by default ? If not , does that not compound the disaster for those affected , that they are now also subject to mandatory State confiscatory forfeiture ? Do they have grounds for law suit against the State for any such policies of confiscation and forfeiture ? Inquiring minds want to know….


    1. Frequent_Runner June 6, 2018 11:37 am Reply

      Yeah right sue the state because lava flow. When the owners don’t pay their property taxes the county will foreclose. The county probably wont bother having a tax auction but It would be hilarious if they did and some mainlander brought the tax deeds at the tax auction.


      1. Kaipo Wall June 6, 2018 11:47 am Reply

        Sue the State for confiscating and forfeiture of and upon private property , based on corrupt State laws . How can there be confiscation of real property without compensation ? Even eminent domain features compensation . Once covered with lava , would the State forbid attempts by the property owner to redevelop their land , even while demanding property taxes for property to which the State was denying access to? This is America , not North Korea .


        1. Frequent_Runner June 6, 2018 1:16 pm Reply

          I am sure the county will let you go on back to it after it is safe and build your mansion on lava rock. Good luck getting yiur bldg materials etc up there without roads.


          1. guest June 7, 2018 8:08 am

            Good luck getting insurance but not like that has stopped people before. As long as State and Federal agencies are there to bail them out, why not!


      2. ypupule June 6, 2018 2:47 pm Reply

        Less than $500 in assessed value = $0 property tax.


    2. briala June 6, 2018 1:20 pm Reply

      Interesting questions. In the absence of other information I’d assume ownership of all parcels is the same as before. Is there any reason to believe that’s not true?

      Of course they are likely worth a lot less with no structures and lava on top of them, and without roads and others infrastructure servicing them. Hopefully the county will be reasonable in promptly re-assessing the value of the parcels to their new much lower values, meaning property tax due if any should be minimal, so no reason for owners to lose them due to non-payment and foreclosure.

      Longer term, I suppose there’s a discussion to be had around whether we want to rebuild in this area, or whether for safety, heartache, and economic reasons it might be better to declare the area uninhabitable and say incorporate it into the park or state land. At that point I imagine some compensation would be due — and perhaps a fair trade that would put some money into the pockets of people who may need it now to resume their lives, and help prevent the consequences of this for next time.


    3. ypupule June 6, 2018 3:24 pm Reply

      Far as I know, the property owners still own their lava-inundated land, which basically has zero value (so it’s exempt from property tax). Property that hasn’t been overrun, but still has been adversely affected (e.g., roads, utility infrastructure destroyed), will see lower assessed values, and therefore lower taxes. I suppose if taxes are unpaid over time, the properties could eventually be seized and forfeited, like any other property… but wouldn’t be surprised if the County tries to give these particular property owners a break somehow.


  3. Servite Omak June 6, 2018 1:22 pm Reply

    houses are an insult to Pele, she is cleaning up her island, time for tossing a fat wahine virgin into the lava pit, lol,,, who buys property next to an active volcano? answer,, an idiot


    1. leilani June 6, 2018 9:58 pm Reply

      excuse me but fyi the entire island is a volcano so are we all stupid to live on this entire island because mother earth, tutu pele and God almighty decides to create more aina? answer: NO

      I am born and raised on moku o keawe and there’s no other place I’d rather be. So if you live on our island volcano you’re calling yourself an idiot, you said it not me.


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