WHT Editorial: Mixed messages through the vog

Norwegian Cruise Line said Friday it planned to return to weekly dockings in Hilo and Kona.

It’s been dropping anchor around Hawaii for years, but the announcement was cause for celebration for Gov. David Ige and the Hawaii Tourism Authority because the cruise line had canceled the last month’s worth of visits due to the Kilauea eruption.

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Ige and HTA were thrilled about the news, and issued a press release praising the company.

“This is especially wonderful news for the small businesses in and around those communities that service the wishes of the ship’s guests as they venture out to experience the incredible beauty and fascinating attractions throughout the island of Hawaii,” Ige said.

Going forward, Norwegian’s Pride of America cruise ship plans to port for the day in Hilo each Tuesday, starting June 12, and in Kona each Wednesday, starting June 13,

Meanwhile, on Friday, the tally of destroyed homes from Pele’s fire sat north of 600.

Maybe it’s the vog, but all the mixed — or at least tone deaf — messages are starting to irritate.

Understood, Hawaii’s economy is dependant on tourism and officials are praising companies that are the island’s lifeblood.

(Anyone else notice the majority of the people cited for trespassing to get a closer look of the lava destruction last weekend were tourists? Come see our island! Wait, don’t come see that.)

But in the governor’s and HTA’s zeal to keep the economy pumping, they’ve come across at times as downplaying the islandwide impacts of this natural disaster with their open-for-business mantra. Rare are the promotional pieces delivered without the fact that, ho-hum, Kilauea has been active since 1983.

Yes, but she hasn’t taken 600 homes in one sweep during those decades. That’s 600 families needing to find homes on an island where the market is extremely limited in the first place.

This is serious. This will forever be bookmarked in island history. Lives are upside down.

And yes, the air is terrible.

We’re not gauging this by the readings from the differing charts and air quality monitoring websites officials use that confused most all of West Hawaii. We’re basing this on living here and walking outside.

And as Kilauea has been erupting since 1983, why are we figuring out now that county and state and federal and private air monitoring ratings are apples and oranges (and pears and bananas), prompting the need to switch to a uniform standard as the way to sync it up? That sounds like something abnormal caught us off guard.

One expert at Wednesday’s air quality meeting, meanwhile, tried to reassure the anxious crowd that vog isn’t nearly as dangerous as the health effects one could suffer from the air pollution in China.

Wonderful.

Except that doesn’t matter to one single person’s daily life on this island.

Yes, please, pray we keep the economy going. We’re all in this together and we will rebuild together. Everyone is doing their part — government, tourism and other officials, tops among them.

But let’s call a spade a spade and not downplay this. Don’t blame national media — as has been done — for doom and gloom headlines that are giving the eruption an exaggerated wrap. This is a big deal and island life up and down is anything but relaxing and normal.

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Forgive us our irritation.

The vog has gotten to us to the point that comparing Hawaii Island to China or celebrating Mr. Mainland’s dockside return makes us scratch our throat.