HI-EMA Deploys Team to Support Hawai‘i County During Mauna Loa Eruption; Begins Planning Work to Reduce Long-Term Impacts

Posted on Dec 2, 2022 in 2022 Mauna Loa Eruption, Information and News Releases, News Stories


Hawaiʻi Emergency Management Agency


 HI-EMA Deploys Team to Support Hawai‘i County During Mauna Loa Eruption; Begins Planning Work to Reduce Long-Term Impacts

For Immediate Release: Friday, December 2, 2022                                                                                            Release No. 2022-049


HONOLULU — The Hawai‘i Emergency Management Agency (HI-EMA) has deployed a team to Hilo to assist with the County’s emergency response to the volcanic eruption of Mauna Loa.

At the same time, HI-EMA is coordinating analysis of potential consequences to the Big Island economy, infrastructure, transportation network, and other effects if the eruption were to eventually damage the Daniel K. Inouye Highway or other significant systems.

“While the lava is moving very slowly at the moment and doesn’t pose an imminent hazard to populated areas, it’s still a hazard with huge destructive potential,” said Luke Meyers, administrator of HI-EMA. “We wouldn’t be doing our jobs if we didn’t work to define the possible impacts and recommend ways to reduce or eliminate them.”

Meyers traveled to Hilo Thursday with a HI-EMA team to meet with county officials and the Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Agency (HCCDA) team, which has been activated 24 hours a day since the eruption started Sunday. Meyers also took part Thursday in a 2.5-hour overflight of the eruption area with the Civil Air Patrol.

“This was a good opportunity to see the hazards and threats from the Mauna Loa eruption,” he said. “It really gave me a better perspective of the situation and where the lava flow is going.”

The four-person Emergency Management Assistance Team deployed to Hilo will support the HCCDA, helping with operations, planning, and logistical challenges during the emergency. The team also will help to ensure that any needs the County identifies can be quickly matched up with available resources and data.

HI-EMA personnel also are coordinating with subject-matter experts to assemble a framework for addressing the consequences — both immediate and long-term — should the lava eventually damage or destroy part of the highway, power lines, or other crucial systems.

“Cutting the highway or other critical infrastructure could affect economic activity, increase commute times, complicate delivery of goods and services, or a whole host of other potential consequences,” Meyers said. “As part of HI-EMA’s support role, we’re developing a blueprint that can be used to anticipate and mitigate those consequences, and maybe even prevent some of them.”

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Adam Weintraub
Communication Director

[email protected]