Recent Puna Lava Flows

The Recent Puna and Pohoiki Lava Flows

Tn the spring of 2018, a lava eruption and subsequent, devastating flows changed the lower Puna landscape forever. More than 700 homes and many farms were destroyed— displacing approximately 2,000 Puna residents.

Hawaii and the world watched, as the lava crept down Kilauea Volcano’s east rift zone, fanning out across the Puna area towards the sea. Nothing could stop it, and homes, house lots, and agricultural lands were wiped out. The lava flow’s relentless path destroyed the once beautiful coastline of Vacation Land, known for its oceanfront homes and clear-water snorkeling tide pools. As the coastline boiled from the intense heat, some fish and marine life met a ghastly end.

The flow also buried Ahalanui County Beach Park, once a popular destination among locals and visitors, with its rolling lawn, shade trees, and an Olympic size, thermal heated tide pool. Despite being surrounded by flows, Isaac Hale Beach Park, the adjacent Pohoiki boat ramp, and the classic, old plantation-style Red House (built in the mid-1800s) were left in tact. The lava stopped some 500 feet from the boat ramp. Currently the bay and boat launch ramp are surrounded by lava sand. The Bay’s water is stagnant and the ramp is not available as a boat launch area.

Puna and Pohoiki, known for their agriculturally fertile lands and great coastal fishing, are no strangers to devastating lava flows. Still the recent flow has changed the landscape of this area for years to come and even the surf spots require a long hike to get to now.

Recovery efforts from the lava flow are moving along. State and County work teams have excavated and graded the lava covered roads and access points. Last November 2018, Highway 137 re-opened. Utilities are to be restored to Isaac Hale Park. Hopefully soon, more people will be allowed to visit this incredible area

Michael Miller & Alison Miller, Publishers & Writers

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