(BIVN) – Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim opened Tuesday evening’s public meeting in Pahoa on the ongoing volcanic eruption with a short speech.
The mayor began with a reflection on Puna, the “most beautiful place on God’s given Earth”, as he has always called it. Mayor Kim named the places touched by Pele; some gone, some changed. Warm Springs. Queen’s Bath. Kaimu. Kalapana.
He then talked about the county approach to Leilani Estates, where – for the past two nights – emergency evacuations have taken place as fast moving lava flows inundated parts of the neighborhood.
“Last night I told them, I can no longer afford to put residents at risk,” Mayor Kim said. “I can no longer ask of DOCARE, police, fire, National Guard, to go in the dark of a neighborhood they don’t know, to say you must get out now.”
Kim said a new policy of a restricted area will be established. No one will be allowed in.
Kim talked about the tough decision to close Puna beach parks when the eruption began, as well as Monday’s decision to open Pohoiki back up to families, even if – as it turns out – it was only for Memorial Day. When lava crossed Highway 132 today, the Pohoiki policy returned to full closure.
“All I know is nature is taking its course,” Mayor Kim told the crowd in the Pahoa High School cafeteria. “And this is our job. Stay out of harms way, and help each other through this adjustment.”