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Kim

Lava watch

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Justin

Interestingly, I think I fall "in the middle" from Bo's post above. We really enjoy our time in Pahoa, but I'm not 100% sure we could live there full-time. I guess I won't know until we stay for many months at a time. In the meantime, here are some land photos from Thanksgiving 2010 (land) and New Year's 2013 (sea), when the lava was seemingly a lifetime away, on the south shores:

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DoomsDave

The fastest growing state in America . . .

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WestCoastGal

Saw the latest map update and looks like both Leilani and Kaohe can breathe some relief. Great news.

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bgl

Saw the latest map update and looks like both Leilani and Kaohe can breathe some relief. Great news.

Leilani, certainly yes, and Ka'ohe probably. Main problem right now - at its present rate of progress it could threaten Pahoa by the end of the month, and potentially Highway 130, which is our lifeline to the rest of the island.

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Justin

Yeah, right now 130 is literally the only way to/from Hilo (at least south of Ainaloa). They have discussed re-opening Chain of Craters Road, putting in a new road on the old Railroad easement (to connect south Puna with HPP), or grading and widening Government Beach Road (right along the coast, north of Kapoho), but they better get a move on in a hurry.

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WestCoastGal

An updated map has been posted as of 9/10. Looks like Pele doesn't want to follow the down-slope paths that have been mapped out.

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Jerry@TreeZoo

If all the lava is flowing from the main crater or vent, wouldn't all the lava just flow into the lowest points? That appears to be one of the many streams in the area. I would guess that now that it is in a stream bed, it would tend to follow that route. That would be north for a while.

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bgl

The only thing that really matters at this point is where the front of the lava flow is going. And it's at around the 1200 ft elevation and Pahoa is at around 650 ft and only three miles away. In other words, a major downhill and NOT good news! :bemused: The fiow has been moving forward at about a quarter mile a day recently. :bemused:

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LJG

The only thing that really matters at this point is where the front of the lava flow is going. And it's at around the 1200 ft elevation and Pahoa is at around 650 ft and only three miles away. In other words, a major downhill and NOT good news! :bemused: The fiow has been moving forward at about a quarter mile a day recently. :bemused:

Bo, looking at the map and seeing the gray, it looks like this has never happened before in that area? What if it cuts the road in half? Is there another way out? Almost looks like you would need to go around the volcano?

Hoping she runs out of steam for you guys.

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Brahea Axel

The only thing that really matters at this point is where the front of the lava flow is going. And it's at around the 1200 ft elevation and Pahoa is at around 650 ft and only three miles away. In other words, a major downhill and NOT good news! :bemused: The fiow has been moving forward at about a quarter mile a day recently. :bemused:

It does look like it's headed to Pahoa. That's really the only place with real services around, then what happens?

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WestCoastGal

Saw this report from this morning, 9/11. http://www.bigislandvideonews.com/2014/09/11/video-morning-lava-flow-update-thursday-september-11/ Cutting it close on Kaohe Homesteads.

I've watched a few of the meeting videos and read many of the comments posted. Very enlighting as to the variety of opinions on how to proceed.

Also noticed that plans for 130 were discussed. Not being familiar with the area, is there the possibility that a port/pier of some sort could be errected so that people and supplies could be transported into/away from the area or is the shoreline around there too difficult to work with?

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bgl

Latest prediction is sort of a worst case for Pahoa, with the flow heading more or less straight for the little town. This has never happened before in the sense that there's never been a flow that went through that area since Pahoa first came into existence. If that isn't bad enough, Highway 130 is only a short distance (further) away and if 130 gets cut off it'll create a major problem for all of lower Puna. That means everybody living south of Pahoa, and that includes Leilani Estates with about 500 homes and Kalapana and a number of other smaller communities. There is currently a rough road along the ocean from Kapoho to Hawaiian Beaches (Waa Waa) that would provide access, even if it would be a very time consuming detour. That's provided the flow doesn't aim for Kahakai Blvd., which connects Hawaiian Beaches with Hwy 130 and the northern part of Pahoa (Malama Market). Another more complicated access option is to open up Chain of Craters road from Kalapana, west into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. About eight miles of lavafields to deal with. That road was cut off around 1986 by the flow from Pu'u O.o. A rough lava road could probably be constructed in a matter of weeks, but the travel time from, for instance, Leilani Estates to Hilo would go from the current 30 minutes to about two hours.

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Brahea Axel

Maybe it's time to invest in a helicopter. :)

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Dypsisdean

Latest prediction is sort of a worst case for Pahoa, with the flow heading more or less straight for the little town. This has never happened before in the sense that there's never been a flow that went through that area since Pahoa first came into existence. If that isn't bad enough, Highway 130 is only a short distance (further) away and if 130 gets cut off it'll create a major problem for all of lower Puna. That means everybody living south of Pahoa, and that includes Leilani Estates with about 500 homes and Kalapana and a number of other smaller communities. There is currently a rough road along the ocean from Kapoho to Hawaiian Beaches (Waa Waa) that would provide access, even if it would be a very time consuming detour. That's provided the flow doesn't aim for Kahakai Blvd., which connects Hawaiian Beaches with Hwy 130 and the northern part of Pahoa (Malama Market). Another more complicated access option is to open up Chain of Craters road from Kalapana, west into Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. About eight miles of lavafields to deal with. That road was cut off around 1986 by the flow from Pu'u O.o. A rough lava road could probably be constructed in a matter of weeks, but the travel time from, for instance, Leilani Estates to Hilo would go from the current 30 minutes to about two hours.

Bo,

I was thinking that it's a good thing you guys are all self sufficient when it comes to water. If it was a more traditional setup, you would be worrying about where the water lines were and getting cut off from water. But that got me thinking about your electric, phone, and cable. What will happen if it does get to 130 - will it take out your utility lines?

And something I noticed about the map - for anyone following things. Like Jerry mentioned, I thought the blue lines were stream beds. But apparently they are "computed" flow lines based on the topography. So I guess this is the best they can do as to predicting any direction of flow.

I'm still thinking that the further it gets from Pu'u O'o the more of a chance it has of petering out - as some of the older flows in that direction did (based on the gray areas on the map). Let's hope so.

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DoomsDave

Hmm.

This sounds a lot like trying to predict where earthquake faults are.

The big ones are easy to find, but sometimes the little ones are the concerns of the day.

Hope you are all okay. That's such a lovely place.

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kahili

Check out this video of the mayor talking to Pahoa people. He sounds like he really is trying to think ahead and be there for everyone. Talking about putting together all the relevant people that the residents might have questions for-electric, communications (Verizon etc), road engineers etc (Chain of craters rd), lawyers and meeting this Sat in Pahoa where anyone can come and ask specific questions. https://www.facebook.com/PureDigitalMedia its the Mayor Billy Kenoi video.

Boy, if someone had suggested that Pu'u o'o lava flows could have gone towards Pahoa 30 yrs ago, we all would have laughed. Never thought this would happen, that it would go sideways for this amt of time.

What is the situation with home insurance there? Are the houses covered for lava? Do they even sell it anymore (if they ever did)? I remember when the houses were getting hit in Royal Gardens, because they didn't have lava insurance, they would leave their propane tanks open and usually the house would catch fire and burn from the propane before the lava hit (from the heat) and then they got coverage. How the insurance companies knew, I could never figure out, because most of the time the house was covered in lava before the insurance people got out there, but I think some people filmed the house burning.

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bgl

If the flow were to cross Hwy 130, which is not a farfetched scenario right now, then chances are that all lines (power etc.) would also be cut, but I'm guessing there are all sorts of plans in place to deal with a number of different scenarios to restore service ASAP, even if the flow were to continue to run across 130 for some time. As of an hour ago, the flow COULD reach Ka'ohe in a day and reach Pahoa in "20 days". This estimate is of course constantly being "refined" the closer the flow gets to Pahoa. If and when it reaches Pahoa it could easily get to Hwy 130 within another day or so.

And about insurance: you can certainly get insurance here. All sorts of insurance, including hurricane and insurance covering the consequences of a volcanic eruption (typically fire from the heat of the lava flow). However, the risk of one's house being in the path of the lava flow is somewhat remote for most of the people in lower Puna, despite the relative proximity, which also means little or no chance of any insurance payout. The simple fact is that the worst-case scenario for most involves a lot of added inconvenience. And LOTS of it. :bemused:

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SailorBold

For lava to move over a mile in a week that's pretty damn fast... too fast of you ask me. It looks like it is spreading out also.

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WestCoastGal

I hope Kahoe Homesteads is spared although I saw on our national news tonight that some were evacuating from there and the flow is thought to be heading northeast again.

I'm finding that Big Island News link above in this thread very informative. Watched the story about the medical clinic in Pahoa that had its insurance policies (non-medical) not renewed as of this November due to the lava flow. That's really sad for the community and hopefully the clinic will continue in some fashion if not there somewhere nearby. I would think that before November though they'll know whether the building will be affected or not. There was also a brief news clip on Beach Road before real work begins on it. I kind of remember how walking over an old lava flow was not easy so making the old flows along Beach Road passable by vehicle must be very challenging. Is lava something that can be ground down to resurface?

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bgl

This is part of the latest official update, of just a few hours ago:

"At the average rate of advancement of 215 m/day (705 ft/day) since September 12, we project that lava could flow from its current location to Apa`a Rd in 15 days and to the Pāhoa Village Road (government road) in Pāhoa within 20 days. These estimates will be continually refined as we track this lava flow."

Early this afternoon the front of the flow was at an elevation of 1060 ft. Pahoa, which is less than three miles away is around 650 ft. In other words, a considerable drop in elevation in those three miles. At this point it seems extremely unlikely that it will cause any damage to Ka'ohe Homesteads for the simple reason that it's easier to move downhill on the ridge than sideways. Pahoa - now that's an entirely different scenario if the lava keeps coming. Apa'a Road (referenced above) is a bit north of the main part of town and there are quite a few homes along that road. As of this afternoon the smoke from the forest fires resulting from the lava front was very clearly visible from Highway 130, north of Pahoa (some four miles away).

And they are apparently working on both Railroad Avenue and Beach Road, making them into passable roads. As far as I know, they've been more or less passable in the past, but maybe not easily so, and parts of Beach Road has been off limits to vehicles. That will probably change. I doubt there's any need to go through any lava fields with these two roads. Chain of Craters Road would be an entirely different scenario though. However, the overwhelming part of that entire 8-9 mile long stretch of lava is pahoehoe, which can be fairly smooth and in parts even passable with a 4 wheel drive vehicle. An a'a flow would be a whole different scenario. Tough to even walk across an a'a field. But in either case, large bulldozers would easily be able to create a road. Many of the roads in some of the subdivisions here are actually straight on a pahoehoe flow.

In any case, looks like we're in for interesting times here. We had dinner at Ning's (Thai) in Pahoa earlier this evening, and you wouldn't know that this little town is facing its most serious threat ever. Everything is perfectly normal. Quite surreal.

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Jerry@TreeZoo

A question to the locals:

Is the older lava flow from June, July and August cooled somewhat? Has it formed a crust so that lava is actually in a "tube" in that area? Or is it hot and red, flowing like a lava river from beginning to end? From the crater to its front outside of Pahoa?

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bgl

Jerry,

I'm fairly certain it's NOT flowing like a river from "beginning to end", but I don't think it has formed an actual tube either. To understand more about how lava flows, look at the photo in my post #39 on page 1 with Kim and the flow behind her. And here's another photo, taken of me back in 2005. The difference, which is quite dramatic, is in topography. On fairly flat ground the lava will move slowly and actually form a crust within minutes (as can be seen in the post #39 photo), while in steeper terrain it will actually flow like a river (photo below a good example) and will be too fast moving for a crust to form quickly. In the latter scenario, over time, a crust WILL form, and this is how a tube is created. Other than the stretch where the lava flowed through an existing crack, before it made a left turn and headed N/NE, the flow seems to have behaved quite a bit like the flow in my post #39 photo. Spreading out sideways while moving forward at the same time. And even though lava technically behaves like flowing water, seeking a lower level, it is also much MUCH denser, meaning its anticipated path is more unpredictable. One time, years ago, when I was out by the active flow I asked a park ranger how long time it would take for an active flow to cool off to the point where you can walk on it. His answer, while pointing at the 2000F red hot flow only a few feet away: "you can walk on it right NOW, as long you have shoes that can take the heat". Since I didn't, I had to pass on that experience. :mrlooney:

Bo-Göran

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Kim

It's kind of hard to make out because of the low contrast, but in Jerry's post #60 the second map has a thin yellow line in the August 6 to August 18 section of the flow. The yellow line represents the lava tube formed along that section. At the front of the flow, since emerging from the ground cracks, no tube is yet formed.

If you visit this link you can see video of a "window" in the lava tube near the source of the flow. It's dramatic and beautiful, but at the same time kind of disheartening to see the rapidity and volume of the flow: http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/multimedia/uploads/multimediaFile-791.mov A wider photo of this point can be seen here:

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WestCoastGal

Today Big Island Video News has a two interesting videos: one a flyover from 9/16 with a historic view including from the lava's originating spot, lava tube area with a skylight, and a second video of a bird's eye view of the road construction being done.

http://www.bigislandvideonews.com/2014/09/17/morning-lava-flow-update-wednesday-sept-17/

The photo at the top of the webpage shows Pahoa in the foreground and 3 miles away the approaching flow. It reminds me of a steam engine off in the distance. Glad to hear that only vacant land on Kahoe Homestead property has been breached by the lava. Sure hope Pahoa can be as fortunate.

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bgl

Debbie, thanks for the link to those videos. Very informative and interesting. :)

As of yesterday afternoon the flow front had dropped below the 1,000 ft elevation line and continues to head in a general northeasterly direction. Unless there are breakout flows higher up, Ka'ohe Homesteads can now probably consider itself safe from the lava itself. Pahoa however, not so. Based on speed and direction over the past few days, the prediction is that the flow will reach Apa'a Street (also known as Cemetery Road on that particular stretch) by September 26th and Government Road in Pahoa by September 30th. That's the main road going through the town of Pahoa and it would cut the town into two parts. The way the flow lines run, it seems likely that it will cut Gov't Road about halfway between the post office and the intersection of Apa'a Street. There are a few homes there, but not as many as there are further south. If it keeps going, and there's no reason to assume anything else, it would reach Highway 130 in another two or (at the most) three days, cutting off all of lower Puna. The end result of this for Pahoa town would be a divided town, with the older (main) part of the town south of the lava flow, and the newer Malama Market area north of the flow. The older part has the banks, the post office, and most restaurants (Kaleo's, Paolo's, Luquin's, Ning for instance), as well as the county swimming pool and the Pahoa school. This would all be easily accessible from lower Puna (Leilani Estates and Kalapana for instance) via Highway 130. The northern part has the newer Malama Market place, a few smaller eating establishments, Longs Drugs and two service (gas) stations. It would only be accessible from the north.

Also, as can be seen in one of the two videos (link above), work is in progress on Railroad Avenue and Beach Road and apparently they will be open to traffic on September 24th. Railroad cuts diagonally through Hawaiian Paradise Park and then continues through fairly open terrain to Hawaiian Beaches/Shores. This will be a two lane road. Beach Road runs along the water and would only be a one lane road (as in "total one line") with specific areas where traffic could meet and pass. Both roads are dirt roads. If the flow keeps going for a few more months it will however cut off both of these roads as well, and Railroad would be the first casualty. :bummed: In such a scenario the only option would be to open to Chain of Craters Road through Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

This has always been an interesting place. Apparently it's about to become even more interesting... :bemused:

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bgl

I forgot one of the most important parts! In the scenario above the fire department, ambulance and police department would be cut off from lower Puna since they are located north of the likely cutoff area. No idea if there's a Plan B for this, but if not, then response times to all of lower Puna would increase dramatically. Also, Kapoho is part of lower Puna as well, and would be affected even though they have easy access to the road through Waa Waa (along the ocean) and would thus be able to access both Railroad and Beach Roads in Hawaiian Beaches faster than the rest of lower Puna.

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Brahea Axel

Well, look at it on the bright side, land is still 1/3rd of what it costs elsewhere on the islands and you can grow the most species of palms anywhere on US soil. maybe you need to grow more food crops so you don't have to travel up into town as often.

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WestCoastGal

Bo, I noticed on the 9/17 projected flow on an older satellite image that they point out a "transfer" station. I've heard this mentioned in several of the videos but have no idea what it is. Can you illuminate?

Here's the satellite image posted on the USGS site:

http://hvo.wr.usgs.gov/maps/uploads/image-123.jpg

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bgl

"Transfer station", yeah that's a good one! Sounds much better than "The dump"! :laugh2: And it actually IS much nice than "a dump". There is no official garbage collection in Puna, so we take our trash to one of several transfer stations, either for recycling or for it to be taken to the actual real "dump" in Hilo in large containers. So, the name actually is appropriate in the sense that each transfer station only serves as a transfer point for onward travel by our discarded junk! And the Pahoa transfer station was completey re-done a couple of years ago and is actually a very nice and neat place. Based on flow and contour lines it looks like the lava might just miss it, crossing Apa'a Street a bit southeast of the station, but close. It's going to get pretty exciting towards the end of next week... :bemused:

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Justin

And the Transfer Station is relatively new - it wasn't open (or at least open full time) when I moved in January 2011. It looks like it might miss the transfer station (going just south), and also miss the post office and other commercial buildings (going just north). Unfortunately, this would mean hitting a couple of residential properties in between, but - all things considered - this probably would impact the fewest number of people. It also seems to be thinning out, so I am getting cautiously optimistic...

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_Keith

I can fathom losing my home in a disaster. I can fathom even losing most of the plantings. What is hard to fathom is losing 100% of the home, 100% of the plantings and losing the land itself forever. That you cannot rebuild from, you can only leave and never look back. I would have difficulty with that.

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Dypsisdean

I can fathom losing my home in a disaster. I can fathom even losing most of the plantings. What is hard to fathom is losing 100% of the home, 100% of the plantings and losing the land itself forever. That you cannot rebuild from, you can only leave and never look back. I would have difficulty with that.

Not entirely true Keith. You still own the land, and can rebuild. However, finding your pins might be a challenge.

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And there may be other problems - like getting in and out.

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But any problems you had with your neighbors are probably behind you.

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WestCoastGal

"Transfer station", yeah that's a good one! Sounds much better than "The dump"! :laugh2: And it actually IS much nice than "a dump". There is no official garbage collection in Puna, so we take our trash to one of several transfer stations, either for recycling or for it to be taken to the actual real "dump" in Hilo in large containers. So, the name actually is appropriate in the sense that each transfer station only serves as a transfer point for onward travel by our discarded junk! And the Pahoa transfer station was completey re-done a couple of years ago and is actually a very nice and neat place. Based on flow and contour lines it looks like the lava might just miss it, crossing Apa'a Street a bit southeast of the station, but close. It's going to get pretty exciting towards the end of next week... :bemused:

Ha, now I was thinking something along the lines of a transit bus station taking people to Hilo, Kona, etc. instead of them driving cars to work that way each day. Glad I asked the question and thanks for the amusing answer. I've lived in towns where we had a recycling center that we would take things to but never had to actually transport our garbage too. Certainly would make you more careful what you used and had to dispose of as garbage. Thinking about that I can also picture some nasty looking ads for superior garbage bags to avoid an equally nasty smelling car when a bag broke, but then maybe an ad for car air fresheners would follow. My dad grew up on a farm but I've lived a city-fied/suburban life all my life so this would be a big change for me. We've only started to do without shopping bags here in this part of California.

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bgl

Interesting development these last few days. The lava front slowed down considerably Fri/Saturday, only advancing a total of about 125 metres those two days, and between yesterday morning and this morning (Monday), the front was pretty much at a standstill. That doesn't necessarily mean anything. A temporary lull could be just that - temporary, and the flow could continue full force tomorrow, or any day after that. Or this could be the end of it - for now. :) One thing is for certain: it's got everyone's attention and Pahoa is buzzing of activity. Kim and I had dinner at Kaleo's last night at 5:30 pm. Normally, at 5:30 pm it would be pretty empty, with most people arriving an hour or so later. Not so last night. Place was absolutely packed and apparently they are doing great business because everybody wants to come out to Pahoa and see what's going on - no doubt expecting that half the town will be gone soon (which probably, and hopefully, won't be the case - no matter what).

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Dypsisdean

Interesting development these last few days. The lava front slowed down considerably Fri/Saturday, only advancing a total of about 125 metres those two days, and between yesterday morning and this morning (Monday), the front was pretty much at a standstill. That doesn't necessarily mean anything. A temporary lull could be just that - temporary, and the flow could continue full force tomorrow, or any day after that. Or this could be the end of it - for now. :) One thing is for certain: it's got everyone's attention and Pahoa is buzzing of activity. Kim and I had dinner at Kaleo's last night at 5:30 pm. Normally, at 5:30 pm it would be pretty empty, with most people arriving an hour or so later. Not so last night. Place was absolutely packed and apparently they are doing great business because everybody wants to come out to Pahoa and see what's going on - no doubt expecting that half the town will be gone soon (which probably, and hopefully, won't be the case - no matter what).

How ironic would that be - Pele's gift to Pahoa, instead of her punishment? :)

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JasonD

I've been thinking about you, BGL, and all the other people I know who live in Puna beyond the cutoff point on 130. It must feel very strange to be facing this scenario. Before now it's only been imaginable from examining geological maps of old lava flows.

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