Daily Photo / Hawaii / Hawaii Sights / Travel

Pahoa: Seeing Madame Pele in action

Where lava burned through the asphalt behind the Pahoa Transfer Station.

Where lava burned through the asphalt behind the Pahoa Transfer Station.

Do you guys know what I mean when I say I’ve got the post-holiday blues? (It’s real because it’s on WebMD.) I did a quick Google search and there are actually articles you can read that give tips on how to beat it. Needless to say, if you’ve been following along with my blog at all, you’ll see I’m in a bit of a slump.

So as I try go get out of this funk, I’ve got a whole lot of material coming your way from my latest trip to the Big Island to visit Jake‘s family. Sadly, he wasn’t able to make it back for the holidays and settled for some time in January to make a trip back.

January is actually Volcano Awareness Month, so it’s pretty fitting that we visited the Pahoa Transfer Station during our stay. It’s currently surrounded by fresh lava rock. First Puna endured Tropical Storm Iselle, causing massive damage to the community, then the Kilauea Volcano June 27th lava flow started heading straight for homes.

Seeing the lava at the Pahoa Transfer Station.

Jake and his family standing in front of fresh lava rock at the Pahoa Transfer Station.

Seeping through the fence onto the grounds.

Seeping through the fence onto the grounds.

Back in November, a break out of the main lava flow burst through the station’s fence — rolling down grassy hills and onto the grounds toward buildings, then onto a parking lot where it started to burn through the asphalt. Amazingly, the flow stopped right there and only came within a few yards of the station.

It’s humbling to walk around the grounds and see just how close the lava got to structures only to stop and spare them. As you walk around, you can see where people have left offerings and lei for Pele, the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes. I can’t imagine fearing that my home could be taken by lava — but for people here living with active volcanoes, it’s been a very real possibility.

The public has been able to get an up-close look at the fresh crested-over lava since December. We were lucky to see it since the area will be closed off to the public again come January 31, when officials will begin to restore the area so that it can be converted back to a trash collection site.

Lava breaking through the fence.

Many Puna residents and business owners are still on edge as they wait to see if another break out of the lava flow will cross over their main highway, which would essentially cut them off.

If you’re interested in learning more about this situation, the Hawaii Volcano Observatory provides daily eruption updates, which includes the latest information on the active flow. You can also see maps along with photos and videos on their website.

Having grown up in Hawaii, I’ve learned about lava and how the islands came to be since I was in elementary school — and we’ve always had excellent visual aids that are only a short plane ride away. If you’ve ever visited the Big Island, you’ll find there’s lava rock everywhere. It’s the reason the “Big Island” continues to get bigger, and why the island is home to some of the most beautiful black sand beaches.

Be on the lookout for my post on the Kaimu Black Sand Beach — coming soon!

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