RESPONSE TO EFFUSIVE BASALTIC ERUPTIONS IN URBAN ENVIRONMENTS: LESSONS FROM THE 2014-2015 PAHOA LAVA FLOW CRISIS
In 2014-2015, pāhoehoe lava flows from Kīlauea encroached upon the town of Pāhoa on the Island of Hawai’i. The township’s solid waste transfer station, a Hawaii Electric Light Company power pole, two residential structures including a shed and a house, and a secondary roadway were burned or inundated by the lava flows. Overall, the lava flows reached little infrastructure and few buildings, but the threat of the lava flow triggered temporary relocation of students to other schools, business continuity plans for many local businesses, and significantly impacted the fabric of the community and the lives of thousands of individuals who faced months of uncertain lava flow advance. Two years after this crisis, we have conducted interviews and focus groups with scientists, emergency managers, and personnel from the local utility companies who responded to the events. We present preliminary findings on the effectiveness of mitigating actions taken during the event and explore how best to respond to a similar event in the future in Hawai‘i and elsewhere. The data collected from these interviews and focus groups will inform impact assessments and the development of mitigation strategies in other urban areas that could be threatened by effusive basaltic eruptions in the future, such as Auckland, New Zealand.