Pahoa2014

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Opioids in Hawaii; Repatriating Hawaiian Bones; Aloha From Lavaland

Pahoa Lava Flow Series

Feb 12, 2015
Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon

Pāhoa: A Town with a Rich Past and an Uncertain Future

September 24, 2014

Officials are saying lava heading towards Pāhoa on Hawaii's Big Island has slowed for now. But that isn't putting anyone at ease. Over the next few days, we’ll hear stories of how people are dealing with this uncertainty. HPR’s Molly Solomon spent some time in Pāhoa, and found a town with a colorful past and an uncertain future.

Why a Pahoa Bookstore is Staying Open

Nov 12, 2014
Molly Solomon

The lava flow creeping through Pāhoa continues to remain active, claiming its first residential home earlier this week. Many residents have already packed up and left the area, but as HPR’s Molly Solomon reports, some businesses have chosen to stay.

Family History Survives Lava in Pāhoa Cemetery

Nov 6, 2014
Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon

Of the many stories of loss and change that surround the lava flow moving to isolate parts of Pāhoa, few rival the story of the Buddhist cemetery just outside town The century-old graveyard is home to primarily Japanese immigrants, many of whom worked in the sugar cane fields that once bordered the town. HPR’s Molly Solomon visited Pāhoa last week and has this story of one family’s history, forever changed by the lava.

  Last month, Aiko Sato carried a bucket of red ginger to her car. She was heading out to the Pāhoa Japanese Cemetery to pay respect to the graves of her ancestors…part of her weekly ritual…but this time was different. The slow-moving lava heading towards town now had the cemetery in its path. “Something told me, I had to go,” says Aiko.

Hawai‘i County Civil Defense had already blocked the main road. But after hearing Aiko’s story, a state official agreed to drive her out to see the graves. “And he let me take my time,” recalls Aiko. “I was able to place flowers at the family grave. And I felt relief, because I knew that would probably be the final time. And I guess it was.”

The next day, Aiko woke up to find the cemetery has been overrun, taken by lava overnight. “They had national news about the lava going over the cemetery,” she said. “I cried, because I figured probably the Sato grave went.”

“I always thought the cemetery would not be covered by the lava,” says Aiko’s aunt, Eiko Kujiyama, who lives down the street with her son. She remembers the phone call from Aiko that morning, telling her the cemetery was gone. “When she called me, I was shocked to hear it was covered - so sad! Every time I prayed, don’t take the cemetery and please spare Pāhoa."

  The loss means something extra to the Sato family. Aiko’s father, Hiroo Sato, spent most of his life caring for the graves of Japanese immigrants buried at the Pāhoa Japanese Cemetery, filled with people who built the town including his parents and two siblings. He’s also known for writing the book, Pāhoa Yesterday, a historical account of the town’s early years. Evidence of his extensive research on the former sugar cane town, are scribbled on pieces of paper Aiko is carefully packing away. “These are all of his things,” she says. “The last of his manuscripts I sent out. All of his other tidbits of information, that went earlier”

  Aiko clears a pile of papers from the dining room table as movers carry a set of chairs down to the carport. She’s evacuating the family home in case the lava takes a turn. Her once crowded living room is now empty, except for an ottoman and the TV.

At a community meeting last week, a scientist with the USGS approached Aiko and her aunt with news about the family grave.

“Everything was up in the air as to whether the grave was still standing,” she said. “But at the lava update meeting we found out the grave had survived.” Aiko pulls out the photo clearly showing the family tombstone surrounded by black lava. “Sato, the family name, is still distinct. To see the lava completely around the gravestone -- it’s like a miracle.”

I ask Aiko what her father would say, knowing the grave he so diligently cared for had survived. “It would bring him a lot of joy and happiness, knowing that it’s still there.”

And at this point, so is Aiko. With the family grave secure, she hopes to stay in the home her family has lived in for generations.

Voices From Pahoa: Claire Napeahi

Nov 3, 2014
USGS
USGS

As lava continues to flow into residential properties in Pahoa, mixed emotions are being felt in the community. Some are anxiously awaiting Pele’s arrival fearing the destruction she may bring. Others view her presence as an honor. HPR’s Molly Solomon is in Pahoa and shares one perspective.

Hawaii County Civil Defense and public safety personnel are working 24/7 in the area to maintain close observations of the lava flow.

Lava Fears Prompt Some Businesses to Close Up Shop

Nov 3, 2014
Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon

While the lava continued to stall over the weekend, USGS geologists stressed the flow is far from over, leaving residents and business owners in Pāhoa preparing for the possibility they may be cut off. As HPR’s Molly Solomon reports, local shops and restaurants are grappling with the decision of whether or not to stay.

Pahoa Residents Pack Meeting on Lava Update

Oct 31, 2014
Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon

The leading edge of the lava slowed to a stall Thursday. The lava, which has not advanced in the past 24 hours, is still 480 feet from Pahoa Village Road. Hundreds of residents attended a community meeting last night seeking answers and information on the lava front. HPR’s Molly Solomon was in Pahoa and has this report.

Pahoa Residents Prepare as Lava Edges Closer

Oct 29, 2014
Molly Solomon / Molly Solomon

Lava flowing from Kilauea Volcano towards the town of Pāhoa has finally arrived, crossing residential property lines early Tuesday morning. Residents have had weeks to prepare for this slow-moving disaster and are now faced with the reality that their homes and businesses could be in danger. HPR’s Molly Solomon is in Pāhoa and has this report.

Remembering Kalapana: Looking Back at What Was Lost

Sep 25, 2014
Erin Datlof
Erin Datlof

The town of Pāhoa on Hawaii's Big Island is making preparations to deal with the possibility of a lava flow. And while it’s stalled for now, officials are continuing to monitor the active flow, where a breakout continues to move. It’s a familiar story for residents in that area, many of whom have gone through this once before. HPR’s Molly Solomon reports.

Molly Solomon
Molly Solomon

Officials are saying lava heading towards Pāhoa on Hawaii's Big Island has slowed for now. But that isn't putting anyone at ease. Over the next few days, we’ll hear stories of how people are dealing with this uncertainty. HPR’s Molly Solomon spent some time in Pāhoa, and found a town with a colorful past and an uncertain future.