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Recent messages from Interim Chancellor Sakai and Chancellor Solemsaas on Kilauea lava and seismic activity

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Hawai’i Community College are closely  monitoring the ongoing Kilauea activity.

May 6, 2018

Aloha University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College ‘ohana,

The ongoing Kilauea activity remains a serious concern for many of our ‘ohana members, and we continue to care for the safety and well-being of all those affected.

To ensure the sharing of accurate information and to help answer questions that some of you might have, we have developed a set of responses for Frequently Asked Questions (found at the end of this message).

Resources

We would like to remind everyone that people feel many different emotions related to a natural disaster. Some ways to help cope with emotional distress include stretching, deep breathing, staying hydrated, avoiding the use of drugs and alcohol, and trying to maintain healthy sleep and eating routines.

UH Hilo students are encouraged to visit the Counseling Services website for information about caring for yourself and others during this time. To make an appointment call 932-7465, email uhhcouns@hawaii.edu, or walk-in to the office on the 2nd floor of the Student Services Center, Monday-Friday, 7:45-4:30 pm.

Hawai‘i CC students are encouraged to reach out to therapist Kate De Soto at 934-2706 or visit the Counseling, Advising & Support Services Center website. To make an appointment call 934-2720, Monday-Friday, 8:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

Employees have access to the University of Hawaiʻi Employee Assistance Program (EAP), which offers counseling support for those families facing crises and problems that affect work performance. For more information about the EAP, call 808-543-8445.

If you or someone you know is in crisis at any time, please seek support:

24 Hour National Disaster Distress Helpline 1-800-985-5990.
Text: “TalkWithUs” just like that to: 66746.
TTY: 1-800-846-8517.
Disaster Distress Hotline.
Crisis Line of Hawai‘i 1-800-753-6879.
Crisis Text Line: Text “Aloha” to 741-741.

As always, continue to keep yourself informed by listening to the latest Civil Defense messages, visiting the UH for Puna website, and listening to your local TV and radio stations.

Mahalo, and be safe.

Marcia Sakai, Interim Chancellor, UH Hilo

Rachel Solemsaas, Chancellor, Hawai‘i Community College

 

FAQs

How far is the recent volcanic activity from the UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College campus?

The new eruption site is about 20 miles southeast of the Hilo campuses. This eruption is part of the ongoing Pu‘u ‘O‘o eruption that began in 1983. On Monday, April 30, 2018, magma started moving underground from beneath the Pu‘u ‘O‘o vent to the east. The movement of magma created a trail of smaller earthquakes that moved eastward into the Leilani Estates region by Thursday, May 3. Lava reached the surface within the subdivision on the same day as this new phase of the eruption began.

What were the alarming red clouds shown in the national news pictures of Kilauea volcano this past week?

The reddish clouds of rock dust were produced as the center of the Pu‘u ‘O‘o vent collapsed. Magma moving towards Leilani Estates partially drained the small magma body beneath Pu‘u ‘O‘o causing the cone to collapse. Subsequent earthquakes created more collapses and ash clouds. It is important to note these were not eruptions and there is no indication that explosive eruptions are going to take place during this eruption.

In what direction is the lava flowing?

Currently there is no lava flowing any great distance from the new vents. If and when the new vents stabilize, any lava flows will go downhill to the south and eventually enter the ocean. Depending on the size of the lava flows they could reach the ocean in as little as a day or as long as several weeks.

Could the lava reach the UH Hilo or the Hawai‘i Community College campus?

There is no chance that lava flows related to this eruption will reach the Hilo campuses.

Does the eruption pose any health hazards for students and employees while on the UH Hilo or Hawai‘i Community College campus?

There is no increased health hazard on the Hilo campuses due to the eruption. However, due to increased gas emissions, there is a possibility for sporadically heavier vog concentrations at times in the future.

How are the earthquakes related to the eruption?

The small earthquakes that moved eastward were directly related to the underground movement of magma in Kilauea Volcano. The large earthquakes experienced on May 3 and 4 are related to movement of the south flank or south side of Kilauea Volcano. A large section of the south side of Kilauea Volcano is constantly being pushed southward or seaward by pressure or stress within the volcano. The movement of magma and the movement of the south side of the volcano are both related to this pressure, so there is a connection between the two. The movement of magma from beneath Pu‘u ‘O‘o appears to have altered the stress field, which in turn triggered the earthquake.

How long will the earthquakes last?

The two magnitude 5+ earthquakes appear to have been foreshocks to the large magnitude 6.9 earthquake experienced on Friday. Aftershocks to this large earthquake will likely continue for several weeks and could be as large as the magnitude 5 earthquakes that preceded the main quake.

Is it safe for people to return to the UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College campus on Monday and through the rest of the semester and summer?

It is safe to return to the UH Hilo and Hawai‘i CC campuses. Campus Security and Housing operations continue to function on a 24/7 schedule. All other operations are scheduled to resume on Monday, May 7, 2018.

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May 4, 2018

Message for UH Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College Students, Faculty, Staff

Aloha,

Due to the current lava activities occurring in the Puna District, the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Hawai‘i Community College are informing students, faculty and staff of the following:

Finals Week, scheduled for May 7-10, 2018, will proceed accordingly. Students who have concerns about their finals should contact their respective faculty. If students experience additional issues with courses and finals, please contact: UH Hilo – vcaa@hawaii.edu; Hawaii CC -jonishi@hawaii.edu.

During Finals Week, students and instructional faculty/proctoring staff who are impacted may bring their school-aged dependents to campus while taking or administering exams. Supervision of school aged-dependents will be provided by UH employee volunteers at the following locations:

  • UH Hilo Campus Center, room 301, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
  • UH Hilo University Classroom Building, room 127, Tuesday, 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Temporary housing for affected students is immediately available. During Finals Week, students relocated into university housing will be provided accommodations and meals at no charge. Students may contact the UH Hilo Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.

UH Hilo and Hawai‘i CC continue to closely monitor this ongoing situation and will provide updates as more information is available.

Please continue to keep yourself informed by listening to the latest Civil Defense messages on their website.

Information and resources for students and employees are also available online.

Mahalo, and be safe,

Marcia Sakai, Interim Chancellor, UH Hilo

Rachel Solemsaas, Chancellor, Hawai‘i Community College

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May 3, 2018

When the needs become clear, we will strive to be a part of the community response to ease this burden on our students, faculty and staff in Puna.

Aloha,

The University of Hawai‘i at Hilo and Hawai’i Community College are closely  monitoring the ongoing Kilauea activity and formulating contingency plans to address situations that may arise.

We recognize that we are in a critical phase of the academic year with finals and commencement within the next week. And we recognize the highest priority of health, safety and ‘ohana and the impact of events in Puna.

At present, both campuses are planning for finals to continue as scheduled. We are talking with faculty and staff about what we can do for people who cannot make it to finals and work if homes and roads are impacted.

If you have concerns about your finals, please contact your respective Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs:

  • UH Hilo: Farrah-Marie Gomes
  • Hawai‘i Community College: Dorinna Cortez, dorinna@hawaii.edu, 934-2510

While the timeline and impact of continuous earthquakes and a possible eruption are uncertain, we encourage everyone to review their personal emergency plans and preparations, which may include taking steps to secure alternative housing and transportation options.

If needed, we will coordinate with Civil Defense and the Red Cross regarding disaster relief efforts. When the needs become clear, we will strive to be a part of the community response to ease this burden on our students, faculty and staff in Puna.

Updates and information for both campuses will be shared as details become available. You may go to the Joint UH Hilo and Hawai’i CC Lava Flow Webpage

In addition, please keep yourself informed by listening to the latest Civil Defense messages and following their instructions, and by visiting the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory website.

Mahalo,

Marcia Sakai, Interim Chancellor, UH Hilo

Rachel Solemsaas, Chancellor, Hawai‘i Community College

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