UH for Puna

This page was last updated on Thursday, October 4, 2018, 8:12am HST.

Archive of Prior Announcements

Please see the UH for Puna homepage for the newest information.

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May 17: [UH Hilo] Kīlauea Explosion and DOE Closures

As you may have seen reported on the news, at approximately 4:15am this morning there was an explosion at Kīlauea that caused a large ash plume to rise from the crater.

Levels for SO2 and ash are expected to remain below 0.1 ppm for Hilo. This is within the level characterized as Green/Good by the State Department of Health.

UH Hilo will remain open.

Due to elevated sulfur dioxide (SO2) levels, Pāhoa High, Intermediate, and Elementary School Complex, Keonepoko Elementary, Hawaiʻi Academy of Arts and Science, Volcano School of Arts and Science will be closed.

Employees affected by the sudden closure of DOE schools may request leave, and supervisors are encouraged to grant the requests.

In cases of operational need requiring an employee to be at work today, employees may bring their school-aged children attending the above listed DOE schools to work. This is on the condition that the children are not disruptive to the work environment and are not left unattended or unsupervised by their parents.

We will continue to monitor the situation.

May 9: Status of Main Campus Buildings

As a result of seismic activity last week, a few buildings on campus have displayed cracks in walls. Beginning last week, UH Hilo Auxiliary Services personnel walked around campus, examining buildings and rooms to identify any damages. UH Hilo Facilities Planning staff conducted site inspections of all reported cracks and has determined that all are superficial and not structural. Repairs will occur during the summer.

If you should identify any damage to a building that you feel is a result of the recent seismic activity, please feel free to contact Kalei Rapoza, Interim Vice Chancellor for Administrative Affairs.

May 8: Dependent/Child Care During Finals

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 301, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, 7:30 am to 4:30 pm
  • UH Hilo Rose and Raymond Tseng Terrace (UCB 127), Tuesday, 7:30 am to 4:30 pm

May 8: Temporary Housing for Students

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 at fmgomes@hawaii.edu.

May 7: UH Hilo Spring 2018 Commencement Still On Saturday, May 12th

The University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo Spring Commencement is scheduled for this Saturday, May 12, 9 a.m. at the Edith Kanakaʻole Stadium. Doors will open at 7:30 a.m. for registered ADA guests, and 8 a.m. for the general public. Commencement will also be streamed live in the air conditioned Aunty Sally Kaleohano's Lūʻau Hale on 799 Piʻilani Street. The University encourages everyone to plan appropriately for what is expected to be a large crowd.

The ongoing Kīlauea activity remains a serious concern for many of our ʻohana members, and we continue to care for the safety and well-being of all those affected. There is no increased health hazard on the Hilo campus due to the eruption. However, due to increased gas emissions, there is a possibility for sporadically heavier vog concentrations at times. University officials are monitoring the situation closely and participate in regular Hawaiʻi County Civil Defense briefings.

May 6: Message for UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi CC Students, Faculty, Staff

Aloha UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College ʻohana,

The ongoing Kilauea activity remains a serious concern for many of our ʻohana 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 (after this message).

  • How far is the recent volcanic activity from the UH Hilo campus?
  • Could the lava reach the UH Hilo campus?
  • Does the eruption pose any health hazards for students and employees while on the UH Hilo campus?
  • How long will the earthquakes last?
  • Is it safe for people to return to the UH Hilo campus on Monday and through the rest of the semester and summer?

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 our office on the 2nd floor of the Student Services Center, Monday-Friday, 7:45-4:30 pm.

Hawaiʻi 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, 8:00am-4:30 pm.

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
SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline website
Crisis Line of Hawaiʻi 1-800-753-6879
Crisis Text Line: www.crisistextline.org or 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 and Rachel Solemsaas

May 6: Frequently Asked Questions

How far is the recent volcanic activity from the UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi Community College campus?
The new eruption site is about 20 miles southeast of the Hilo campuses. This eruption is part of the ongoing Puʻu ʻŌʻō eruption that began in 1983. On Monday, April 30, 2018, magma started moving underground from beneath the Puʻu ʻŌʻō 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 Kīlauea volcano this past week?
The reddish clouds of rock dust were produced as the center of the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent collapsed. Magma moving towards Leilani Estates partially drained the small magma body beneath Puʻu ʻŌʻō 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 Hawaiʻi 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 Hawaii 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 Kīlauea Volcano. The large earthquakes experienced on May 3 and 4 are related to movement of the south flank or south side of Kīlauea Volcano. A large section of the south side of Kīlauea 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 Puʻu ʻŌʻō 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 Hawaiʻi Community College campus on Monday and through the rest of the semester and summer?
It is safe to return to the UH Hilo and Hawaiʻi 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.

May 4: Earthquake Safety Tips

  1. Drop to the ground; take cover by getting under a sturdy table or other piece of furniture; and hold on until the shaking stops. If there isn’t a table or desk near you, seek cover against an interior wall or inside corner, protecting your head and neck with your arms. Do not use a doorway except if you know it is a strongly supported, load-bearing doorway and it is close to you.
  2. Avoid areas near large windows, tall furniture and heavy hanging objects.
  3. After the earthquake, remain calm. Do not leave the building until the shaking is over. Then exit in a calm and orderly manner. Do not use the elevators. Do not blindly run outside; parts of buildings may still be falling.

Please see the UH for Puna homepage for the newest information.