About The Kaʻū Calendar

Ka`u, Hawai`i, United States
A locally owned and run community newspaper (www.kaucalendar.com) distributed in print to all Ka`u District residents of Ocean View, Na`alehu, Pahala, Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park, Volcano Village and Miloli`i on the Big Island of Hawai`i. This blog is where you can catch up on what's happening daily with our news briefs. This blog is provided by The Ka`u Calendar Newspaper (kaucalendar.com), Pahala Plantation Cottages (pahalaplantationcottages.com), Local Productions, Inc. and the Edmund C. Olson Trust.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Ka`u News Briefs March 23, 2012

Ash covered Ka`u during a volcanic eruption 222 years ago, as shown along the Footprints Trail between Pahala and
Volcano. Photo from Hawaiian Volcanoes Field Course/National Science Foundation.

TODAY IS THE LAST DAY to submit comments on the Ka`u Gym & Shelter Draft Environmental Assessment and  County Councilmember Brittany Smart has weighed in. She expressed support, saying, “It is a much needed component of our island’s disaster response infrastructure,” but pointed to several issues.  Smart asked the design and engineering company PBR Hawai`i to clarify in its Final EA that Ka`u Hospital is not available to the general public as a disaster shelter. “To imply that the ‘vog hardened’ and retrofitted Ka`u Hospital would be available during a vog incident is inadequate,” she said. 
      Smart asks PBR Hawai`i to thoroughly discuss and explain the process used to determine total capacity of the disaster and vog shelters. “The maximum number of residents able to receive shelter on bad vog days is inadequate, especially when taking into account the total population of Pahala while school is in session,” she said.
      Regarding the claim in the draft EA that “Civil Defense is comfortable with the present design capacity for 120 persons,” Smart said the final EA “should provide an elaboration of the basis for this number and documentation that it is Civil Defense’s position. As stated earlier in these comments, we strongly believe this number is inadequate and will be considered a serious defect of this proposal until appropriately addressed.”
Vog from Kilauea Volcano has triggered many vog
alerts since 2008. Photo by Julia Neal
      Smart said the Final EA should also discuss in greater detail explosive volcanic eruptions with accompanying venting of large amounts of toxic gasses, in addition to tephra. “These rare events could trigger the use of this emergency shelter, even if Pahala itself is not directly impacted,” she said. “Please include a thorough review of the 1790 ash fall disaster which killed a group of traveling Hawaiians” in the Ka`u desert.
      Smart also suggests that the final EA should discuss the need for disaster emergency managers to have a triage plan to determine “who gets sheltered and who gets turned away when shelter capacity is exceeded.”
      “We support using high efficiency LED lighting where possible,” Smart said. “Reduced light pollution by providing shields and reflectors on exterior light fixtures is desired.”
      She also supports the inclusion of solar panels to offset energy costs.

COUNTY COUNCIL CANDIDATE Bradley Westervelt also weighed in on the shelter gym. “It has repeatedly come to my attention that the state finds it difficult or impossible to meet FEMA standards for emergency shelters. Stepping back from such requirements is fiscally wise and will allow design that best harmonizes with the unique conditions and needs of our island communities.”
      He urges the county and designers Mitsunaga & Associates “to design and build the Ka`u Gym and Shelter in such a manner to make it secure enough for short-term effective sheltering against the toxicity of heavy vog and ash fallout.” However, he contends, “It need not have expensive HEPA filtering or other AC kind of systems, because it is reasonable to expect in the event of a major disaster that evacuation of the region will be the first priority. Plan for it to be a practical, multi-purpose shelter.” He also said that the “open plaza design is a most welcome direction, and I hope it is pursued.”

COMMENTS ON THE DRAFT EA for the Ka`u shelter and gym can be made today. It is available at Pahala and Na`alehu Public Libraries and online at hawaii.gov/health/environmental/oeqc/index.html. Comments can be sent to Tammy Kapali, Planner, PBR Hawai`i & Associates, Inc., 1001 Bishop Street, Suite 650 Honolulu, HI 96813 or faxed to 808-523-1402. Comments can also be sent to County of Hawai`i Department of Public Works, Attn: David Yamamoto, Aupuni Center, 101 Pauahi Street, Suite 7, Hilo, HI 96720 or faxed to 808-961-8630.

CAREN LOEBEL-FRIED demonstrates her linoleum block print process and signs prints and copies of Legend of the Gourd, her latest book about a story set in Ka`u, at Volcano Art Center Gallery in Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park tomorrow from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event is free, and park entrance fees apply.

NA`ALEHU MAIN STREET presents its original murder mystery play, The Hurricane, tomorrow at 4 p.m. at Ocean View Community Center. Attendees are asked to bring canned food equivalent to $10 or a check made out to Hawai`i Island Food Basket, with a notation in the top left corner stating Ocean View Pantry 551, for the same amount. For more information, call 929-7236 or email marge@hawaii.rr.com.