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Friday, September 08, 2023

Kaʻū News Briefs, Friday, Sept. 8, 2023

Trojan Defense players swarm to make a tackle at Kamehameha School. See more below. Photo by Mark Peters

HELICOPTERS COULDN'T FLY TO MAKE WATER DROPS ON FIRES AUG. 8. Bulldozers couldn't stay ahead of the flames to make firebreaks, and it wasn't just on Maui. Hawai‘i County Fire Chief Kazuo Todd gave a report via Zoom on Thursday saying that the fires fought along the Kohala Coast on Aug. 8 were the toughest ever for firefighters. He noted that the winds were too high for helicopters to make water drops. Flames outpaced bulldozers.
    At the same time, two fires on that day were put out in Kaʻū by local firefighters. Todd credited the success of putting out seven Hawai‘i Island fires on Aug. 8 to county firefighters around the island and also to volunteer fire companies.

Hawai‘i County Fire Chief Kazuo Todd said that
Hawai‘i Island is the only county in the state with
volunteer firefighters, who along with county,
National Park and military assistance helped 
quell the fires of Aug. 8.
    He said that Hawai‘i is the only county in the state with volunteer firefighters, which vastly increases the ability to fight fires. He said this county has more firefighting resources than any other Neighbor Island and is just short of O‘ahu with its 44 fire stations.
    The Hawai‘i Island Fire Chief also credited the state Department of Forestry & Wildlife, National Park Service, and U.S. military's fire department at Pōhakuloa Training Area. He said they all contributed to the success in quelling the Aug. 8 fires on Hawai‘i Island.
    By the end of Aug. 8, one big warehouse was destroyed near Mauna Kea beach and guests at the hotel there were told to shelter in place. No residences nor visitor accommodations burned down but seven buildings were damaged. Residential communities just north of Kawaihae were evacuated.
    Todd reported wind gusting 82 mph in Kawaihae in the late afternoon of Aug. 8, plus gusts above 50 mph in South Kohala. He said wind pushed around the firefighters, some of them holding onto the fire trucks to keep them from falling. He said the high winds made it difficult to keep straight water hoses going to the fires. He said the fires in Kohala were probably electrical and not arson or other cause, but final determination is yet to be made.

FRIDAY, SEPT. 8 MARKED ONE MONTH AFTER WILDFIRES TORE THROUGH LĀHAINĀ AND UPCOUNTRY Maui. On Thursday, Sen. Mazie Hirono took to the U.S. Senate floor to give an overview, in remembrance of those who lost their lives. She highlighted the federal government’s response, and reiterated her commitment to fighting for resources needed for recovery.
    “This disaster did not simply impact a collection of numbers or statistics, it impacted a community of people, tight-knit and proud—business owners, who served as stewards of family-owned shops and restaurants passed down through generations; immigrants who came to Maui in search of a better life for themselves and their families; firefighters, who raced into horrific, toxic conditions to try and save the town they loved, even as many of their own homes burned to the ground mere miles away; and so many more who called Lāhainā home,” said Hirono.
Hawai‘i Sen. Mazie Hirono took to the U.S. Senate floor on Thursday to ask for more help for 
victims of the firestorm disaster in Lahaina and Upcountry Maui. Image from C-Span

    Hirono also condemned the spread of disinformation on social media, saying, “Mr. President, at a time of grief and loss, residents have been subjected to disinformation on social media, likely coordinated by foreign government entities, to discourage residents from reaching out to FEMA for disaster assistance and disinformation that sowed distrust in the federal government,” Hirono said, “It is an all-hands-on-deck effort to combat this kind of disinformation and make sure survivors can access federal support.”
    Hirono emphasized "the robust response of the Federal Family of Agencies—including FEMA, SBA, and dozens of others—in the days following the fire. Within days of the fires starting, FEMA—working with the governor, mayor, and local entities—was able to get thousands of survivors into hotel rooms, Airbnbs, and other short-term shelters. To date, more than $50 million in federal assistance to individuals has already been approved,” She pointed out that “Federal personnel have also been critical to the search and rescue efforts, coming from around the country to help search through the rubble and identify the remains of those lost.”
   Hirono noted that "initial estimates suggest the fires destroyed nearly 3,000 structures in Lāhainā, almost 90% of which were residential. It also leveled roughly 700 businesses on and around Lāhainā’s historic Front Street. Tragically, the fires have claimed 115 lives to date, with some 385 people still unaccounted for. These numbers are devastating and reflect the pain and anguish Hawai‘i is feeling.
   She also pointed to Lāhainā's history. "As the one-time capital of the Kingdom of Hawai‘i, Lāhainā holds great cultural and historic significance for the Native Hawaiian community. For some families, their roots in Lāhainā date back more than a century, with homes passed down from generation to generation. Others came from elsewhere, captivated by Lāhainā’s beauty and charm. And before the fires, Lāhainā was a bustling seaside town that welcomed thousands of visitors every month. But in mere moments, all of that was destroyed as 80 miles-per-hour winds, fueled by a hurricane 500 miles away, propelled the fire through the town with unimaginable speed and fury.
    "The devastation is difficult to put into words, as is the trauma this community is experiencing. Front Street, once vibrant with the sounds of music and revelers in the air, is now eerily quiet—the only sound to be heard is often the clanging of twisted metal in the wind. At the hotels where survivors are staying, I met parents afraid to send their children to school, not wanting them out of their sight. I met a woman who escaped the fire with just a backpack of belongings—a backpack she now takes everywhere with her, refusing to take it off her back. And I met hotel workers and others, especially a health worker who said that, weeks after the fires, some residents and workers were so traumatized, they didn’t even want to come out of their rooms."
    Hirono said that initial estimates calculate the damage to property alone from these fires is upwards of $5 billion—estimates for rebuilding Lāhainā are more than double that. "Rebuilding will take time, resources, and a continuity of effort. That’s why I’m so grateful for the strong response of the full family of federal agencies—more than 25 of which are on the ground on Maui with over 1,000 personnel. From FEMA and SBA, to HHS, HUD, DOD, and so many others, the federal family responded with speed to meet the immediate needs of those impacted." she said.
    Within days of the fires starting, said Hirono, FEMA—working with the governor, mayor, and local entities—was able to get thousands of survivors into hotel rooms, AirBNBs, and other short-term shelters. "To date, more than $50 million in federal assistance to individuals has already been
approved. But we know that this is just the beginning. Federal personnel have also been critical to the search and rescue efforts, coming from around the country to help search through the rubble and identify the remains of those lost."
    Hirono noted that when President Joe Biden visited last month, he made a commitment that the federal government would be there for as long as it takes to help Lāhainā recover and rebuild as the community envisions. "The $4 billion in additional FEMA funding the President requested late last week is an important down payment on that promise. This funding will help ensure FEMA has the resources it needs to continue its critical disaster relief work—not just on Maui, but in other communities impacted by disasters all across our country. I hope that it will pass with strong bipartisan support, as has long been the case for disaster relief funding. But we know, as I said before, this is just the beginning." 

Trojan. Photo Joy Marie Ridgely
KAʻŪ TROJANS TRAVELLED TO KAMEHAMEHA'S HOME TURF in Kea'au on Thursday. The Warriors beat Kaʻū 49 to six. 
    The next game for the Trojans is next Saturday, Sept. 16 at home, playing the Honoka‘a Dragons. It is the first of three weekly home games on Saturdays at 1 p.m.
     Key stats to date for this season for Trojan Offense include Adahdiya Ellis-Reyes completing 31 of 69 passes for 611 yards, with five interceptions and seven touchdowns.
    In Receiving, TJ Kuahuia-Faafia made 19 catches for 368 yards had six touchdowns. Ocean Nihipali-Sesson made 15 catches for 190 yards and one touchdown.
    In Rushing, Ocean Nihipali-Sesson racked up 60 carries for 269 yards and two touchdowns. Adahdiya Ellis-Reyes made 29 carries for 124 yards.
      For Defense, La‘a Kajiwara-Ke made 23 tackles, Dominic Nurial-Dacalio 22, Vladamir Fedoruk 16, Ocean Nihipali-Sesson 15, Adahdiya Ellis-Reyes 13.
    Keaka McDonnell made two interceptions and Jaestin Karasuda one.
Kaʻū Trojans traveled to Kea‘au on Thursday to take on the Kamehameha Warriors.
Photo by Mark Peters

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THE TILTMETER IS THE FOCUS OF VOLCANO WATCH this week, the column written by USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory research geophysicist Ingrid Johanson. 
     Measuring how a volcano deforms in response to moving magma is one of the cornerstones of volcano monitoring. Instrumentation includes a number of newer, satellite-based methods but another important instrument has been around a lot longer: the tiltmeter.
    Tilt data was the first geodetic data collected by the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory and continues to be incredibly important both for monitoring and basic research in volcano behavior.
    In the early 20th century, scientists were only beginning to recognize that volcanic eruptions (and earthquakes) were accompanied by “topographic changes” (as they were called at the time). In Japan, one of the forebearers of seismology, Dr. Fusakichi Omori, realized that the boom arm on his seismometer was affected by ground tilt and that this annoyance was important data.
    In 1917, Dr. Thomas Jaggar began tracking tilt changes at Hawaiian volcanoes. At first, by looking at the deflections of the HVO’s Omori and Bosch-Omori seismometers. Later, by constructing specially designed “clinoscopes.” These provided a rough idea of the amount of tilt over the span of a day to a week.
Graph of tilting at Uēkahuna bluff—at the summit of Kīlauea—in a direction toward and away from Halemʻaumʻau, collected by a water tube tiltmeter (black) and an electronic tiltmeter (grey). Major intrusions and eruptions are marked by blue and pink arrows respectively. USGS plot
    In the 1950s, HVO scientist Dr. Jerry Eaton designed an improved tiltmeter using water. This apparatus provided a precise tilt measurement to be used to track daily or even hourly tilt. The “water tube tiltmeters” allowed HVO scientists to track the movement of Kīlauea’s summit through several eruptions, providing a continuous record of inflation and deflation.
A water tube tiltmeter: The tiltmeter is read by looking into the portal on
each pot and adjusting the sight until two pins appear to touch. In fact, one of
the pins is a reflection, so having the pins almost touch establishes the
 exact water level within the pot. The difference in water level gives the tilt,
 and repeated measurements give changes in tilt over time. USGS photo
   The water tube tiltmeter consists of three “pots” of water connected by tubes such that the water can freely flow between them. One pot is placed in the center, and the other two are placed east and north of the center pot. The water in the tubes will always seek to be level, but when the ground tilts and moves the pots up or down, it will look like the water level is moving down or up. By reading the depth of the water in each pot, one can work out how much the ground has tilted since the last reading.
    Water tube tilt data was especially valuable because it could be collected regularly to form a continuous time series. This means data was collected whether it seemed important at the moment or not. This kind of continuous record facilitates discoveries that wouldn’t be possible if data was only collected during eruptions.
    In particular, the water tube tiltmeters showed cycles of steep inflationary tilt between eruptions and then sudden deflation as eruptions drained magma chambers. However, once Puʻuʻōʻō began erupting on Kīlauea’s middle East Rift Zone in 1983, these cycles became much more subdued.
    In the early 1970s, electronic tiltmeters began to be installed around Kīlauea. These instruments are installed in boreholes about 16 feet (5 meters) deep, such that they are protected from the weather, and can provide tilt measurements down to a fraction of a microradian every minute.
    After the end of the Puʻuʻōʻō eruption in 2018, the character of tilt at Kīlauea’s summit
changed again. Electronic tiltmeters began to record steep inflationary tilt, not too different from the rates observed by the water tube tiltmeter in the 1950s–1970s. Major eruptions, similar to Kīlauea Iki or Maunaulu—which resulted in large summit deflations—have not occurred recently, but the similarity of the current records to those from the 1950s-1970s is yet another sign that Kīlauea is not too different now from how it was before the 2018 eruption.
    This means that the data collected, and the lessons learned about Kīlauea’s plumbing, are still applicable today. Scientists can still use Kīlauea’s past behavior to make forecasts about future behavior and test out new ideas for what may have happened in the past.
    For example, currently, the tiltmeter at Uēkahuna Bluff (UWE) is not showing major tilt changes, but another tiltmeter south of Kīlauea’s caldera (SDH) has shown a steep increase over the past couple weeks. By looking back at past records, scientists recognize that this is likely due to magma accumulation in a South Caldera reservoir, which occurs intermittently; most recently in 2015 and 2021.
    The long and faithful recording of tilt at Kīlauea gives scientists a boost to understanding current processes and could facilitate new discoveries about the past.­ 
    Volcano Activity Updates; Kīlauea is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert level is ADVISORY. Over the past week, elevated earthquake activity continued in an area south of Kīlauea’s summit caldera. Kīlauea summit tiltmeters suggest that the area south of the caldera is inflating—independent of the usual deformation source inside the caldera. Within the caldera, there has been minor net inflation over the past week. A sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission rate of approximately 75 tonnes per day was measured on August 24.
   Mauna Loa is not erupting. Its USGS Volcano Alert Level is at NORMAL.
   Webcams show no signs of activity on Mauna Loa. Seismicity remains low. Summit ground deformation rates indicate slow inflation as magma replenishes the reservoir system following the recent eruption. SO2 emission rates are at background levels.
   No earthquakes were reported felt in the Hawaiian Islands during the past week.

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5000 in the mail, 2,500 on the streets.