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Lava flow in Hawaii threatening homes, commercial activity

A flow of lava in Hawaii could potentially destroy homes, businesses and some travel infrastructure if its path continues according to projections. Local ABC affiliate KITV reported the lava, coming from the Pu'u O'o vent on the state's namesake island, is moving closer to both a major commercial business site called Pahoa Marketplace as well as State Highway 130, an important arterial road. The distance from the commercial area was just 680 yards on Dec. 30, while the lava flow was still about a half mile from the highway. There is certainly a buffer zone currently extant between the structures and the lava, but local experts say there's no way of knowing which direction the lava will move as it continues to exit the vent.

Lava is a unique and dangerous threat to businesses in areas with volcanic activity

Many homeowners plan on staying, despite probable path
The Pacific Business News reported that, based on a survey conducted by The Hawaii Tribune-Herald, a large majority of people who own homes and property that may be in the path of the lava flow are planning to remain in place. The lava has been moving slowly but relatively steadily toward homes that 72 percent of potentially affected residents say they won't evacuate unless the lava begins to physically destroy the homes. About 14 percent were undecided when it came to an early evacuation plan and just 7 percent were actively exploring options to leave the area.

Army offering assistance to some civilians
Federal civilian employees are being offered emergency assistance if they live in the path of the lava through a program called the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund, according to a press release from the Army. Both grants and loans are available to affected federal employees. The potential for the complete destruction of homes in the path of the lava remains a distinct possibility.

Businesses need to be aware of potential threats
Lava is a unique threat in that its destructive potential is very high, but - except in the case of explosive volcanic eruptions - it moves very slowly and sometimes in a predictable path in most cases. Companies that have assets in areas where volcanic activity is a fact of life need to have the right tools in place to boost situational awareness and monitor potential dangers. While structures may be damaged or destroyed by lava, organizations that have a forewarning system in place can remove valuable assets from those buildings and keep employees safe as well.


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