ARRL Deploying Ham Aid Kits to Hawaii to Assist in Possible Lava Flow Response. Post #4525.



ARRL Headquarters is deploying Ham Aid Kits to Hawaii as ARES volunteers stand ready to activate in the wake of the massive Puna volcanic lava flow that has been threatening some communities on the Big Island of Hawaii.  The lava originated from new “vents” in the Earth as a result of the Kilauea Volcano, which  began erupting  31 years ago. ARRL Pacific Section Manager Bob Schneider (AH6J), said Tuesday that while he doesn’t believe an ARES activation is imminent, lava flows can be unpredictable, and things can change rapidly.

Article excerpts:

Schneider says “Lava is a slow-moving disaster…it’s not like a volcano, where the thing just blows up.  It’s like a pot of soup.”

ARRL Emergency Preparedness Manager Mike Corey (KI1U) added that the Ham Aid kits destined for Hawaii include HF gear as well as VHF and UHF equipment.  Corey said “We’re deploying an HF kit–an IC-718 transceiver, a tuner, and a dipole–and a VHF/UHF kit.”  The latter includes a mobile transceiver and power supply as well as several handheld transceivers that have been programmed with local frequencies that may be needed before they’re shipped.  Corey stated that the Ham Aid kits are a resource available to ARRL section leadership to add capacity during a disaster or emergency response.

Schneider said that while there is no immediate need for the kits, “if they have it out there, and this thing changes, we’ll be prepared.  It’s better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it.”

Hawaii County Civil Defense said Kilauea continued to erupt at its summit as of Monday, although the more than 10-mile lava flow–or “tube”–under the greatest scrutiny halted its progress toward the sea on Tuesday–at least for the time being.  Authorities are also monitoring so-called “breakout” flows.  No homes have been affected so far, although the molten rock is causing vegetation to burn in its path.  the front of the Puna lava flow is estimated to be some 150 yards across at its widest point.

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie has issued a disaster declaration for the areas that are or may be affected by the lava flow.  Schneider and ARES members and officials have been keeping an eye on the situation.

Schneider said the best estimate for the lava to hit Highway 130 would be within 10 days.  Schneider added that Highway 130 is the primary commuter route for residents in several residential subdivisions that might be affected, including one that is home to some 20,000 people–what he called, “a pretty good chunk of population” overall.  The governor’s proclamation has permitted authorities  to open two alternative routes, in case Highway 130 has to be closed.

Schneider mentioned that “The town of Pahoa is in kind of a slow panic…if the lava comes down and goes right to the ocean, probably the only thing that won’t be affected will be cell phones.  Electric power and conventional telephone service will be out.”  In that scenario, should ARES be activated, Schneider said the volunteers’ likely role would be to relay healthe-and-welfare traffic from affected communities.


I have a deep interest in this development, since my new home is located in a subdivision approximately 5 miles from the slowly expanded flow front.  I have a scanner tuned to the NOAA frequency, Hawaii County Civil Defense, and the Hawaii Police Department, so I can keep abreast of any changes in the lava flow.  These are indeed exciting times.

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Until next time,

Aloha es 73 de Russ (KH6JRM).



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