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Doctors to decide Wednesday when mayor can leave hospital

  • KIM

Doctors will decide Wednesday when Mayor Harry Kim will be able to leave the hospital.

Janet Snyder, the mayor’s spokeswoman, said the news was delivered Tuesday morning by Managing Director Wil Okabe, the county’s No. 2 executive and acting mayor, at a briefing for lava emergency workers at Hawaii County Civil Defense headquarters in Hilo.

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The mayor has been hospitalized since Saturday after suffering a mild heart attack, officially his sixth.

According to Snyder, Okabe told those assembled this is the longest period of time the mayor has been in the hospital that he can remember.

Snyder said Okabe reiterated the 78-year-old Kim “is doing OK.”

According to Snyder, 577 is now the official number of houses destroyed by lava from Kilauea volcano’s lower East Rift Zone eruption, which started on May 3.

Snyder said the official number is the number of homes verified destroyed by reconciling tax maps with aerial surveys, and the official number is what is given to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

She acknowledged that work of counting homes destroyed is ongoing and will likely go higher.

On June 11, Kim estimated lava has claimed at least 600 and perhaps as many as 700 homes.

Steve Brantley, Hawaiian Volcano Observatory’s deputy scientist in charge, said there are “no significant changes on fissure 8 or the flow,” Snyder said.

According to Snyder, fissure No. 6 displayed a “small amount of spatter” but scientists made no mention of other fissures producing lava.

Another summit explosion occurred at Halema‘uma‘u crater at 5:05 a.m. today.

“That followed about 15 hours of seismicity,” Snyder said. She said that “15 hours or thereabouts” of seismic activity seems to be a precursor scientists are using to predict when the summit explosions occur.

“Right now, the seismicity is very low. It’s building up, basically,” she said.

Snyder said the National Weather Service reported winds are still a “northeasterly transport air flow.” She said winds are projected to become east-southeasterlies at about 9 p.m. today. She said that “will push emissions north to South Hilo, the interior (and) Saddle Road.”

“We may see Pele’s Hair in Pahoa and as far (inland) as Hawaiian Acres as a result of these winds,” Snyder said.

She said tradewinds are forecast to return by Thursday and continue into next week.

Snyder said a new FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team is relieving the one that has been on the Big Island since May 8. She said Tom Fargione, who’s in charge of the outgoing team, had some encouraging parting words during Tuesday morning’s briefing.

“I’ve never seen a team as good as you guys,” Snyder quoted Fargione as saying. Fargione reportedly praised the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation’s management of the emergency shelters in Pahoa and Keaau.

Snyder said Fargione also noted the use of a drone to rescue people from the lava.

According to Snyder, Fargione promised “to get you what you need (but) not all that you want.”

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“We can’t make you whole but we can make you better,” she quoted Fargione as saying. He reportedly said those in the room during the briefing exemplified “the spirit and heart of this island.”

Email John Burnett at jburnett@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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