Congress approves $4.8M to help with new HVO office

  • HAWAII VOLCANOES NATIONAL PARK photo Staff remove a seismograph exhibit in June at Jaggar Museum in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory offices are next door.

The U.S. House of Representatives approved $4.8 million in federal funds Tuesday to support the opening of a new office for the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory on Hawaii Island.

The proposal, which was included in an amendment to the 2019 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, which was approved Tuesday, would provide the funding to the U.S. Geological Survey, which operates HVO.

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The money will help HVO staff relocate to a new office after their previous office, located within Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, sustained heavy damage after prolonged seismic activity and was indefinitely closed.

According to a statement from U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, D-Hawaii, HVO staff have been working out of classrooms or remotely since abandoning their old office.

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“The USGS officials responsible for keeping Hawaii and our neighbors aware of earthquakes and eruptions have had their work curtailed by seismic activity that severely damaged their offices at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory,” Hanabusa said in a statement. “With the ongoing Kilauea eruption, their work to inform and help maintain public safety has never been more important. The destruction and unpredictable nature of the eruption means government, the community and first responders need accurate, detailed information to adequately plan and prepare.”

The amendment to the bill was co-sponsored by U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, and Don Young, R-Alaska.

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