Feds directed to evaluate eruption’s damage to isle economy

  • USGS/HVO The ocean entry at the southern edge of the lava flow has expanded southwestward after a series of "ooze-outs" organized into an incipient channel.

The U.S. Senate passed legislation Tuesday instructing the federal government to evaluate the damage done by the Kilauea eruption to the Big Island’s economy.

In legislation written by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, the Department of the Interior was instructed to evaluate the damage caused by the eruption to the island’s federal infrastructure, its visitor industry and its overall economy.

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The provision, which was included in a bipartisan spending package, also asks the Department of the Interior to work with state and county officials on rebuilding to support local needs.

“It’s crucial that we understand how our communities and our local economy are being affected by the Kilauea eruptions and earthquakes,” Schatz said in a statement Tuesday. “This is one of many steps the federal government can take to help these communities.”

Final passage of the bill is expected at the end of the week.

Other efforts to alleviate the eruption’s impact are expected to take effect within a month, with a Chinese environmental company reportedly donating 35 prefabricated modular housing units to the county to temporarily resettle displaced Puna residents.

A letter from Mayor Harry Kim to the president of Guandong Huanbao Ecological Environmental Co. last week thanked the company for its “deep compassion.” Two of the units are expected within a month, with the remaining 33 to arrive later.

Meanwhile, the eruption continued Tuesday with little change. The lava flow front advanced south to within 500 feet of Pohoiki boat ramp in Isaac Hale Beach Park as of Tuesday afternoon.

Drivers are advised to remain cautious on Highway 11 between mile markers 28 and 32 because of potential road hazards brought about by near-perpetual seismic activity at Kilauea summit. Cracks and sinkholes in the road’s surface are possible.

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The Disaster Recovery Center in Keaau High School remains open six days a week from 8 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays.

Email Michael Brestovansky at mbrestovansky@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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