Hawaii Island (East)

Lava-Related Brush Fire Claims Four Homes Near Kapoho

"This photo of the western margin of the lava flow at the oceanfront was taken Sunday. The western flow margin did not advance overnight, and remained approximately 0.1 mile from the Pohoiki Boat Ramp at Isaac Hale Beach Park this morning." Credit: USGS

"This photo of the western margin of the lava flow at the oceanfront was taken Sunday. The western flow margin did not advance overnight, and remained approximately 0.1 mile from the Pohoiki Boat Ramp at Isaac Hale Beach Park this morning." Credit: USGS

We are very sorry to hear about the continual loss of homes from the eruption -- this time caused by lava-related brushfires. 

From the Source:

Four houses were destroyed Saturday by a brush fire along Kilauea volcano’s lower East Rift Zone.

The houses were in the Halekamahina Road area off Highway 132 near Kapoho, according to Janet Snyder, spokeswoman for Mayor Harry Kim.

Hawaii County residents with losses as a result of the Kilauea eruptions and earthquakes have through Monday, Aug. 13, to register for disaster assistance with FEMA, which can be done at the DRC, weekdays 8 a.m.-6 p.m. and Saturdays, 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Registration can also be done online at DisasterAssistance.gov or by phone at 800-621-3362 or (TTY) 800-462-7585. Applicants who use 711 or Video Relay service may call 800-621-3362. The toll-free numbers are open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. seven days a week.

New Haihai Fire Station Blessed

"Dennis Onishi and Harry Kim untie the maile lei." Credit: Big Island Video News

"Dennis Onishi and Harry Kim untie the maile lei." Credit: Big Island Video News

Congratulations to Hawaii Fire Department, the Hilo community, Mayor Kim and the County Council, and all others involved in the building and blessing of the new Haihai Fire Station. As HFD Chief Darren Rosario, also a member of HWMO's Technical Advisory Committee, mentioned in his speech, please do stop by the new station if you are in the area. Firefighters are willing and able to answer your questions on fire safety, or just get to know who they are serving. 

From the Source:

The Hawaii County Fire Department actually began operating out of the new facility at the start of November, but the event on December 14 was the community’s chance to celebrate the finished project. The new fire station allows the firefighters to relocate from their outdated facility on Kawailani Street.

Fire Burns 20 Acres in Laupahoehoe Tuesday October 3

Google Maps view of Papaaloa Road and Oshiro Camp Road intersection where fire occurred on October 3.

Google Maps view of Papaaloa Road and Oshiro Camp Road intersection where fire occurred on October 3.

From the Source:

"Fire/Rescue crews responded to a 10:43 a.m. alarm Tuesday (Oct 3) to the Papaaloa Road and Oshiro Camp Road intersection for a brush fire in Laupahoehoe.

Crews found a brushfire in vacant land buring 10-12 foot tall grass. The fire rapidly spread due to gusty trade winds at 25-35 mph. By 12:30 p.m. the fire was under control and had burned about 20 acres."

Dry Year So Far for Big Island

"The flood channel that runs under the intersection of Kinoole and Mohouli streets in Hilo was dry Tuesday." Credit - Hollyn Johnson / Hawaii Tribune-Herald

"The flood channel that runs under the intersection of Kinoole and Mohouli streets in Hilo was dry Tuesday." Credit - Hollyn Johnson / Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Drier conditions, even on the wet side, means a higher potential for wildfire. You might live in the green, but when severe droughts occur, anywhere can be at risk for fire. Be prepared, have a plan, and stay vigilant using the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide and Wildfire Lookout!

From the Source:

"Hilo is on pace to have one of its drier years on record, and July’s rainfall totals brought little if any relief to drought-affected areas of the Big Island, according to the National Weather Service in Honolulu."

"'It’s been pretty dry up on the Hamakua Coast and down into the the leeward South Kohala district. They’re considered to be under severe drought as well as the interior section of the Big Island. The eastern side of Pohakuloa Training Area has been pretty dry. The western side has been getting some spotty rain, so some of the gauges there are pretty close to normal,' Kodama said Monday.

The most recent drought statement from the weather service said ranchers in leeward South Kohala 'have destocked pastures' due to 'very poor vegetation conditions.' It noted that pastures in Ookala, where Big Island Dairy operates, and in Paauilo were becoming dry, and a ginger farmer in Umauma reported stunted growth in his crops."

Park Officials Seek Witnesses to Volcanoes National Park Campground Fire

Credit: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

Credit: Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

We have already lost much of our native forests for various reasons, wildfire being one of the major contributors. We cannot lose any more of them. 

“'With a hot and dry summer upon us, we’re definitely at an increased risk for fire in the park and across the island,' said Hawaii Volcanoes National Park fire management officer Greg Funderburk. 'It’s important to remember that while parts of the island might be getting rainfall, other areas are very dry and quite susceptible to fire.'

"Fire officials at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park are seeking witnesses to a fire that burned about a quarter-acre of native koa and ohia forest behind a cabin at Namakanipaio Campground Tuesday afternoon."

"An investigation is underway. Witnesses and anyone with information about the fire are encouraged to call Park Dispatch at 808-985-6170. Callers may remain anonymous."

Hawaiian Birds Rapidly Colonize Young Restoration Forest

Hawai‘i ‘Elepaio. Credit: Kelly Jaenecke, USGS. Public domain.

Hawai‘i ‘Elepaio. Credit: Kelly Jaenecke, USGS. Public domain.

Restoring our forests has many positive outcomes, including bringing back rainwater to our parched landscapes and thus reducing wildfire risk. Native forests are also home to wildlife. We're excited to hear of the successful bird repopulation efforts of Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge!

We will have an exciting silent auction item -- one of many -- at the Firefighter Chili Cook-Off on August 26 to go bird watching at Puʻu ʻOʻo. 

From the Source:

"Researchers used bird survey data collected over 26 years at the refuge to document how a diverse community of birds responded to the nearly 30 years of restoration efforts on the refuge. Their analysis revealed that most bird species increased in number throughout the restoration area, with the greatest increases detected in areas closest to intact forest where the density and diversity of understory shrubs was greatest."

"As temperatures rise with climate change, the area where the transmission of avian malaria is hindered by cooler temperatures will shrink, meaning the restoration of high-elevation forests may be one of the most important conservation tools to protect Hawaii’s native birds.

'We have a clearer picture of how we can facilitate expansion of particular bird species into reforestation areas by creating particular plant communities; this will help us ensure that Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge can continue to be a stronghold for Hawaiian forest birds,' said Kendall."

Brushfire Threatens Homes in Puna, Residents Evacuated Wednesday

Puna may be one of the rainiest areas on Hawaii Island, but that does not mean that brushfires cannot happen there. In fact, a brushfire on Wednesday, July 5, threatened 5 homes forcing residents to evacuate. Uluhe ferns are known to burn and carry fires quickly. Make sure to remove dead leaves from them and provide at least 10 feet of spacing above and around them if they are near your home. More tips in the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide.

From the Source:

"Firefighters arrived to find a fire spreading in vacant lots along Iolani Street spreading mauka and makai due to gusts of trade winds. Crews worked to protect five homes along Cook and Kapiolani Streets as area residents were evacuated.

Crews had a difficulty fighting the fire due to heavy smoke reducing visibility to zero at times. Firefighters encountered Uluhe Ferns, Ohia Trees and unstable a‘a lava terrain while fighting the blaze. Tanker units were brought in to supply water as Chopper One did an aeria survey. Traffic was detoured to Diamond Head Drive and Aloha Road during firefighting operations."

Parched: Driest January on Record for Parts of West Hawaii

"Charred earth from the recent fire near Palamanui is seen along side of dry grass from the persisting drought in North Kona. (Laura Shimabuku/West Hawaii Today)"

What is on pace for the 2nd strongest El Nino on record is not good news for those worried about wildfire. The key take away is that even if your area is considered "wet side", when there is no rain, the rainforest can burn. 

Here's a news piece with quotes from our Executive Director, Elizabeth Pickett, and a long-time partner of ours, Jen Lawson, who directs the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative.

From the Source:

"The Pacific is experiencing what will likely pan out to be the second strongest El Nino on record, behind only 1997-98. True to pattern, a snuffing out of the normal trade wind pattern and its accompanying showers are following the El Nino. If the past is any indication and long-term predictions hold up, there may be no relief in sight through April."

"West Hawaii had a very wet summer, leading to high loads of vegetation which have now dried out, causing concern for fire management officials. In Waikoloa, expanses of invasive buffelgrass and fountain grass have become parched, said Jen Lawson, who directs the Waikoloa Dry Forest Initiative.

'We’ve had no precipitation at the forest in more than 12 weeks,' she said. 'Wildfire is what we are thinking most about now.”

Kodama said light winds have helped spare dry areas from fast-spreading fires. But that could change as winds pick up going into spring and conditions continue to dry out, he said.

Elizabeth Pickett, executive director of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, said her group will be stepping up its fire safety outreach in the face of the drought.

'We have a pretty high hazard out there; now is time to be proactive and really be aware of the fire issue,' Pickett said. 'We’re getting very concerned.'"

Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization Supports Formation of Firewise Communities in Hawaii

"According to the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, about 0.5% of Hawaii’s total land area burns annually, as much or more than the proportion of land are burned in any other US state. In Hawaii, 98% of wildfires are human caused."

We are extremely grateful to be a part of the Firewise Communities program and were highlighted for our efforts in January's National Fire Protection Association's (NFPA) Fire Break newsletter!

From the Source:

"Wildfire in Hawaii, like anywhere else, threatens the safety of firefighters, residents andhomes. It also causes damage to the air quality, which impacts human health, and contributes to soil erosion problems that can cause damage to sensitive coral reefs. One of the partners in Hawaii working to help lessen the loss due to wildfire in Hawaii is the Hawaiian Wildfire Management Organization (HWMO). They are a small nonprofit organization that has been working together with fire departments, the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife, communities and others to help develop Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) and Firewise Communities. The HWMO was officially founded in 2000 by a group of South Kohala/North Kona regional experts who wanted to create a non-profit organization to serve as an arm for the fire suppression and land management agencies to conduct prevention, pre-suppression, and post-fire work. They became incorporated as a 501(c)(3) non-profit in 2002. Since then, they have grown to not only address wildfire issues for all of Hawaii Island, but also the entire state and some of the Western Pacific (namely Yap, Palau, Guam).

According to Pablo Beimler, Coordinator with HWMO, "'Although we have a small staff, HWMO is continually able to accomplish a number of projects due to its extensive partnerships. We can't say it enough: by staying in communication with our partners on each project, and expanding partnerships where needed, they are able to ensure our projects stay grounded and effective.'"

"Pablo described other wildfire preparedness projects in which HWMO is involved. "We have a Firewise demonstration garden in Waikoloa Village, where we have a number of native, drought-tolerant plants growing strategically around a demo home to give community members an example of good defensible space practices. Our team has held a number of community events at the garden and have had a youth environmental empowerment group called the Malama Kai Ocean Warriors help be the ‘stewards’ of the garden. In terms of other youth outreach, we also go to numerous schools and youth programs to teach students about wildfire prevention and preparedness, including Firewise and Ready, Set, Go! principles. We also hold community wildfire preparedness workshops for various organizations/groups or for the general public where we give people a run-down on Firewise and Ready, Set, Go!."  

Crews Battle Brush Fire in Laupahoehoe

"COLIN M. STEWART/Tribune-Herald A Hawaii County rescue helicopter returns after making several water drops above the wildfire in Laupahoehoe Tuesday afternoon."

"COLIN M. STEWART/Tribune-Herald A Hawaii County rescue helicopter returns after making several water drops above the wildfire in Laupahoehoe Tuesday afternoon."

The Hamakua coastline is not typically known for its wildfire issues. However, during times of drought, which we are currently entering into due to El Niño, wet areas can burn. This might be a telling sign of things to come. Even if you live in a typically wet area, it's best to prepare for wildfires now rather than when it's too late. Find out more about resources that will help you prepare.

From the Source:

"Located in the mauka areas near the ends of Spencer Road and Kihalani Homestead Road, the fire had charred large patches of the hillside and appeared at one point to approach at least one home at the top of the hill near the end of Spencer Road, the source said. The firefighters managed to knock the blaze in that area down, however, using a pair of fire engines and a county helicopter outfitted with a large water bucket.

The helicopter was seen making its way down to a livestock pond in the area several times to refill the bucket and return to drop it on hot spots on the hillside."

"A four-wheel drive road between Kihalani Homestead Road and Spencer Road appeared to have acted as a natural fire break in a few spots, with areas mauka of the road burned black and smoldering, while makai fields appeared to remain untouched."

Fire Engine Donated to Hawaii CC Fire Science Students

"Hawai’i Community College Fire Science students and instructors from the Fire Science and Diesel Mechanics programs stand with the fire engine, donated recently by the Honolulu Fire Department. Back row: Matthew Winters, left, and Jacob Smith. Front row, left to right: Fire Science Instructor Jack Minassian, Kawai Ronia, Jayce Ah Heong, Michael Rangasan, and Diesel Mechanics Instructor Mitchell Soares. Hawai’i CC courtesy photo." (Credit: Big Island Now)

Congratulations to Jack Minassian, a long-time partner of HWMO, and all involved with the Fire Science program at Hawaii Community College. Thanks to Honolulu Fire Department donations, the Fire Science program will be able to provide hands-on learning experience for its students "as they prepare to enter the workforce." It's great to watch this program really grow every year!

From the Source:

“'This fire engine will be a great teaching tool,' said Hawai’i CC Fire Science Instructor ­Jack Minassian. 'For example, students in the fire hydraulics class will be able to practice providing proper water pressure and proper gallons per minute on a fire while using real equipment.'

Graduates of Hawai’i CC’s Fire Science program have been employed within federal, state, and local fire service agencies, according to Minassian."

Hawaii Firefighter Recruits Complete Training

Congratulations to the new class of Hawaii County Fire Department firefighters. Here's to a full year of rigorous training that included wildland fire training (and an Ready, Set, Go! Workshop by HWMO) and to the safety and wellbeing of our new service men/women.

Credit - Hawaii Tribune-Herald

Credit - Hawaii Tribune-Herald

From the Source:

"The class underwent 12 months of intensive instruction, classroom exercises and field work. The recruits received fire and rescue training that included a nationally recognized fire science curriculum, wild land fire training, rescue operations familiarization, aquatics competency certification and driver training."

"Training Capt. Darwin Okinaka and Recruit Training Officer Fire Rescue Specialist James Wilson spoke about the Hawaii Fire Department’s core values as well as stating that the duty of a firefighter is a great honor and privilege that should be earned, not given out as a liberty.

The 43rd firefighter class message was delivered by class president Mark Mochida.

'Training was not easy,' said Mochida, who thanked the chiefs, families, fellow firefighters and trainers. 'Life is going to shovel dirt on you, all kinds of dirt. Shake it off, take a step and learn from it.'"

Family's Spirit Still Strong After Fire

Recovering from a loss of one's home after a fire or any other natural disaster may be one of the most difficult things to come to terms with and overcome.

Even after the lava flow took their home of seven years, this inspiring family's focus towards the future and gratefulness for the strength and support of their ʻohana is a great reminder of what's important this holiday season.

From the Source: 

"A family whose life turned upside down when lava from Kilauea Volcano set fire to their home of seven years said despite the recent challenges, they'll be counting their blessings this Thanksgiving.

'We're gathering with friends and family and having a potluck, and we will be so thankful for the family here, our cousins and everybody in Kala­pana helping us out,' said Margaret Byrd, whose family was renting the home on Apaa Street that burned down from the lava flow on Nov. 10. 'Be thankful for another day.'"

Above: Credit - USA Today

Above: Credit - USA Today

El Niño Expected to Dry Out Island

West Hawaii Today examined the possibility for El Niño this year. We chimed in on what El Niño could mean for the islands in terms of wildfires:

From the Source: 

"The Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization is increasing outreach in the face of the possible dry conditions. Heavy fuel loads caused by the wet summer are cause for concern, said Pablo Beimler, education and outreach coordinator for the organization, which is based in Waimea. 

'A lot of wildfires happen in these drier periods after it’s been wet,' Beimler said. 'The fuel loads in West Hawaii are similar to when we had the big fires in Waikoloa in 2005 and 2007.'

Unlike the typically well-defined fire seasons on the mainland, wildfire is a year-round possibility on Hawaii Island.

'In a single day, you may have a wet morning and wildfire conditions in the afternoon,' Beimler said. 'It just changes so rapidly.'"

Above: "High rainfall in Kealakekua and Honaunau during May benefited area farmers. The Big Island can expect below average rainfall this winter, but forecasters say the island should escape severe drought, the National Weather Service said Friday." Credit - West Hawaii Today

Above: "High rainfall in Kealakekua and Honaunau during May benefited area farmers. The Big Island can expect below average rainfall this winter, but forecasters say the island should escape severe drought, the National Weather Service said Friday." Credit - West Hawaii Today

Input Needed for Community Wildfire Protection Plans

Front page of the West Hawaii Today featuring our recent CWPP meetings. Great article to read to learn about what CWPPs are all about. 

From the Source: 

"Work to reduce wildfire threat on Hawaii Island continued this week as a community meeting was held to generate concerns and solutions.

Feedback garnered Wednesday evening at Konawaena Elementary School will be used to produce an updated Community Wildfire Protection Plan for South Kona. It’s one of four plans being created for free by the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization. Other areas getting an updated plan are Volcano, Ka‘u and Ocean View. The North Kona plan will be developed in the near future.

Community Wildfire Protection Plans are authorized and defined in the Healthy Forests Restoration Act, which gives the public the opportunity to influence where and how agencies should work with communities in implementing fuel reduction projects and protecting resources from loss.

These plans are a prerequisite for federal funding for projects, such as building dip tanks and firebreaks, providing critical education, outreach and field training, getting fire equipment, and upgrading infrastructure and property. Such plans serve as a mechanism for community input and are key to identifying specific projects intended to mitigate fire risk and areas of concern in the wildland-urban interface, or WUI, said Ilene Grossman, Community Wildfire Protection Plans project manager."

"Residents have until March 1 to provide input on the draft plans and can do so by calling the organization at 885-0900 or emailing admin@hawaiiwildfire.org."

Above: "Federal, state, and county firefighters teamed together to suppress a wildland fire burning through ohia forest in Kealakekua mauka in late 2009 and early 2010." Credit - National Park Service/Al Aviles

Above: "Federal, state, and county firefighters teamed together to suppress a wildland fire burning through ohia forest in Kealakekua mauka in late 2009 and early 2010." Credit - National Park Service/Al Aviles

Hawaii Island Community Wildfire Protection Plan Meetings

Community Wildfire Protection Plan update meetings for the Big Island made it onto the front page of Hawaii 24/7:

From the Source: 

"Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization will hold community input meetings to update four Hawaii County Community Wildfire Protection Plans (CWPPs) for Volcano, Ka‘u, Ocean View, and South Kona communities.

Community input is critical to the CWPP process to determine priority wildfire concerns, needs, and action steps to better prepare and protect fire-prone areas from wildfires.

The CWPP update meetings will identify and prioritize projects to reduce the threat of wildfire to these communities."Community input is critical to the CWPP process to determine priority wildfire concerns, needs, and action steps to better prepare and protect fire-prone areas from wildfires."

Above: "Punaluu Brush Fire" Credit - Hawaii 24/7

Above: "Punaluu Brush Fire" Credit - Hawaii 24/7

VIDEO: Runaway Brush Fire Near Lava Flow Contained

From the Source: 

"Civil Defense message issued at 5:30 p.m. on Monday evening, with video of a fire chopper picking up water at the end of Kauakahi Place between Ainaloa and Pahoa for a drop on a runaway brushfire." 

Uploaded by Big Island Video News on 2014-10-07.

Above: "Photo of lava flow and brushfire taken Oct. 6 by Ena Media Hawaii / Paradise Helicopter. Residents of Ainaloa, Orchidland, Kea’au, even all the way up to Hilo, could smell the smoke, and in some cases, could feel the ash, for much of the day." Credit - Paradise Helicopters

Above: "Photo of lava flow and brushfire taken Oct. 6 by Ena Media Hawaii / Paradise Helicopter. Residents of Ainaloa, Orchidland, Kea’au, even all the way up to Hilo, could smell the smoke, and in some cases, could feel the ash, for much of the day." Credit - Paradise Helicopters

Airspace Over Flow Restricted; Lava Sparks Brush Fire as it Continues Advance

Hawaii Wildfire is on the verge of creating new fuelbreaks on the west side of the Big Island and plans to continue gathering additional funds for fuelbreaks across the state.

Fuelbreaks help slow down the spread of wildfires, but more importantly, they provide greater access for firefighters to contain, control and suppress a wildfire. Case and point with this recent wildfire sparked by the June 27 lava flow:

From the Source: 

"The June 27 lava flow sparked a brush fire as it continued its progress toward Pahoa on Monday.

Meanwhile, Civil Defense officials, in conjunction with the Federal Aviation Administration, have restricted the airspace above the leading edge of the flow in response to increased traffic of sightseers and media personnel.

Civil Defense Administrator Darryl Oliveira told reporters Monday afternoon there did not appear to be any threat to surrounding neighborhoods as a result of the runaway brush fire.

'It burned about 150 acres, it’s slowly moving in the north direction towards Ainaloa,' he said. 'But, we’ve already cut firebreaks in that area, and the fire department is on the scene with offroad vehicles watching the firebreak, just making sure we don’t have any embers jump across. There’s no threat to any communities.'

Located on the west, or mauka, side of Highway 130 between Pahoa and Ainaloa, the fire has been boxed in by firebreaks and is not anticipated to threaten any homes or businesses. However, the smoke generated by the fire could increase downwind or to the north of the fire in the areas of Ainaloa and Hawaiian Paradise Park, according to a county press release."

"The Hawaii Department of Health advises residents dependent on medical services, treatment, or supplies and who live in communities that may be cut off by the advancing lava flow to relocate outside the affected area to ensure continued access to necessary medical support. If the lava flow crosses Highway 130, medical services and supplies will be severely limited and emergency medical service response time may be significantly delayed."

Above: Credit - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Above: Credit - Hawaiian Volcano Observatory

Fire Engulfs Home in Nanawale Estates

Downed trees in post-Iselle Puna are still a major hazard, not only in terms of wildfire but also in terms of hampering access for all other emergencies. First responders are finding it difficult to respond to emergencies, including this fire in Nanawale that burnt down a house. "Crews had to cut down trees in order to get to the burning home," costing the crews precious minutes/seconds. Your kokua is still needed, including helping clear downed vegetation in these neighborhoods.

Mahalo for your kokua!

From the Source: 

"A fire has gutted a home in Nanawale Estates in the storm ravaged area of Puna on the Big Island. Fire officials say they received a call around 6 p.m., at the intersection of Flower and Forest street.

Witnesses say crews had to cut down trees in order to get to the burning home, but it eventually burned to the ground.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation, and it is unknown if there were any injuries.

The Red Cross is currently assisting the people who lived there."

Above: "Fire engulfs home in Nanawale Estates." Credit - Hawaii News Now

Above: "Fire engulfs home in Nanawale Estates." Credit - Hawaii News Now

Aerial Assessment Reveals Extensive Damage in Puna (VIDEO)

New aerial footage shows extent of damage in Puna - "big tall trees down in every direction." 

Massive trees on the ground not only pose a hazard currently but down the road, as well. A sudden extreme build-up of fuels on the ground poses a huge wildfire risk, especially once El Niño's extended drought season hits. 

Pay attention to your surroundings...is your area now a high risk area? Take action with your neighbors to clear dead and down trees before it becomes a major problem in the future. 

It will take a community effort to get through this, but continue to stay resilient and strong.  

From the Source: 

"A Hilo Army National Guard crew took Hawai'i County officials on a damage assessment flight Saturday afternoon and the destruction in lower Puna is extensive.

'It's a lot worse than we expected,' said John Medeiros, the Deputy Director of Environmental Management. 'Our priority is to open those arteries so we can get down to those areas where people are trapped,' Medeiros said, referring to the dozens of toppled albizia trees that are blocking roadways. The area is surrounded with the invasive tree, which Medeiros says grows tall rapidly and is very brittle. 'It's just like toothpicks breaking when it dries out. That's a devastating tree we have all over this area, that's why we had such a problem.'

Officials say Nanawale and Leilani Estate neighborhoods, along with coastal community Kapoho, appear to be the hardest hit and are their top priorities.

Access and communication are the two biggest obstacles right now.

Officials say Kapoho residents were completely trapped in their neighborhood until just after 11 a.m. Saturday when crews were finally able to clear one road up to the main highway. However, Government Beach Road along the coast is still shutdown.

'It's pretty devastating the amount of trees on the ground and the community the roads are really blocked. Across the islands, it's not devastated but I tell you there are some communities here that are devastated and that's what we need to consider,' said Major General Darryll Wong of the Hawai'i National Guard, who was onboard the Black Hawk flight."

Above: "Aerial view shows extensive damage in Puna from Iselle." Credit - Hawaii News Now

Above: "Aerial view shows extensive damage in Puna from Iselle." Credit - Hawaii News Now