On the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard praised two Hawaii County officials for their “incredible leadership” dealing with the ongoing slow-moving lava flow disaster on Hawaii’s Big Island.
Gabbard, who represents all of the state of Hawaii outside of Honolulu's urban core, recognized Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi and Civil Defense Director Darryl Oliveira for their work to prepare their community for the Kilauea volcano lava flow that started on June 27 and has been advancing on—and recently stalled outside—the town of Pahoa in the Puna area of the Big Island.
“I want to take this opportunity to highlight two courageous leaders who’ve been the heart of a very strong, resilient community who face an uncertain future as the Kilauea lava flow continues slowly and steadily toward their homes, their businesses and their community,” said Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard on the floor of the House of Representatives. “Hawai‘i County Mayor Billy Kenoi and Hawai‘i County Civil Defense Director Chief Darryl Oliveira have shown incredible leadership not only in response to this, but also in response to Hurricane Iselle and Tropical Storm Ana, and now for nearly five months, managing this slowly creeping lava flow threatening Pahoa.
“All three of these natural disasters have been punishing on this community of Puna, whose residents continue to unite and show optimism even with this uncertain future. Billy and Darryl’s tireless work and strong leadership has kept people safe, informed and prepared, even as Mother Nature, through Madam Pele, runs her course. Mahalo to Mayor Kenoi and Chief Oliveira! We stand ready as your partners to support the community we both serve, and we are grateful for your unwavering commitment to them.”
The slow-moving disaster threatens to cut through Pahoa, dividing the community and cutting off a state highway. Hawaii County officials have been preparing emergency alternative routes in case the lava blocks the state highway.