I have lived in Pahoa, Hawaii, for the past 24 years. I graduated from Pahoa high school and now work there. The Hawaii Volcano Observatory site and the local county civil defense updates are my go-to sites but I drive past the flow on my daily commute. A lot of lives will be changed by this and it is some interesting times out here. The national news has been putting out some misinformation and I'd like to give folks the opportunity to ask questions about it.

Edit: Not sure what to provide as proof but here's my driver's license

Another Edit: Good site with up to date news and videos

Another other edit: I will be back on later tonight to answer more questions! Thanks for helping this situation be heard Reddit!

Super neato bonus edit: Holy spam, front page! I'll be back in the morning to get back to as many of you as possible! I'm so glad people find this interesting! CNN, get yo' facts straight!

Obligatory front page edit: Thank you SO much everyone! I am still here and trying to get to questions! I want to mention for those who are asking about helping - The Red Cross is here helping if you want to donate to them, but I personally want to plug Aloha Ilio! Aloha Ilio is a network of volunteers who foster abandoned/unwanted dogs and find forever homes for them. As a result of the flow many people are moving and unable to keep their pets and abandoning them. Aloha Ilio volunteers take dogs in to their homes and commit to keeping them until they can house them with a new owner. Please consider donating to them or adopting a doggie! Here is their site but they are very active on facebook.

Mahalo again so much for reading! We received very little attention after Hurricane Iselle earlier this year and no FEMA funding for a devastated community that was out of power for weeks. It is important that people know what is happening and I thank you for your interest and aloha!

Comments: 996 • Responses: 48  • Date: 

hillsfar300 karma

Have you ever wrapped sweet potato or taro and put it next to a lava flow and come back an hour later to retrieve it for lunch?

the_glass_gecko556 karma

Nah. Ain't nobody got time for that/sulphur smell/offending Pele

jasonskjonsby144 karma

As lead Moderator of /r/Hawaii, I will verify you as a local, and regular contributor to /r/Hawaii.

the_glass_gecko32 karma

uhhh which observatory? How you know me brah? Thanks though otherwise - I do frequent that sub. Feel free to PM me.

LadySiren19 karma

Late to the party but wanted to drop in and wish you well. My late parents' final home was in Hawaiian Beaches. I understand that the flow isn't threatening that neighborhood yet and I hope Pele will spare it this time. I'd like to take my kids home one day and show them Grandma and Grandpa's old house.

I always loved Pahoa so I'm hoping everyone stays safe there. Good luck to you.

the_glass_gecko32 karma

Much mahalos!!! Hawaiian Beaches is unfortunately in a bad spot but hopefully it skirts it... keep following the progress :\ if you like I could send you a pic of the house at least! PM me.

LadySiren7 karma

That's so sweet to offer. I'd be happy to PM you the address but don't go out of your way, especially if it means getting in harm's way.

the_glass_gecko7 karma

Nah, my cousin's live down there so I go there often and it's not threatened at this time.

nl_fess215 karma

Howzit brah?

the_glass_gecko319 karma

Small kine hot ovah hea

Oslllll58 karma

You like sample some of that musubi bra?

PussyWagon696941 karma


moloaa11 karma

Ho guy small kine bunk deals da lava

the_glass_gecko7 karma

brah stay all pilikoi ovah hea, I be all like eh pele no make trouble, no hanaino us

MalaclypseTheEldar181 karma

How is it currently affecting your life?

the_glass_gecko334 karma

The main issue is that it looks like it will cross the highway and cut off access to this town, which thousands of people commute to and from daily. Temporary alternate roads have been built but the commute will become very difficult. I live on the north side of the flow but work on the south side, so I may need to find another job. My mom lives on the south side so I worry for her - people on that side face threats to water and power and access to goods. A lot of people are relocating.

Specifically - I work for a program at the school as a mentor for at-risk youth. We had only just finished the first quarter of the school year and last Wednesday started a brief (10 day) hiatus to reorganize all the students - all students north of the flow are being transferred to other schools, and all south are being consolidated into one campus. So all schedules, for students and teachers, are being redone. As for my program, I will restart with a new cohort when students come back, and progress is lost for all the students I lost. I am not sure I will want to keep this job if the commute proves to be too difficult.

tuckertucker284 karma

as someone who lives in Toronto, it blows my mind that people might have to find a new job because of a lava flow. We just call in the army if it snows an inch.

Kritical02142 karma

We should just funnel the lava to Toronto. Then you won't need the army.

the_glass_gecko122 karma

the_glass_gecko16 karma


dscopes92159 karma

Maybe a little off the topic proper but…. Pele is the Hawaiian patron deity of volcanoes… As a religion studies student, I am curious- Does your town or surrounding area have any mythos or folk tales regarding Pele and the volcanic activity on the island?

the_glass_gecko325 karma

This is something I think about often. It is an interesting topic. There is definitely a local knowledge of Pele - legends, stories, etc. A lot of locals view the flow as a blessing from her - she is coming to our town, and part of the lack of preventative action is due to local outcry to welcome her respectfully and not interfere with her actions.

I find this interesting because a lot of these same people will then turn around and say they're praying for Pahoa, etc... how can you pray to a Christian God from the people that overthrew your kingdom and asks that you don't worship another God, then turn around and pay homage to your native Goddess? I think people are just looking for explanations and comfort and find it with Pele.

TL;DR: Yes, Pele is a very, very significant part of this.

dscopes9276 karma

Wow thank you so much, incredible reply… It's amazing how in the face of modern hustle and bustle (commuting to work, traveling) there are still some who see this powerful act of nature not as a hinderance but as a blessing, the goddess embodied in the lava flow.

Also a revealing bit about the Hawaiian colonial struggles… How can you pray to the God of the colonizers and conquerors and while also honoring the native deities? I think you are probably right… a means of comfort and maybe even a longing for a deeper connection to the native land and and it's mythos.

Be safe but also enjoy this force of nature!

the_glass_gecko93 karma

Thanks so much for being interested! Everyone is safe because the flow moves slowly and we have plenty of time to evacuate. It is pretty amazing - sometimes the sky glows at night and people can see it from their homes. But I hope people allow themselves to grieve as well, and don't feel pressure to just accept Pele. The ugly side of it is sometimes she is used as justification, almost an ethnic cleansing thing. But mostly like I said - just giving people comfort, I think.

Happy to share, thanks for asking again!

corzmo14 karma

Could you explain what you mean by the ugly side of it and ethnic cleansing?

the_glass_gecko21 karma

I've heard some comments about Pele "cleaning house." Pahoa doesn't have the best reputation - it's a lower income community with a healthy hippie population, but damn, it's my home and there are a lot of good people here with big hearts and lots of Aloha. I just don't like people playing the religion card as ignorant acceptance of catastrophes... to shoot down even a discussion of trying to save things from the flow due to some deity makes me hang my head.

Edit: A lot of people find comfort in thinking of Pele; having an explanation for this tragedy, and they leave it at that. The ones that say ugly things like this are the vocal minority.

br1ckd17 karma

I find this interesting because a lot of these same people will then turn around and say they're praying for Pahoa, etc... how can you pray to a Christian God from the people that overthrew your kingdom and asks that you don't worship another God, then turn around and pay homage to your native Goddess? I think people are just looking for explanations and comfort and find it with Pele.

Do you think it has something to do with how much Hawaiian culture was destroyed by the missionaries? I'm not Hawaiian, but I grew up in Hawaii, and it seems like so much of the culture (religion, language, etc) has been lost that they can't go back to the old ways, but they still cling to what they can remember because it's all they have. I had a professor at UH who worked on rediscovering the language from old newspapers that were printed after the missionaries created a written Hawaiian language but before the push for everyone to speak English. It's sad how much of the culture has been lost forever.

the_glass_gecko6 karma

It's very tragic. I haven't thought so far as to why people would choose to worship both, because it conflicts itself so clearly, it baffles me. It's a beautiful culture and I've considered taking classes in the language. But I don't follow any religion. Socially and culturally, Pele is very significant, more so in my life than any other deity, I suppose.

Amelaclya125 karma


the_glass_gecko76 karma

There is a looooot more to it than that. But I have heard many obake (ghost) stories of her appearing as an old woman hitch hiking and you're supposed to give her a ride. Sometimes she has a white dog, sometimes she lights a cigarette with her hand.

dscopes9229 karma

I have also read about "Pele's hair," as well… Long and thin strands of volcanic glass that that resemble hair!

the_glass_gecko51 karma

Yep, and Pele's Tears, little ball-bearing-esque hardened lava droplets.

Mitchel109134 karma

Are you posting photos? First hand view would be awesome...especially if you continue to upload

the_glass_gecko120 karma

I personally haven't taken any - the flow is currently on private property and access is restricted. But this site has a good slideshow up.

Frosty0999999856 karma

How are you doing?

the_glass_gecko115 karma

It's surreal feeling. Sometimes angry, inspired, hopeful, worried, confused, anxious, or slap-happy about it. It's my home, and it could just be wiped away. As well as not being able to access some of my favorite places, and my childhood home. There's definitely an air of defeat and despondency.

petit_cochon38 karma

That sounds really rough. Katrina survivor here; I feel your pain in a way. It's very hard to be helpless before nature and see your home changed forever.

the_glass_gecko4 karma

It is :( glad you're okay and so sorry for what you went through. We got rocked by a hurricane a few months back and it was so unexpected, but recovery kind of gave us a trial run in dealing with this stuff. Now we're literally waiting to watch our town burn. Thanks for your comment :)

CTU49 karma

Have you ever just thrown anything into the lava to watch it burn?

the_glass_gecko24 karma

I personally have not - the local mindset of that is that it is tacky and disrespectful of Pele. I'm not religious but I was raised with that culture and I do agree with that sentiment.

SLUnatic8542 karma

So they really dont try to redirect it? it seems like you were saying, like it wouldn't be so hard. dig a trench. dirt walls. what can it burn through and what might make it change direction? Would they redirect it if it approached like a school or homes? or is that against a culture?

-Thanks :)

edit for repeat comment. sorry just read a similar comment. maybe just answer the would they redirect it for a... (school/house/slow old lady) part haha

the_glass_gecko72 karma

It does go against the culture to attempt to divert it - that would be telling Pele, the fire Goddess, that she is wrong [or something]. No efforts have been made to redirect. It disappoints me because I think we could learn a lot experimenting with it, seeing as it's headed straight for town anyway... I think a trench would be best, personally. A wall or barricade it can pool behind then go up and over.

fuenti140 karma

Hello, you mentioned that the lava might reach the highway. If lava (once it's cool and safe) affects highways and major roads, do they remove the lava to reopen roads or creat new roads around the affected areas? Thanks for the AMA and I hope you are safe!

the_glass_gecko95 karma

There is no removing lava once it's hardened. They can go over it, years after it's cooled and hardened. It is too brittle and remains warm for quite a while after the flow. Currently they are working on access roads from both sides of the flow - one through jungle, and one over older flows. Both will of course increase commute time significantly. Besides this, the flow doesn't necessarily stop once it's reached the coast - it could continue indefinitely.

You're welcome! Thanks for asking! Everyone is safe, it's just some difficult big life changes.

MortalJason33 karma

How close can you get towards the lava before it is too hot to approach?

the_glass_gecko79 karma

Depends - fresh from the caldera, the average joe doesn't get to do that, but I imagine you'd need some distance. Surface flows like this are often open to the public if the terrain is safe otherwise, and people walk right up to it. It's advisable to wear hiking shoes with sewn on rather than glued on soles because the glue can melt. It still feels quite warm even some time after hardening. But standing next to a surface flow feels like standing near a campfire, essentially. I've done it many times. However, this flow is inaccessible to the public, for now.

MortalJason32 karma

I assume if you step in the flow with boots on your feet will melt off, right?

the_glass_gecko239 karma

Yes. I would advise against stepping in lava.

Erzherzog49 karma

Do you have any source for this? Any lava professionals to back this up?

the_glass_gecko161 karma

I will have to get back to you with some peer-reviewed burnt-foot citations.

Kayniaan31 karma

How fast is the flow moving?

the_glass_gecko76 karma

Some days it doesn't move at all, other days it can move a few yards/hour or even a hundred yards in a day. Depends on source flow and topography.

Edit: It is the smoother faster pahoehoe flow, not the rolling crumbly a'a.

two_off28 karma

Other than altering people's lives and blocking roads, what damage has this new flow caused?

the_glass_gecko41 karma

Crossed an access road to our dump, and burned down a storage shed. But headed for the town main road, more homes, and the highway.

Forsaken2326 karma

But headed for the town main road, more homes, and the highway

I figured they would "create" a pathway for it. I clearly know nothing about lava, but I would assume that its a possibility.

the_glass_gecko38 karma

Essentially, it's my belief that digging a trench would be the most effective way to attempt to divert it. So - creating a path is something that should be discussed. But due to cultural sensitivities, and maybe no prior successful diversion attempts, nothing has been done.

PaprikaGirl21 karma

What kind of cultural sensitivities come into play when it comes to this situation? How could they get in the way?

the_glass_gecko54 karma

If you divert it you're telling Pele, the fire goddess, that her path is wrong, which is offensive. In a nutshell. Any discussions about diversion were quickly thwarted by the cultural card.

See this video around the 5:50 mark. Surely there are better, more dramatic solutions we could come up with today than the bulldozers she's speaking of.

sunflower_sungoddess26 karma

You said that the national news has been putting out misinformation? What misinformation, and what is the right information?

the_glass_gecko84 karma

At one point they referred to us as "villagers"... another time I saw that the town consists of 800 people. Not many people live in the town as far as being ON the main road, but the citizens of the neighborhoods surrounding the town are in the tens of thousands. Also I have heard about silly puns being made which seems rather offensive.

HiloReign15 karma

A few weeks ago there was a thread in r/hawaii where USA Today had posted a video with the headline "Lava flows near Honolulu subdivision"

the_glass_gecko6 karma


Shunshundy24 karma

Has this ever happened to your town before? It may be a stupid question, I know it isn't something that happens often, but I was wondering has it ever happen in your town before in your lifetime or is this a completely new experience?

the_glass_gecko27 karma

The Kalapana flow occurred just before I moved to the area as a young kid. A lot of people remember it and a few friends of mine are from that area. This is different because Kalapana was already more or less at the end of the highway, whereas Pahoa is a hub, and the flow wiped out Kalapana almost entirely, but for now the flow is dividing Pahoa. Also, the number of people impacted not just by the flow but by the resulting difficulties of the highway being cut off, is much greater with this recent activity in Pahoa.

commanderjarak23 karma

What is your favorite ice cream flavor? Why?

the_glass_gecko38 karma

Oh, man. Talenti's Gelato, they make some mean stuff. Salted caramel, mmm. It really depends on my mood, and it's gata be quality. A good strawberry is nice. Or mint chip now and then. Caramel or coffee are good. I think, if I had to pick one - a very good true vanilla bean, with a fresh lilikoi (passion fruit) cracked over it. Can't beat that.

commanderjarak16 karma

That sounds fantastic. I love a good salted caramel, and I wrote vanilla bean off as rubbish for a long time thinking it was just like cheap vanilla ice cream. How wrong I was. Although for me, I can't go past a good peanut butter & chocolate.

the_glass_gecko17 karma

Ooooh, that's a good one too. I'm far too Hedonistic to ever limit myself when it comes to dessert.

Andshu19 karma

How do you deal with a situation like this?

the_glass_gecko51 karma

It's very sad. It's not like a hurricane or tornado or earthquake where something big happens once and you clean up and return to your normal life. It is slow, unpredictable, and forever alters the landscape, you're unable to just put things back how they were. A lot of people look to religion for comfort/explanation. A lot of people are moving. You make alternative contingency plans, and wait and see.

I do wish more was being done. This is an amazing opportunity for geologists and volcanologists from around the world to experiment with an active flow. But the cultural aspect of messing with the flow is sensitive, so nothing's been done. It greatly bothers me that we do nothing, and also forgo experimentation as well as an educational opportunity. It's liquid physics, truly - C4ing a trench to the ocean may have done the trick, IMO ;)

pfaustino18 karma

Maybe I've seen too many movies, but have there been attempts to redirect the flow? i.e. cement walls, scuplting through rapid cooling with water?

the_glass_gecko31 karma

Water won't work, and cement walls it will just pool behind and go over. It's my belief that the best thing to do would be to trench it in the desired direction.

Edit: But, sadly, nothing has been hardly discussed, much less attempted.

nickdaisy13 karma

Are you getting any additional tourists because of this?

the_glass_gecko31 karma

I am not sure. We do have a regular stream of tourists to see the lava when the flow is active and in a safe viewing area. However, currently there is no access to view the flow so tourists wanting to see it may be disappointed. They don't understand that the situation is literally fluid and changes from day to day and viewing is often not permissible.

xXx_DjiboutiJhon_xXx13 karma

What was it like having the CNN crew documenting it there ?

the_glass_gecko17 karma

It's quite a buzz for a little town. But the national guard is here, and with their help and the police things are running smoothly so far. The stretch of road that is threatened is currently closed so there is an area for people to go film. Day to day though, really, there's not much difference. For now it's a wait and see game.

LgNBullseye9 karma

Have you roasted any marshmallows?

the_glass_gecko26 karma

lol, I have not, but I have heard of that... there is an air of tackiness about that, same thing along the lines of being offensive to the culture

MattAdams536 karma

Is there a backup plan being planned right now? It would seem like a good idea

the_glass_gecko13 karma

There are many contingency plans in place, but things are mostly a big wait and see game. The flow can widen, it can stop altogether, or it could reach the cost and continue that way for 20 years. Alternate access roads are being built from both sides of the flow. The geothermal power plant is on the isolated side of the flow so it is being beefed up to supply the area with power. Alternate water sources are being dealt with. Students are being transferred or consolidated within the school system. Businesses are relocating or closing temporarily. It is impossible to know what the flow will do.

MattAdams535 karma

You have done all you can do... Now it's a waiting game... Must be a little stressful.

the_glass_gecko15 karma

It definitely is. Homes, businesses, schools, and a major highway are all in the path of this and threatened. As well as everything on the isolated side of the highway. Often I just think, "wtf why do we live here?!"

mRNA-5 karma


Are there any practical use for the lava, other than gathering them for geological studies?

Also, what (if any) is your favourite ukelele music?

the_glass_gecko9 karma

Well, the volcanic heat in general is great for geothermal power, so we utilize that. Otherwise, tourism!

Not too keen on local music in general... but Mark Keali'i Ho'omalu's chanting, I am a fan of.

Its_free_and_fun5 karma

What do you think of this article, and who issued you insurance? http://isil.org/lava-threatens-homes-only-government-would-insure-in-hawaii/

the_glass_gecko19 karma

One detail other national news sites got wrong - 'thousands' of people aren't 'fleeing' - there is plenty of time to evacuate, and so far less than 50 homes are in an evacuation zone.

Insurance... what the article says is true, but it's not so simple. Not many insurance companies, government or no, cover lava damage. FIRE damage, sure... so a stragetically placed 2x4 or trail of gas could help with that. But it's a clusterfuck regardless of who is insuring what zones. All the zoning and insurance nonsense may have come about after a town was already established. I am not so informed on this, I hear things here and there - long story short, if your house gets taken, dealing with the insurance will suck.

ObamaBigBlackCaucus4 karma

Pats or Broncos tomorrow?

the_glass_gecko14 karma

Uhhhh I didn't ask my boyfriend who I'm rooting for yet... I just enjoy a good game, honestly.

ObamaBigBlackCaucus13 karma

You are a strong independent Black woman, and you don't need no man telling you which team to root for.

the_glass_gecko8 karma

Hahahaha... I never really care who wins or loses, I just enjoy an exciting game.

fruscola41 karma

Wouldn't Pele prefer that you watch soccer?

the_glass_gecko17 karma

ba-dum-ching ;)

BeardsuptheWazoo3 karma

Is there lava passing thru your town ?

the_glass_gecko9 karma

Yes. I currently live between Pahoa and Keaau, but I grew up closer to Pahoa and graduated from Pahoa school. Currently the flow is 150 yds from Pahoa's main road and is on residential property. I also currently work at Pahoa school. The flow is also very near my post office.

coniform-5 karma

Proof? How do we know you are a resident of Pahoa, Hawaii?