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Hawaiʻi Island Mayor Mitch Roth on volcanic activity at Maunaloa

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View of Maunaloa on Nov. 28, 2022.

The world’s largest volcano, Maunaloa has erupted for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Government officials are monitoring the situation, some of them getting a birds-eye view of the situation. At the moment, there are no mandatory evacuations in place, but shelters have opened to accommodate those opting to leave voluntarily.

The Conversation spoke to Hawaiʻi Island mayor Mitch Roth after he returned from a flight over the affected area.

"I'm pretty optimistic. Last time we weren't sure which way it was going to go, and it was looking like it was going to stay in the caldera," Roth said. "There is lava coming out of the northeast rift zone, which is going towards the access road for Maunaloa."

He says officials have told him that it is highly unlikely that the lava will flow to the Kaʻu side. "So we are feeling very lucky at this time."

Meanwhile, the Red Cross opened two shelters on the Big Island earlier this morning in response to the Mauna Loa eruption. One is at the Old Kona Airport State Recreation Area and the other is at the Ka’u District Gym.

The Conversation’s Russell Subiono spoke with Matthew Wells, the Regional Communications Director for the American Red Cross Pacific Islands Region, to get an update on what’s going on right now at the shelters.

He said that since the lava flow hasn't caused any sort of evacuation order, there isn't a need for people to start filing into shelters.

"We have a great selection of volunteers on the Big Island to help out. Many of them came up through the 2018 lava flow so they know what they are doing," Wells said.

He said that those who can't volunteer at the moment can help out by donating to the Red Cross.

This interview aired on The Conversation on Nov. 28, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Catherine Cruz is the host of The Conversation. Originally from Guam, she spent more than 30 years at KITV, covering beats from government to education. Contact her at ccruz@hawaiipublicradio.org.
Russell Subiono is the executive producer of The Conversation. Born in Honolulu and raised on Hawaiʻi Island, he’s spent the last decade working in local film, television and radio. Contact him at talkback@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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