Officials in Hawaii activated the state’s National Guard earlier this week in response to the eruption of Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano.
Gov. David Ige and Maj. Gen. Kenneth Hara, the state’s deputy general, activated 20 service members Monday to help “with traffic control and other functions,” according to the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.
For more than a week since its Nov. 27 eruption, Mauna Loa, located on the Big Island of Hawaii, has been spewing molten lava. It marks the volcano’s first eruption since 1984.
Speaking at a press conference on November 28, Hara noted that typical requests for assistance for this type of emergency would likely be “awareness and incident assessment missions, air and ground evacuation, security logistics, and communications.”
Shortly after the eruption, a Coast Guard C-130 Hercules crew from Barbers Point Air Station conducted a flyby of the volcano to assess the situation, according to a Coast Guard District 14 news release.
The consequences of the lava alone could be serious, as it comes dangerously close to the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, the main road connecting the eastern and western halves of the Big Island. As of Monday, lava was flowing less than 2 miles from the highway, also known as Saddle Road, according to the US Geological Survey.
“While the lava is moving very slowly at this time and does not pose an imminent danger to populated areas, it remains a hazard with enormous destructive potential,” Luke Meyers, HI-EMA Administrator, said in the latest press release. recently from the agency. In the past week. “We wouldn’t be doing our job if we weren’t working to define potential impacts and recommend ways to reduce or eliminate them.”
Officials also warn about the impact on air quality caused by volcanic ash and gases.
This is not the first time the National Guard or the military have been used to respond to volcanic incidents on the island. In 1935, the Army bombarded the erupting Mauna Loa in an attempt to stop its lava flow, according to HistoryNet. Since 1843, Mauna Loa has erupted 34 times, according to the National Park Service.
Meanwhile, another volcano on the Big Island, Kilauea, continues to erupt, drawing the attention of residents and tourists. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park currently remains open to visitors looking to catch a glimpse of the dual eruptions, according to the Park Service, which highlighted safety tips and some of the best places to view them on its website.
Jonathan is a writer and editor of the Military Times Early Bird Brief newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @lehrfeld_media