June 8 (UPI) — Nearly 600 homes on Hawaii’s Big Island have been destroyed so far by the eruption at Mount Kilauea, authorities said.
Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim, whose home was among those lost, said the increased toll makes the Kilauea eruption the most catastrophic event in the state’s history.
The most recent eruption included new lava flows through Kapoho Beach Lots and Vacationland that destroyed nearly 500 homes.
Thursday, Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed a memo to free up $12 million in immediate disaster relief to pay for police, fire, public works and civil defense personnel. The money will also help with equipment needed for evacuations and rebuilding.
“This is an ongoing emergency and we’re in the early stages of damage assessment, but we do know that costs for overtime, equipment and materials are mounting,” Ige said. “This funding will help the county continue to protect the health, safety and welfare of area residents.”
Civil Defense spokeswoman Janet Snyder said estimates to repair roads are about $5 million per mile.
A report from the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaii Volcano Observatory said lava “continues unabated” from Fissure 8, near the most populated area, with lava shooting as high as 200 feet.
USGS officials also say there is no way to know when the eruption will end or if more fissures will open.