Hawaii's Big Island Declared 'Major Disaster' by Trump Administration as Eruption Continues
On Friday evening, the Trump administration Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) approved a "major disaster declaration for Hawaii" in the wake of the ongoing Kilauea volcanic eruption and earthquakes. This declaration clears the way for federal resources to supplement state and local recovery efforts.
Approximately 2,000 evacuees have had to abandon their homes as the eruption continues. Of these, 300 evacuees are currently living in emergency shelters. Authorities say that it could be weeks or months before the evacuees are able to return to their homes — if their homes are spared by the eruption.
For travelers to the 50th state, the impact continues to be minor. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remains closed due to the eruption. However, other tourist sites on the Big Island and all tourist sites on other Hawaiian islands remain unaffected. Flights are currently operating on schedule into and out of the two major Big Island airports: Kona (KOA) and Hilo (ITO).
However, that could change suddenly if the volcano begins a steam explosion. As the lava lake levels continue to drop inside the Halemaumau Crater, geologists are wary of a "once-in-a-century" steam explosion. In addition to launching boulders into the area surrounding the crater, this steam explosion could mix with unfavorable winds to affect Big Island flights.