“It’s the only road going through that section of the island,” said state Sen. Russell Ruderman. “We have to find a way to keep it open.”
A meeting Thursday was set to examine possible evacuation plans, repairs and alternate routes amid continued seismic activity.
The highway concerns prompted officials to move the Volcano Fire Station, inside the now mostly closed Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, to a safer area.
Highway 11 is critical for those in the island’s southernmost district to get to medical services in Hilo, on the east side of the island, said Jessie Marques, executive director of the Kau Rural Health Community Association.
She said her daughter decided move to Las Vegas because she was afraid of frequent earthquakes and getting cut off from her dialysis treatments in Hilo.
Robert Hughes, owner of Aloha Junction Bed and Breakfast in Volcano Village, isn’t worried. “We’re getting lots of little shakes but you get kind of used to it,” he said. “It’s good to be prepared but we’ve lived here a long time.”
Molten rock is blasting from one eruption site, a large cinder cone in a hard-hit neighborhood where new volcanic cracks first opened on May 3. It’s sending huge volumes of lava snaking to the ocean miles away.
An estimated 700 homes have been destroyed, more than 500 of those in just two days, and thousands of people have been displaced. One man was injured in the weeks after the eruption began, and another 23 people were hurt July 16 when lava entering the ocean exploded onto a tour boat.
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