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Power restored to most in Hawaii neighborhood hit by lava

October 3, 2018

HILO, Hawaii (AP) — An electric utility on the Big Island has restored power to nearly all active customers in a neighborhood that was evacuated when the Kilauea volcano began erupting.

Power has been restored to all customers who requested reconnections to their homes in Leilani Estates except at a few sites where damaged equipment still needs to be replaced, Hawaii Electric Light Co. spokeswoman Rhea Lee-Moku told the Hawaii Tribune-Herald on Monday.

“I think we’ve made very good progress,” Lee-Moku said.

The residential neighborhood in Pahoa was evacuated following the May 3 eruption. Lava later destroyed dozens of homes in the neighborhood.

The utility conducted assessments before the mandatory evacuation zone was lifted early last month, Lee-Moku said. With the head start, the utility was able to remove damaged equipment and repair the area’s distribution system, which required the installation of new poles, lines and anchors.

The utility was ready to begin restoring power by Sept. 17, and has since reconnected all but “a handful” of customers, Lee-Moku said. The properties that still lack power have damaged equipment, have not requested reconnection, or were destroyed or isolated by lava.

The utility required customers to request reconnection because it turned off all main breakers at homes during its assessment phase, Lee-Moku said.

Damage to the power grid still lingers outside the neighborhood, but it’s relatively contained to areas that remain inaccessible because of lava, Lee-Moku said. Areas unaffected by lava flows continue to have access to electricity.

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Information from: Hawaii Tribune-Herald, http://www.hawaiitribune-herald.com/

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