Hawaii Old-Timer Takes 'Flow and Let Flow' Approach to Lava

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PAHOA, Hawaii — While many residents here fear the arrival of a lava flow from the nearby Kilauea volcano, 83-year-old Paul Ogasawara is taking more of a "flow and let flow" approach. Ogasawara has owned Paul’s Repair, a local gas station and auto repair shop, and another gas station in Pahoa, for more than 50 years. He was born in nearby Kahoe Homestead, into one of only six families there at the time. He recalled how they had no running water or electricity, all cooking and water heating was done with wood and his father worked in the sugar plantation. “My father would come back from the plantation all wet and cold,” Ogasawara remembered, “I had to get that hot water ready so when he would take a bath he would have hot water. No hot water, we used to get a licking.”

Ogasawara faces an almost certain shutdown and possible destruction of his gas stations if the lava crosses Highway 130, the only way in and out of Pahoa. But he isn't bothered. “To the local people,” he says, referring to those like himself who were born on the island, “This eruption is nothing; it’s real minor. Before it used to go a hundred feet in the air and all that. It’s nothing spectacular.”


— Jim Seida