I lived on the Big Island of Hawaii back in the 80's for 8 years. In fact, I was there for 8 years without ever leaving. I have never been back but, true to what they told me when I left there, a big piece of my heart is still there. I bought an acre of land in Ka'u District, built a one-room cabin and lived in it for 3 years. It was off the grid, as are most cabins of this type on the Big Island. I also lived in "coffee shacks" in Kona, which was a nicer area.
The village of Pahoa is on the Puna side of the island, a very small town of less than 1,000 people. It's a market and post office center for all the locals and hippies who live scattered out, off the grid, in the big subdivisions of the Puna District. You can still buy 3 acres for well under $20,000 in Puna and build a cabin like I did, if you are willing to live with no electricity, catch water off the roof, and rough it a bit. It rains a lot more on Puna side than over on Kona side where I lived, so it's very damp and tropical. You can buy several acres just a few blocks from the ocean for under 20K. Yes, really. Check Craigslist.
http://honolulu.craigslist.org/search/b ... ng_type=12
Pu'u O'o vent, on the side of Kilauea Volcano, started an eruption June 27 with typical slow pahoehoe flow, which was heading for Pahoa. The residents of the town therefore have been watching this creeping toward them for several months. Last I heard, yesterday the flow was on the edge of town, and people have begun moving their furniture and other belongings out. I am not sure if the county has provided them with a place to put their things, or if they must find a self-storage unit. Many of the people are poor, and might not be able to afford much. The governor has asked for disaster relief from the feds. I expect they'll receive it.
With past eruptions experiments were done to try to divert the flows with little success. The Hawaiians believe the goddess Pele is in charge of the volcano, so she will decide when she will overtake an area, and nobody can do anything about it. It's just the way life is on the Big Island. A long time ago, an old man in Kapoho told people that a lady in a red dress (Pele) came to his door and told him to put four bottles of whiskey out, one on each corner of his property, and it would be spared. So, the story goes, he complied with her request and his property was spared. The lava went around it on both sides.
So, we wait, we watch. I check local news daily to see what's happening. I'm sure those of you who have TVs can see it on the news, but I prefer to look at local news. Here's a video from the Hilo newspaper's website: http://hawaiitribune-herald.com/multime ... o-evacuate