Sunday, October 17

From gas stations to cleaning crews, the other essential jobs on the slopes of the La Palma volcano

“Tomorrow everything will probably be covered in ashes again,” says Andrea “la de la Cascada”, as she is known on La Palma. Together with his sister and their husbands, he built a restaurant 41 years ago very close to the La Caldera de Taburiente Visitor Center, where the Advanced Command Post (PMA) has now been established for emergency tasks and monitoring of the eruption. volcanic. It is 6:00 p.m. and he has taken advantage of the staff’s day off to go with his sister to clean. “They have been days of a lot of work,” he assures. Journalists (he is proud that some are very famous), people who come to contemplate the volcano, emergency personnel … have stopped at some point this week to eat or have a coffee. Both she, 71, and her 66-year-old sister say that this eruption “has nothing to do with that of Teneguía in 1971.” Now there is much anguish for the houses and farms destroyed by the passage of the lava. These days they have collected food from suppliers and other items in the restaurant that they have given to some families.

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They are not the only workers who continue to open their businesses with the rumblings of the volcano in the background, the force of the ash and that monstrous image that the lava awakens a few kilometers away. Rafael, manager of the Furniture Shopping Center, and the rest of the employees have filled up to 40 wheelbarrows with ash in a single day, which has impregnated everything. The parking lot of this establishment has become a meeting point for people who want to capture the eruption with their mobile phones and cameras looking for the best approach to record it.

Rafael also tells that in this large building they are storing furniture and other belongings of people who have had to be evacuated due to the eruption. “In a small field I am also keeping animals from some people,” he says excitedly. He points out that the town is turning to the evicted people: “We help where we can.” Solidarity is thus combined with daily activity and from this business trucks have also been provided for people who have had to leave their homes in a short time.

A little further down and only 3.8 kilometers from the Cumbre Vieja eruption is the Shell gas station in El Paso, another point where emergency personnel, professionals, journalists constantly approach to refuel or eat. something in the adjoining cafeteria. Its manager, Yolanda, explains that oil suppliers do not have a volcanological protocol as such, but that the authorities are in charge of indicating at all times what they should do. However, it guarantees that both this and any other gas station have all the security measures. “We have an emergency and blocking mechanism for the dispensers,” he remarks.

The volcano is only a few kilometers away and there have been “moments of tension” in the last week, says Yolanda, especially last Sunday and Monday. Added to the greater number of people who travel to this gas station these days due to the volcano is the need to wash the vehicles constantly due to the ash fall. In the car parks at this point it is easy to see that some of them are completely impregnated. Another of the gas station employees also corroborates that there is “a lot of work” these days.

“The thickness of the ash has been four or five centimeters in this area,” says Francisco Acosta, coordinator of the ash removal tasks on these roads. “At 22:00 at night everything is clean and in the morning it is covered again”.

The crew has become essential, as the road is slippery and requires constant cleaning. “It is dangerous before any braking”, therefore, “sometimes the lanes are not seen and we have to clean quickly” he remarks. Meanwhile, Andrea makes coffee at her restaurant La Cascada, waiting for the next day to be less harsh and for the eruption to end in a few days.

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