On the shore of the La Palma volcano there is nothing but silence and ashes. An orange house resists “miraculously” in the first line of fire and goes unnoticed by the lava flow, which has buried at least 185 properties in its wake since it erupted on Sunday. Beyond the police controls, from the origin of the catastrophe, you can see some empty scattered houses. In some of them there are still clothes hanging. Its inhabitants are now part of the 5,700 people who have been evicted and who, against the clock, have had to save documents, belongings and souvenirs. At the highest point in the municipality of El Paso, there are only a few chickens and trees burned by fire.
The pavilion that became a refuge: clothing, food and support for the families from whom the volcano took everything
From Cabeza de Vaca you can also see the sea. The destination that the river pursues without haste and to which it is not ruled out, after three failed forecasts, that it never arrives. Both the president of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, and the technical director of Pevolca (Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan), Miguel Ángel Moncuerde, pointed out that “the increase in viscosity and the hollows of the ground” make languages advance with slowness, so “there is no certainty about whether it will reach the Atlantic or not.” If it came, the collision between the lava and the ocean would unleash a white smoke harmful to health, due to all the toxic substances it contains.
Moncuerde, who is in charge of the emergency situation that the island is going through, insists that the safety of the people is the issue that most worries the operation. The Llanos de Aridane and El Paso are the two most affected municipalities so far, and next evacuations are not expected at least in the following hours. In the plan, Pevolca included other municipalities that could be affected, such as Villa de Mazo, Fuencaliente and Tazacorte. This last area is one of the closest to the sea and it is not ruled out that lava can reach it. “At the moment it has not arrived,” reassures the expert.
Villa de Mazo, on the other side of the mountain range, was included in the evacuation strategy “due to seismicity.” ” A major seismic movement in this area could also have an impact on the other. In addition, we did not know where the volcano was going to come out, although due to the seismic swarm that there was initially we thought that it was going to come out in a relatively close place to where it came out. For this reason, 20 hours before the eruption we were talking with residents of Las Manchas and Jedey. ”
Just over 20 minutes after the organized media visit began, the wind picked up and the ash cloud was getting darker: “We have to vacate the area now.”
” Every night I think my house disappears ”
On the other side of the cordon of Civil Protection and the Civil Guard is Dévora. He has not yet been able to return home. Thanks to images from drones and television, he has been able to confirm that his home is still standing. Other times he and his family climbed a hill facing the lava river, to see in the distance their blue-walled house in the El Paraíso neighborhood. But the uncertainty returns every night, when the volcano gains intensity and the earthquakes reproduce. “ At night, when I hear the roars or new mouths opening, I think that this is it, that my house is already disappearing. It’s a constant anxiety. ”
Both she and Marcelino, a neighbor of the La Laguna neighborhood in Los Llanos de Aridane, reject the spectacularization of the volcano. “It’s a hell. This is not pretty. Not all of us have been evicted, but for all of us it is a tragedy ”. Marcelino keeps a backpack with three clothes and documents in his room. At the moment, he has only had to leave his house one night due to the danger of toxic gases. Although, he lives in an area included in the evacuation plan. He has friends who have lost the house they have kept for up to four generations: “They tell me their life is over, their family is over. What does one say to a friend? I can only cry with him.”
Meanwhile, spend the afternoon in the pavilion of Los Llanos de Aridane separating clothes and food to distribute among families who have been left without houses and farms. A wave of solidarity with the palm population has been unleashed on the islands and in other autonomous communities. “The good thing about living in such a small place is that we always help each other,” says Nayra, a psychologist born on the beautiful island.
It will take years for the ground hit by the eruption to be usable again. The ground will be useless until it solidifies, now being covered by lava of more than 1,100 degrees. For Dévora, it is not a good idea to rebuild homes in the same place where families are now escaping: “It would be a very strong psychological blow.”