Sunday, August 7

Memories buried under the ashes of Todoque


Three days after the La Palma eruption began, more than 250 families entered Todoque to save their memories of the volcano. In just 15 minutes, the neighbors had to manage to remove furniture, mattresses, photographs and documents. The cut off to access the exclusion zone was then installed at the La Laguna gas station. Eli left that way, crying sitting on her belongings in a truck. At present, this station and the Todoque neighborhood only exist under the lava flows.

The last chance for 250 families to rescue their belongings before the lava buries their houses

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Now “it seems that there has been a snowfall of ash,” say some journalists who were able to travel to Todoque Alto during the afternoon of this Wednesday. There are some buildings that are still standing and can be seen on the black dunes that flood everything. The vineyards, the avocado trees and the small private crops that the families had are destroyed.

In the distance, the streams turn a house into fire before the eyes of Francisco Bolaños, a firefighter from the Gran Canaria Consortium. “We were working cleaning and we have seen how it has broken down here. It is going very fast and we are afraid that it will cut the road down to Puerto Naos ”. Upset, Bolaños repeats that “in the face of nature nothing can be done.” “We have notified the PMA (Advanced Command Post) to take the appropriate measures,” he adds. The technical director of the Volcanic Emergency Plan of the Canary Islands (Pevolca), Miguel Ángel Morcuende, explained this October 28 that the contributions of lava mainly advance through the original lava flow and through number 4, which is located north of the Todoque mountain. .

From Todoque Alto you can see an imposing column of ash that rises from the main cone of the volcano and creates an apocalyptic atmosphere. This Wednesday a significant amount of sulfur dioxide was released, reaching 37,350 tons per day, according to the scientific committee. Similarly, an increase in carbon dioxide was reported, reaching 1,320 tons per day after several days with a downward trend.


The latest data concludes that the volcano has already destroyed 1,038 buildings for residential use, 135 for agricultural use and 64 for industrial use. Facing the loss is one of the main challenges for the palm population, which has been living under the shadow of the volcano for almost six weeks. Miguel is 70 years old and lived in Las Manchas, one of the first neighborhoods to disappear and to which the media finally could not access due to the incessant rain of pyroclasts.

In front of the Casa Massieu, set up as a care office for those affected by the volcano, Miguel talks with other neighbors who are trying to find something positive after the catastrophe. “I don’t see it at the moment. It is no longer the material. It is the home, the everyday. All my illusion before was to get home and now I can’t even look for Las Manchas ”, he says.

The psychologist Estefanía Martín has been offering support to those who request it since September 19. The professional notices an increase in anxiety and depression, as well as suicidal thoughts. “There are many people who come saying that they no longer want to live,” he says. Martín insists that the circles closest to those affected should be attentive to these comments and “take them seriously so as not to be late.”

Another of the great concerns of those who come to Casa Massieu to speak with the two psychologists who work there are their memories. ” It is no longer so much the material, but everything behind it. His first ultrasound, the drawing of his three-year-old son or the first brick that his father brought “, describes Martín.

Five kilometers away, in Puerto Naos, there is still hope. It has become a ghost town, and the only life that is breathed is that of two cats that continue to prowl its streets. All the rest are paralyzed lives waiting to be able to return.

From there, the director of the National Geographic Institute (IGN) in the Canary Islands, María José Blanco, recalls that scientific work has a mission: to protect human lives. For the expert, it is easier to raise the alert level than to lower it, given the responsibility of ending the emergency when so many families are affected. Faced with everything, he maintains the importance of scientific dissemination, in a year in which this matter has prepared the population for COVID and the eruption: “The best way to face a problem is to know it.”

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