Tuesday, October 19

One week after the eruption that kept La Palma in suspense: “I have already made up my mind that I am going to lose my house”


Eleazar turns 30 in five days. “We hope there is something to celebrate,” he says, resigned, as he waits to board the ferry that will take him from Santa Cruz de La Palma to the Port of Los Cristianos, in the south of Tenerife. His home is in Todoque, one of the neighborhoods evicted by the volcanic eruption that has kept the island of La Palma in suspense since last Sunday. “The lava has not reached the house yet, but it is on the laundry path. I have already made up my mind that I am going to lose it.” What hurts Eleazar most are his older neighbors. “It is going to be difficult for them to get ahead. This volcano is not pretty,” laments the young man, who takes with him four animals: his two dogs and two rabbits left behind by the family that was staying in the apartment. next door. They will go to their mother’s house in Tenerife. “I don’t want to leave them here, outside is where they are best going to be.”

The ash rain leaves the sea as the only way out of La Palma and saturates the port

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Eleazar’s intention is to return the same day. He is only going to take the animals, put them to safety, and return to what has become his home in recent days, the house of his girlfriend’s brother, located in the municipality of El Paso. “Thanks to them, they have made us feel like we were at home, but of course, it’s not the same, you don’t get used to it.” Their future, like that of thousands of those displaced by the volcano, remains uncertain. “I have decided that I will not live there anymore, even if the house is saved. There are no neighbors, there is nothing left. I am going to look at that with anger.” On Sunday, when the volcano exploded, he was outside his home. He saw it head-on. “The first thing I thought was that we were going to lose everything.”

Uncertainty, resignation and fear of losing everything are the most repeated sensations on La Palma when a week has passed since the magma and the pressure of the gases broke the earth’s crust in the volcanic building of Cumbre Vieja after eight days of swarms seismic that anticipated the imminence of the phenomenon. That same afternoon, María Antonia and her family were evacuated from their home on the coast of Tazacorte. Since then, they have experienced two relocations. The first, in the home of the dependent person he cares for, in the Triana area. This Saturday he had to relocate again, because that house had to be used for other needs. “We come to a very small apartment. We are going to be seven people and they only have two beds. We need a house,” he says while unloading his belongings, accumulated in supermarket bags, and leaving them on the landing of a central building in Los Llanos de Aridane.

Wolfgang also has seven days away from home. He resided in Puerto Naos. On Sunday, around 6:00 p.m., he was evicted. Now he lives in his vehicle, which he parks in a garden in El Paso. “It’s a long car and I have water in the garden,” says this German citizen who has been on La Palma for twenty years, an island where he has dedicated himself to organic farming. In a few days he hopes to move to an apartment in Los Llanos de Aridane that has been offered by “a palmero friend”, but his future seems far from earth. Last month, after the forest fire that burned an area very close to the eruption of the volcano, it lost 80% of its avocado production as a result of high temperatures and winds. “The wind, the fires, the plague of aphids and now this … The money is missing, it is very complicated. I will go, but not to Germany.”

Spaces are enabled for evacuees

The El Fuerte barracks have been one of the first points installed by the emergency device deployed on the island to attend to the people who have had to be evacuated. Lieutenant Colonel Domingo Expósito explains that during the days before the eruption the contacts with the authorities were permanent, since the tremors that had been registering the island were a harbinger of what happened on Sunday at 3:20 p.m. This barracks is prepared to house a thousand people, which can be doubled. “There has been a maximum occupancy of 200 people and at present it has decreased a lot towards other dependencies.” At the moment there are 20 that are in the place. “Each person has a story, there are those who have lost all the memories of a life and others who went abroad tomorrow, not because they are tourists but because they spend long periods residing in La Palma and now they do not know what is going to happen” , aim. This same Saturday a foreign woman was waiting seated in El Fuerte and raised various doubts to the colonel.

The members of the Red Cross are in charge of filing and deciding which is the most suitable place for each user, according to their needs. Many dependents have passed through this barracks, since at first it was proposed for this profile, but they have been derived mainly to residences and hotels, although there are also those who have preferred to stay with family, friends … Exposito underlines that “they are being difficult moments, including for us ”, but“ we are very satisfied in the sense that we have been able to help with the emergency device to, at least, reduce a little the pain caused ”. If he stays with something, it is with the solidarity that the citizens, the army and the rest of the troops have given off.

Wave of solidarity: “We are at full throttle”

In the Llanos de Aridane, at the sports center where clothes and other belongings have been collected for the evacuated population throughout the week, one of those responsible, Rober Nazco, indicates that it is already “full” and that they have been had to enable other warehouses, especially to store mattresses and electrical appliances. Two professionals from the psychological emergency and catastrophe intervention team are at the entrance to listen and emotionally support these people so that they can express themselves. Psychologists Nayra Rodríguez and Felipe Lagarejo emphasize that this is not an easy situation. Sometimes, they say that moments of a certain uproar are formed due to the lack of information.

The uncertainty that is palpable on the island of La Palma was evidenced this Friday when a new eruptive mouth was opened and the explosions intensified, for which another 160 people were evacuated from the towns of Tajuya and Tacande. To make their affiliation and guarantee them other accommodation, the El Paso soccer field was set up, where at 8:00 p.m. in the afternoon about fifteen people (some with their pets) were waiting. Maria de Los Angeles, a lifelong neighbor of El Paso, was at its doors this Thursday. Her mother always tells her that while she was in her womb, the Teneguía erupted. 50 years later he is experiencing the eruption of Cumbre Vieja. With several children to feed, she goes to this space to collect food, since, although it has not been directly affected by the volcano, she already required help before the eruption. “We can all go through a bad time, and coming here is not a shame,” he says. He remarks that the day of the first explosion he felt it in his home and that every day he hears the sound of the volcano very loudly against his doors and windows. However, she is calm. “If they have to evacuate me, I would take my children first, which is the most important thing.” “We live on volcanic islands and with nature you cannot fight,” but he insists that now we must be on the side of the people who are experiencing the worst, those who have lost their livelihood and their home.

Solidarity is not only appreciated in those pavilions packed with food or clothes, but also in other types of gestures. María Cristina is a young woman who is taking care of pets of people affected by the eruption at her family home in Santa Cruz de La Palma. Linda and Samantha have found a second home in this house, where friends who have been trapped on the island and another of the evacuees are also staying. “In the last fire in El Paso I also donated what I could,” says this young woman, who has now become involved in sheltering some pets. At the time of the interview, the family of one of the dogs calls her on the phone to check that her pets are well and that María Cristina is following the instructions. “You can come see her whenever you want,” he says on the phone.

The volcano changes shape

The residents of La Palma have lived a week of shocks. The initial explosion was followed by the eviction of the first neighborhoods, the same Sunday. More than 6,000 people. The lava flow was gaining height and speed, engulfing homes and crops. It was feared that it would reach the sea at night. This was announced by the President of the Government of the Canary Islands, Ángel Víctor Torres, at a press conference. However, the river of lava slowed its advance. After a few convulsive days, and when the telluric activity showed signs of some stabilization, this Saturday a new scare arrived. An episode of explosions of great intensity caused the opening of two new broadcasting centers. The scientific committee of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca) advised to evacuate three other neighborhoods (Tajuya, Tacande de Arriba and Tacande de Abajo) due to the fear that a fracture would occur that would destabilize the volcanic cone and could cause its partial collapse or total.

This Saturday, the volcano has changed shape. “Yesterday (this Friday) there was an effusive-type emission, but the volcano continues to have a strombolian-type activity. A lateral sector has been dismantled, but there has been neither landslide nor collapse,” explains Carmen López, director of the Geophysical Observatory Central of the National Geographic Institute (IGN). The telluric activity itself and the emission of new mouths have transported part of the volcanic building forward, towards the lava flows, revealing “a horseshoe-shaped sector on one of the sides of the cone,” he adds.

According to López, the episode that occurred this Sunday does not entail a greater danger for the population. “During eruptions, the morphology of volcanoes is almost continuously in transformation and the volcanic cone is in a succession of creation and destruction. It is created, it is destroyed, a small mouth comes out on one side that then makes its own volcanic cone. There is a continuous transformation, “says the scientist, who clarifies that the lava flow that this Friday night ran down the slope after the opening of the new mouth” no longer flows “and that it advances” with the remnant movement of yesterday “. “You don’t see that Hawaiian-type emission that there was, with that jet that you could see. They have flown a drone and you don’t see practically any emission, neither at the top or in the tube area, on the way, but you don’t want to say I can’t start over. ”

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