Wednesday, October 20

The family that suffered the ravages of the summer fire and the eruption of the La Palma volcano


“The thing started off crooked.” Alberto *, Cathaysa * and their two children, ages 4 and 18, have suffered the ravages of the fire that took place in August in El Paso and, now, of the eruption of the La Palma volcano. A week before the family signed the purchase of a house in this municipality, the flames surrounded their area. Fortunately, they did not cause damage to the interior of their house, but they delayed all their plans to reform it and move in. While they were working on the adaptation of their home, they rented an apartment in the tourist district of Puerto Naos. Twelve days later, they had to leave with what they were wearing because the laundry had started its journey towards the sea, threatening everything in its path.

The lava from the La Palma volcano already exceeds a width of 1.2 kilometers and affects more than 420 hectares

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Now, the couple has had to force their way into their new house, which has no electricity, water, appliances, or shower. So far they sleep on a mattress on the floor and spend 24 hours a day quickly turning it into a place to live in peace and killing rodents. A few kilometers from his home, the volcano continues to roar and the incessant rain of ash seeps through the windows. Both agree that there are many weeks of work ahead of them and that the days “weigh more and more”, but they count on the solidarity of their friends and the El Paso City Council, which is working so that the family can have electricity and Water.

Since the volcano erupted, they have struggled every night to sleep. Every day they go to shower in the sports hall of the municipality, but they look forward to the day when they can have their own shower at home. “You miss showering, bundling up and going straight to bed,” says Cathaysa. For her it is “like being born again”, since she has lost her independence and needs the help of the rest to be able to cope with her day to day. Among the entities that are part of their support network is the World Central Kitchen organization, which is responsible for bringing hot food to their home for lunch and dinner.


At 12:30 pm on August 17, in the heat of the heat wave, an outbreak of fire was registered in El Paso. The Cabildo de La Palma declared alert level 2 and the Canary Islands Government took control of the emergency. The flames also spread through the neighboring municipality of Los Llanos de Aridane, and 120 people had to be evacuated. The risk of the fire rested in the space where it occurred, as it was a forest urban interface area. The flames affected 300 hectares, including semi-abandoned farms.

Dozens of homes were affected by the fire in the summer, as reported by the president of the island council, Mariano Hernández Zapata. The high temperatures and strong winds did not help then to extinguish the fire, which made it easier for it to reproduce and jump to the south of the island. The flames calcined dozens of trees, vehicles and also homes, which have now also been invaded by ash.

Just a month later, La Palma had to face the greatest catastrophe in its last years, the eruption of a volcano that has damaged crops, infrastructure and more than 1,000 buildings. It has also unleashed a wave of solidarity across the country. The Cabildo has received so far 4,179,806 euros between donations from individuals and private companies. Aid that will go “directly to the people affected by the volcanic eruption and will serve to meet specific needs, once basic needs have already been met,” they explained.

Rodrigo * is also a neighbor of Puerto Naos. Although his house has not been destroyed by the laundry, he has been forced to live in a family building with 21 other people. Among them, her partner and her seven-year-old son. He has been a friend of Cathaysa and Alberto for many years, and although he is also a victim of the eruption, he does not want to ask for help. ” For me the most important thing is others. I wish I could have something else to give them, but I can’t. ”

All the people who have been affected by the volcano have lost something. However, they always agree that “there is someone who is having a worse time,” even this family from El Paso who has had to overcome fire and lava. “We at least have a roof, there are people who no longer have anything.”

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