The lava flow from the La Palma volcano reached the sea on the night of September 28 and the 14 members of the Plasencia family breathed a sigh of relief. They believed that at that time their “lifelong” home, located in El Pampillo, would no longer be in danger and would go unnoticed by the lava. However, the catastrophe did not stop and continued to devastate crops and buildings. Among them, his home, built more than half a century ago. Since the volcano erupted two weeks ago, they have taken refuge in a small 80-square-meter apartment in Tazacorte, owned by Esther, one of the sisters. There they spent twelve days of agony glued to the television. Hope faded as the hours passed, until a WhatsApp image confirmed the tragedy. “The burning of the house was an emotional break,” confesses Esther, 47.
The day the ground broke in the Cabeza de Vaca area, she, her parents, her children, her nephews, her brothers and her brothers-in-law spent the night in this small house in the southwest of the island. It has three bedrooms, a bathroom, a sink and a kitchen. Sitting on the mattress of a living room converted into a room, Esther explains that, no matter how hard they tried, “it was impossible.” So as soon as a loved one offered them the option of temporarily moving into an El Paso home, some of them took advantage of it. At that time, they went from being 14 people to being ten.
“At no time did we think of someone going to the El Fuerte barracks,” he says. Affected residents who had no other option were temporarily housed in this military barracks in Breña Alta, which is now empty. The Plasencias now have to eat in shifts, sleep in company and get used to other people’s schedules. Still, they prefer to remain united until public administrations offer them another option.
“The house that is burning is mine”
Esther’s parents are 76 and 74 years old. “We built the foundations with our own hands,” laments the woman as she prepares to arrange documentation related to her home, which has now been buried by lava. Every day that preceded the tragedy, they called the councilor of the City Council Mar Pérez by phone. “There are two or three days until it arrives,” she tried to reassure them.
The bad news came on Thursday, September 30, through a photo that was circulating on social networks. Lorena, one of Esther’s sisters, holds the image in her hands and points to the home where she grew up: “That which is burning is our house.” They received it first. ” We cry together in this same room. Then we calmed down and told the kids. Then came the hardest part, telling my parents before they found out on television. ‘Mom started crying and taking her medication. Dad was quiet. ”
The next day, they began to compose themselves little by little. The City Council of Tazacorte has lent them a place to store the belongings they rescued. Some neighbors have given them their storage rooms. Every few days a psychologist calls them and some supermarkets have donated boxes of food and hygiene products. And, in addition, a private individual has contacted them to offer them a home.
The Plasencias have family in El Hierro, who have not hesitated to offer them houses, but they do not want to leave their island. Although when time passes, Esther does want her parents to leave for a few days: ” I want them to change their environment a bit and be able to listen to other things. Here, you go out into the street, and you only hear the volcano. ”
The economic situation of the family does not favor them either. Esther and her partner have cattle. To save their animals from the eruption, they had to relocate them to Garafía. So every morning they travel 40 kilometers to feed them. They both sell milk, but the buyers have now lost everything and can no longer pay. Esther’s brother-in-law is also unemployed. Until now, he has chained temporary contracts and has had to combine different jobs to get ahead.
His solution to overcome the catastrophe is to “stay together” and keep alive the memories that happened for more than 50 years within the walls of a house that no longer exists. “I went to pick up the children from school after work and spent the whole afternoon there,” says one of the sisters. ” At Christmas, there were more than 20 of us once and we never got to argue. We didn’t let the grown-ups cook. We cooked together and always had a good time, ” says Esther. This year it will be different, but they will try to keep it special: “We have no other choice.”