“The explosion was what alerted us. We went out, we saw it and, nothing, remove the animals and vehicles. That was what gave us time to do, because the lava came in a very short time.” This is how a family is left with nothing. “We don’t even have clothes. I was in my underwear because I had just showered,” says Lorena, a palm tree from Los Llanos whose house, that of her father-in-law and that of her husband’s sister have disappeared under the lava of the volcano. Now her fear is that this terrain will no longer serve for her to return one day. Fear of a kind of exile on his own island.
In the bowels of the volcano that buried more than 300 properties on La Palma
They all lived on the Pastry Road, between El Paraíso and Todoque de Los Llanos de Aridane. She for 23 years; his father-in-law, more than 40. “My husband’s grandmother went there more than 70 years ago and she is now 98 years old. My sister-in-law also built there 20 years ago. Everything has been lost.” He relates it at the doors of a prefabricated house, on a fenced lot on the Suela Zapata road, a street six kilometers in a straight line from his pulverized house.
If you look at the map, his house fell right in the middle of the first phases of the path of the magma expelled into the sea. “It is right where the lava fell,” describes Lorena, who feels angry because “the people of Las Manchas, who belong to El Paso, were more alert, they even attended a meeting the day before the explosion to have things prepared for what might happen. But they always told us it was going to be far away, where there was not much population. ” These days he stays in the house that his aunt has left him, who is from El Hierro. “But I won’t be able to stay here,” he says sadly. There she is with her daughter, her husband, the dogs and cats that she was able to rescue.
The eruption has caused some 6,000 evacuations and just over 300 homes engulfed by the volcanic mantle. The houses are unrecoverable, but, in addition, the land is not going to be habitable for a long time (in human terms, not geological). Lorena fears that, added to the loss of her home, the land where she lived will not be able to welcome her again: “It is very difficult to go back there. I think it will be impossible,” she says. “I am afraid of having to go live to another place on the island because I want to be in my place and, according to what we have been told – and I do not know if it will happen -, our area, where the lava passes, was going to be a protected area of malpaís “.
If such protection is declared, the lands where this family had been for decades could not be redeveloped. “And that is not fair to me as well as to all of us who lived on that plot, who have lost everything.” The Government of the Canary Islands announced 24 hours after the eruption began that it would allow the requalification of soils to rebuild, but there are things that are outside the scope of the law: the same terrain will take its rhythms to temper itself.
The CSIC researcher in the Canary Islands Manuel Nogales told elDiario.es a few days ago that the land will be practically unused for a fairly long period of time. “The lands that the lava gains are impracticable for cultivation in the short term. You have to wait 15 or 20 years, they are not useful for practically anything before,” detailed Nogales, who is on La Palma monitoring the eruption.
Add to that the time it will take for it to cool. If the tongue measures four meters, this basaltic lava that comes out at 1,000 degrees takes up to a year to cool down. If it is higher, as in some sections of the mantle that runs through La Palma, the calculation goes to several years, as volcanologists have described during these days. Lorena counters that she wishes to continue her life where she had created her home. “I want my place,” he insists while protesting: “They have always told us that nothing is wrong, that everything is fine, everything seems like people’s myths. And they tell us not to worry, that everything is cold and the only thing It could cause problems in the Teneguía area, but since it is there where no one lives … “.
Lorena works as a caregiver for a dependent person. “When we left home I thought about him, of course, because I know he needs help with everything,” but at the moment he has not found the strength to return to his position. “I don’t know when I’ll be able to take care of the man again, right now I’m not capable because I don’t even want to leave here, I don’t want to see anything.” He has only left his refuge to cancel the electricity contract “because, if not, they will continue to charge me even if the house does not exist.”
This caregiver lives hopeless. “I do not expect anything from the City Council or the Cabildo.” He has lost confidence in the institutions because he considers that they have not acted well during the days before the eruption: “We had no information and the most they told us is that it would be a small thing for the neighbors because it would happen where there is no population. But the movements and noises were for the area where I lived. ” And now he has nothing left.