The eruption of the volcano froze the routine of more than a dozen neighborhoods on La Palma. In Las Manchas (El Paso) there are still clothes hanging on some terraces and fruit and vegetable crops are still collected in rooms flooded by ash. This small population center has now become a ghost neighborhood. The streets have completely disappeared. The homes of the little more than 600 inhabitants of this small town are lined with laundry and presided over by a tireless monster that does not stop spitting lava. Where there used to be life, now you can only hear the loud sound of the ash rain that dresses Las Manchas in black. The eruption has removed more than 5,700 people from their homes, has destroyed 413.38 hectares and 946 infrastructures so far, in addition to the 128 that have suffered partial damage.
The La Palma volcano ‘pushes’ a family of 14 to live in an 80 square meter apartment
So far, more than 60 communication professionals have come this Monday on a visit organized by the Government of the Canary Islands. They were accompanied by members of the scientific committee, agents of the Canarian Local Police, the Civil Guard and the Environment. During the tour, a rain of ash and pyroclastic fragments took place, fed by the trade wind, as explained by the volcanologist of the Institute of the National Geographic Institute (IGN) Stavros Meletlidis. So the media had to be evicted in a hurry from the place.
From the Las Hoyas viewpoint you can clearly see all the terrain that the lava has already gained from the sea, where it arrived through Los Guirres beach on September 28. The technical director of the Steering Committee of the Special Plan for Civil Protection and Attention to Emergencies due to Volcanic Risk of the Canary Islands (Pevolca), Miguel Ángel Morcuende, pointed out this Monday that the fajana already reaches 32.7 hectares of surface.
According to the expert, it is being formed from “four lobes of the wash” and is being observed by ships of the Canary Islands Government and the State, which also analyze the levels of carbon dioxide and hydrochloric acid. The director of the National Geographic Institute (IGN), María José Blanco, and the geologist Ramón Casillas explain to this newspaper that it may take months and even years for this low island to be habitable or buildable. But they value that it is not advisable to build on this unstable ground.
Puerto Naos is another of these soulless neighborhoods. A small paint shop on the beachfront awaits with dozens of unfinished paintings. There, too, life has come to a standstill and the rumblings of the volcano are not even heard. On September 22, the third lava flow from the volcano cut off the main road that connects this town with Todoque. Although Stavros Meletlidis points out that the volcanic surveillance network in the area has detected seismic signals, the eviction in this area has been carried out due to the danger of collapse. “There is a wash of several meters in Puerto Naos and we understand that, if there were a landslide, people would be trapped.”
In the case of the cores closest to the volcano, the danger was pyroclastic fragments and lava. “All seismic networks are working together to generate a global idea of what may happen and thus guarantee civil protection,” says the geologist, who celebrates the discipline of the population that has allowed them not to have to mourn deaths.
The board of directors of the public housing company of the Government of the Canary Islands Visocan, has acquired the first 16 homes for the victims. The block of flats is in the center of Tazacorte, next to supermarkets, shops, the health center and the Town Hall. These official protection houses measure around 80 square meters and will be reserved for people who lost their only home, who do not have alternative accommodation and who have less purchasing power. The social services of the municipalities will be the ones that decide which neighbors should be prioritized.
The partial collapse that the main cone suffered during the night caused a lava lake to spill, as well as caused peaks of explosiveness and gases, something that is within the usual within a Strombolian eruption. Thus, Pevolca continues to monitor the laundry to “foresee any significant change” that forces measures to be taken to guarantee the safety of the neighbors. However, Meletlidis recalls that the times of this geological phenomenon “do not fit into our rhythm of life.” ” What seems like a sudden change to us is within expectations. It is a process that generates destruction, but that is building itself, ” sums up the scientist. As for the frequent tremors registered in Fuencaliente, the geologist Ramón Casillas insists that they are part of the process that is already underway.
The director of the IGN confesses that it is easier to raise the level of risk than to lower it. The scientist uses El Hierro as an example. “As of February, the signals had almost completely disappeared, but it was not until a month later that we lowered the traffic light.” The case of La Palma is conditioned by the high number of evicted people who have been left with nothing. “Phenomena like this move on time scales for which our lives are not prepared,” explains María José Blanco.