“An emergency team will accompany him. If you hear an alarm, you should return immediately ”. An agent of the Civil Guard communicated to a driver the guidelines that he should follow when entering a restricted area, exceptionally open to water crops or collect belongings. A security device was enabled this Thursday 4 kilometers from Los Canarios, in the municipality of Fuencaliente, on the road that goes in the direction of Puerto Naos, El Remo, Charco Verde and Las Hoyas.
MAP | The impact of lava: 981 buildings affected and 338 hectares covered
These are areas where banana plantations extend that farmers have not been able to irrigate for days, being within the perimeter marked by the eruption that devastated La Palma since September 19. During the morning, long queues have been generated to access by the only access road. There is no other alternative to get there because the announced road from Fuencaliente to El Remo has never been completed. “If it existed, there would not be these queues, of course,” acknowledges a local police officer.
This statement is repeated by palm trees and palm trees that live on the west coast of the island, who have been demanding the work for years. The mayor of Fuencaliente himself, Gregorio Alonso, explains that this road is the responsibility of the Government of the Canary Islands and “they have been announcing it for 25 years”, especially during the electoral period, but it never becomes a reality. Noelia García, mayor of the Llanos de Aridane, where El Remo is located, confirms this: “It has been raised for 25 years, or more.” It details that it is a road that has always been demanded, because “it would facilitate transit in that area.”
Now, with the two roads that connect both municipalities buried by lava, which has divided the island in two on the west coast, the only connecting road between the Llanos de Aridane and Fuencaliente (a journey of about 15 kilometers) is through Santa Cruz de La Palma, at the other end of the island, and it takes more than 1 hour to travel the 59 kilometers of distance. Since he saw the announcement of the Cabildo de La Palma, which published on Twitter that access will be allowed, Juan Carlos Rodríguez arrived at Los Canarios, in Fuencaliente at 09:00 in the morning. There he joined the long line of vehicles that were going with similar purposes. “I arrived at my plantation at 12.00,” he says.
The mayor of Fuencaliente assures that the current government group also “had the work in its program” and the mayor of the Llanos de Aridane recalls that “on occasion this Executive and the previous one have raised it.” But he considers that it could not be executed because “it is very complex.” García adds that he has held a meeting with the vice president of the Government of the Canary Islands, Román Rodríguez, in which he spoke of this road, without even taking any appearance of reality. “It is a magnificent opportunity to do a work that we have been demanding for a long time, which would improve tourist traffic,” he says.
The Ministry of Public Works of the Government of the Canary Islands, announced last Wednesday that, after a meeting with the Cabildo de La Palma, several secondary roads will be enabled “almost immediately” to join Puerto Naos and other nearby inhabited centers with the rest of the island through Fuencaliente and the south.
As if a cliff fell
“We are entering, but we are going to drop, how can it be otherwise”, narrated in the queue Francisco Garlaz, farmer with banana trees in Puerto Naos. The tense waiting turned into joy when he could see that his banana trees, although full of ash, “have not burned, they are still alive and the soil is more or less fine.” With a PPE protection suit, goggles and a mask, he was able to access, but had to wait his turn in line to water “because the pressure in the tube is limited”, there were many and only “a few points at a time” could be opened.
To the frustration of wanting to “do things and not be able to”, because Garlaz’s claim was to irrigate with enough water because he does not know “when I will be able to come back,” was added “constant tension.” The alarm could go off at any time and will force you to “go off whistling leaving everything.” In addition, the anguish increased because “the volcano sounded very loud, as if a cliff were falling.”
Deterioration of air quality
This Thursday, the eruptive process continues and the lava flows into the sea in a continuous flow, which falls in the form of a waterfall and has formed at the base of the cliff a delta -500 meters wide and 40 wide- with a wide front that it has reached the level of 24 meters in marine depth, as explained by María José Blanco, director of the National Geographic Institute in the Canary Islands.
The rest of the flows are practically inactive, which has allowed access to farmers. The seismicity remains in the same area of previous days, that is, around Fuencaliente, registering an earthquake of magnitude 3.3. And the depth is more than 10 kilometers. Blanco also explained that the tremor is stable, although in some areas near the cone it is of high frequency and the deformations maintain a stable pattern.
The steering committee of the Canary Islands Volcanic Emergency Plan (Pevolca) has warned that the wind will blow from the northeast and anticipates that it will push the gases generated by the contact of the lava and the sea along the west coast. Specifically, scientists have measured high sulfur dioxide values on Thursday that exceed air quality regulations, which causes the smell of “rotten eggs” in Tazacorte.
In this municipality, the neighborhoods of Marina Alta, Marina Baja, San Borondón and La Condesa remain confined. And, especially as of this Friday, recommendations are extended to the population of the Llanos de Aridane and El Paso. You should stay indoors and go out only in case of need; In this case, FFP2 masks must be used, especially people with respiratory conditions, the elderly, children and pregnant women.
This Thursday a Government Council was also held, in which it approved a decree law that will exempt from the payment of the IGIC to the purchase of homes, vehicles, farms and equipment to those affected by the La Palma volcano, who also Estate and inheritance taxes will be forgiven during this time. In addition, the rule will include various tax cuts and tax deferrals.