The La Palma volcano puts an end to the 85 “most tragic” days of its history | Society

The surface of La Palma continues to burn and give off steam and gases ten days after the volcano went to sleep, a reminder of the hell that ravaged this land between September 19 and December 13. 85 days and eight hours of “tragedy”, in the words of the president of the island council, Mariano Hernández Zapata. The longest eruption in history has ended on La Palma and the most destructive of the last century in Europe. And yet the worst may be yet to come.

“The volcano has gone out, yes. But this news gives me a feeling of uncertainty, “says Davinia González, a beautician in a telephone conversation who on September 28, the same day that the lava reached the sea, lost her house in the town of Todoque (Los Llanos de Aridane) . Just a month later, the homes of his parents and his brother suffered the same fate. “I wonder what will happen to us now after the volcano has been extinguished and we are no longer a major news story for the media. Sadness, anguish … I don’t know, it’s hard for me to name it ”.

And that, despite the fact that Davinia González, can be considered relatively lucky: she has been one of the first to receive an apartment acquired by the Government of the Canary Islands. In his case, in the municipality of Tazacorte. But he can’t help looking back. During the last month he has bought furniture for his new home, but he has done so without illusion. “It is not my home, and it is hardly going to be,” he laments.

She, like so many others, is going to have to invent a new life after dose horribilis palmero (in addition to the volcano and the pandemic, the municipality of El Paso, where the volcano is located, suffered a fire in summer that burned 800 hectares).

The feeling of helplessness that González feels is a common currency among the palm trees after these 85 days in which the lava flows have devastated 1,219 hectares. Rare is the person not directly affected or who has a relative or friend who is not the owner of one of the 1,576 buildings that have fallen, according to the Cadastre count.

Aerial image of a house covered by lava and ash on La Palma on December 14.
Aerial image of a house covered by lava and ash on La Palma on December 14.JORGE GUERRERO (AFP)

Testimonies like that of Davinia González are repeated in all corners of the island. María de los Ángeles (Chángeles for her neighbors) a few weeks ago went to Casa Massieu, where the Government has installed the citizen service point. Chángeles (71 years old) also lived in Todoque, together with her husband and very close to their five children. Everyone has lost everything. “He lived in a little house with his plot … Everything was humble, yes, but I was very happy. She was rich, and I didn’t know how to appreciate it ”, she laments. “My life is already coming to an end. Actually, who I feel sorry for is my children and my five grandchildren, “he says before bursting into tears.

Davinia Viña and Adolfo Pais also lived in Todoque. He is dedicated to construction, but she also worked in a banana cooperative located two blocks from her house and which has also completely disappeared. “I haven’t slept for many nights,” Pais explained recently, “and I didn’t stay calm until I checked that I was still standing.” Their home, where they lived for 15 years, resisted for 49 days. But finally, just as the eruption was coming to an end, it succumbed to the lava. “We cannot fight with nature,” Viña accepted with resignation this Saturday.

Those who have had the luckiest have limited themselves to suffering only the anguish of one of the 10 evacuations or the fear of the tremors produced by one of the more than 9,000 earthquakes that have shaken the houses throughout the island, and some of the neighboring Tenerife and El Hierro. The evacuees, however, will still be slow to return to their homes. “It will not be an immediate procedure,” say sources from the Forward Command Post. “You have to be patient. At least, yes, we have taken the first step, which is to end the eruption “.

Davinia Viña, Adolfo País and their daughter, Nilsa País, photographed at the end of September.
Davinia Viña, Adolfo País and their daughter, Nilsa País, photographed at the end of September.Samuel Sanchez

Distrust towards aid

The public administrations have promised substantial aid of all kinds these months to ensure the future of the island. Currently, more than 7,000 people remain evacuated. Of these, 2,329 have been directly affected by residing on the slopes of the 200-meter cone born in the Cumbre Vieja Natural Park. And this Saturday has served to revalidate these promises.

The first, the President of the Government, Pedro Sánchez, through his Twitter account: “All my appreciation to the palm trees and palm trees. We will continue working together and together, all the institutions, to relaunch the wonderful island of La Palma and repair the damage caused ”. The leader of the regional Executive, Ángel Víctor Torres, has celebrated the end of the volcanic eruption and has affirmed that the reconstruction of the island will be approached with the maximum speed and with all guarantees. “Now we will face the true principle of reconstruction”, he assured, and it will be “with the utmost speed and with all guarantees”: “The commitment remains intact. 2022 will be a better year ”.

They have, however, the palm tree distrust. One of the victims’ platforms has called a protest demonstration this Monday to demand “an immediate distribution of donations and aid” and “an efficient and rapid management of the housing problem.” “The postvolcano it is going to be harder than the volcano, “Juan Morín, spokesman for the Platform for People Affected by the Cumbre Vieja Volcano 2021, warned this newspaper a few days ago.” Do you help? “asks Davinia González. “What do you want me to say. I have only received something from the City Council. Of state aid, I honestly have no hope. I do not trust”.

On La Palma, however, there is also room for optimism. Davinia Viña has lost everything, except her family. Therefore, it will continue forward. “I will form a home elsewhere with my family, with a lot of love and thanking God for another day of life,” he sentenced this Saturday in a WhatsApp message. “Now more than ever I want to live, and not just survive. Live”.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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