The advance of the lava flow further south of the Cumbre Vieja volcano It worries, and much, those who enter the coastal neighborhoods of Los Llanos de Aridane from Fuencaliente, since yesterday the Cabildo of La Palma proceeded to cut one of the access roads to these areas to guarantee the safety of the population. This is an added difficulty for the hundreds of people who have their homes, businesses or farms in Puerto Naos, El Remo, Las Manchas, Jedey, Las Norias, San Nicolás or El Charco Verde, among others scattered, and who see the be able to continue going to them to collect belongings, water or clean their plots of ash. Although the access is still open and functioning relatively normally, as it has been doing since the beginning of the emergency, the residents are restless.
The proximity of the lava flow further south of the volcano caused the Island Council to proceed yesterday to close the LP-211 between Todoque and Las Manchas to traffic. This road, together with the La Majada road, was used to go up from Puerto Naos to Las Manchas and continue on the LP-2 towards Fuencaliente. However, now they have to use the narrow path from La Hoya del Verdugo to the tennis club, both to go down, as they had been doing from the beginning, and to return from these coastal centers. In fact, many large tonnage vehicles cannot use this road due to problems in maneuvering in some curves, so operators are working against the clock to widen some sections and facilitate circulation.
Álvaro is one of the workers in the desalination plants that the Canary Islands Government installed on an emergency basis to supply irrigation to some farms on the coast of Llanes. Yesterday, after leaving his job to take a colleague who was not feeling well to the hospital, he had trouble getting back to work. When he left, the LP-211 was still open to traffic, but when he returned it was no longer open. “The road is more or less in the Las Mariposas area, but you can still go through Jedey without problems,” explained this man while he waited for the go-ahead to continue his journey to Puerto Naos.
At the checkpoint, located on the LP-2 at the height of the El Charco viewpoint, the emergency personnel asked if the van that Álvaro was driving could pass or not, without obtaining an answer. The only thing they told him was that he couldn’t pass and that he call his boss to update the admitted list and send it to the Forward Command Post. After half an hour of negotiations, they finally gave the go-ahead and he entered the exclusion zone to go to his job.
Beyond the concern about being able to move to the lands where he works as a mediator, Jorge is also afflicted by the state of health of his family. “I really already lost my land to the volcano, but even so there are many concerns that we have above,” he said. Yesterday was the first time in many days that he was able to irrigate the banana farm where he works, after the irrigation pipes broke, but the threat of laundry number 11 on the LP-211 road constitutes a new Headache for this man, which can lead to him not being able to return to these tasks in the coming weeks.
Although many of the large estates in western La Palma that have not been affected by the volcano are still in the vicinity of Puerto Naos, La Bombilla and El Remo, there are quite a few that, of smaller size, populate the neighborhoods of the midlands of the valley. Those that run through Jedey and Las Manchas have their accesses without inconveniences for the moment, and the owners can access them with relative normality, within the circumstances that exist. However, they still do not have water for irrigation, so they have to bring large carafes or vats to irrigate the crops and keep the plants alive, even if it is, since production has been seriously affected and cannot be recovered. this season, and it will be seen if it is viable in the next ones. This is what has happened to two neighbors who yesterday came to take care of their land in this Llanense neighborhood.
In the Charco Verde area, Petra has her farms, which yesterday armed herself with patience inside her vehicle waiting to be allowed to enter the exclusion zone to water them for the first time since the pipes that arrived were affected. to your area, more than four weeks ago. “One comes hours in advance to be able to irrigate within the shifts that we have assigned by the irrigation communities, and in anticipation of how slow this whole process is at the control point,” he explained. One of the coordinators who are at this point on the LP-2 highway is in charge of identifying, with their surnames, each of the owners who have the right to access the care of their crops and identifies them with a sign that they must carry visible on the windshield of the car.
According to Petra, until yesterday they had to go down one of the access roads to their farms and then they went up another, “which is the one that is the most annoyed now,” and that what they had to do this time was wait in a section regulated by operators who allowed to go up or down intermittently on the same road, which in many places is too narrow to allow two vehicles to pass in opposite directions at the same time. “We only have about 15 or 20 minutes to irrigate with the water from the desalination plants that have just been installed … We will see how it works,” he concluded before resuming his journey.
To the same neighborhood that Petra went, a little over an hour later, Rodríguez, also the owner of a farm that had not been able to irrigate to date due to lack of water. Sitting in his pick-up SUV while waiting for the go-ahead, he was very uneasy about the road situation, since at that moment “the only access road there is is through the tennis court, and that is complicated ”. In his opinion, the most that can be done for the plants is to “keep them alive”, because the water they will receive is scarce and the affections caused by the ash will be too severe to be able to speak of an optimal production.
Rodríguez acknowledged that, for this winter season, many farmers will prefer it not to rain too much, “because the rain is going to hurt more than it is going to make us happy.” Not only because it affects the plants, but also because it will increase the weight of the ash accumulated on the roofs of the house, with the danger that this implies that they can collapse. “I have some apartments in El Remo, and blessed is the desire I have for it to rain and blow them down with the dust that the volcano is expelling,” he added. The concern of many of these people is precisely to see how the lava has left their homes intact, so that now the excessive amount of volcanic material can knock them down if they do not remove it from the most sensitive areas.
To speed up these tasks, Julio, a neighbor who lives in Las Manchas de Abajo, has put a large plastic on the roof of his house, in such a way that it helps him to «facilitate the cleaning work, because you sweep with the brush on it and it slides quickly. Ingenuity has no barriers, and it multiplies exponentially in situations that take the population out of its comfort zone. Although the closure of the LP-211 has not affected him personally, it has done so to go to the lands that his mother-in-law has a little closer to the coast, to which they have not been able to access for several days due to the proximity of lava.
Protect family assets
A little further north of Las Manchas, in the San Nicolás neighborhood, he has a home inherited from his parents, Milagros, who feels “responsible” for protecting it. The property, an authentic colonial relic that is more than a century old, is surrounded by the ash that covers its gabled roof. At the time, it stoically withstood the onslaught of the San Juan volcano, in 1949, which forced the roof tiles to be replaced with new ones to prevent a hole from opening. Just as in that dramatic moment, her grandparents and parents did their best to safeguard the family legacy, now Milagros wants to respond in the same way to preserve that heritage of her ancestors above any evil that may arise.
Yesterday, they entered the exclusion zone for the first time accompanied by a cleaning crew that they hired for the occasion, as well as members of the BRIF who are supporting this type of situation in the emergency. However, on that first trip, which lasted the maximum time allowed for these tasks, Milagros and her husband could not finish removing the ashes and tidying up the surroundings of the house, so they left and again requested permission to enter the house. again and finish with cleaning. “There is a lot to sweep and we are sad that the house could fall, because it is a family legacy from my grandparents that is very important to me,” said the woman. She is clear that, as long as she can continue to pass, she will continue to watch over what makes her so proud, as shown in the photos she has taken of the old newspapers that her ancestors read at the time and that remain stored in the trunks of the make it their home.
Two other residents of Czech origin also wanted to enter their home in Las Manchas yesterday at noon to be able to continue cleaning inside and to remove the ash from the entrance, the backyard and the roofs. “We are concerned about the proximity of the lava flows, although our house is below the cemetery and, for the moment, it seems to be safe,” one of them commented. During the day, many people living in these neighborhoods were called to go in an orderly fashion to collect belongings and spend as little time as possible inside the exclusion zone due to the danger it entailed. However, as the day progressed, the passage of magmatic material slowed down, quieting the alarms a bit. Therefore, these natives of the Czech Republic were able to go home accompanied by an emergency vehicle.
On the other hand, another couple of foreign origin came to this area, accompanied by their dog, in search of a cat that they lost a few weeks ago, in the meantime eviction due to the advances of the lava flow, and that some information from protectors of animals were located in the vicinity of the popularly known as Plaza Bonita de Las Manchas. However, three quarters of an hour later they left the same way they had entered without the company of their pet and visibly disappointed. And it is that, every day there are many stories that come together around this checkpoint, in which neighbors and strangers are encouraged and talk with the same feeling: to survive this morrudo volcano.
Confusion in El Charco
During the day yesterday, the confusion at the Charco checkpoint, in Fuencaliente, became very visible among the many people who came there to allow them to water, clean their houses of ash or collect farm equipment and machinery. In the middle of the morning, the Cabildo reported the closure of the LP-211 highway and doubts were raised from many people who were there or who would arrive later. All this spiced up by the presence of the media in the area and many confused tourists who did not know where the road was cut off and prevented them from continuing their visits. Every day, this point on the LP-2 highway is buzzing, a constant coming and going, but yesterday it was more chaotic if possible. Little by little, yes, the usual normality was regained and access was continued as usual. | CAS