The Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, yesterday lamented the “human drama” that no one could imagine on La Palma and the “harsh” personal circumstances of people who have lost everything they have worked for during their lives. «Let them know that they will always have the support of all Spanish society and that the Armed Forces and the Military Emergency Unit (UME) they will be there until it is necessary, without haggling any type of effort or means, “he said.
Robles contacted several UME commands deployed on the island through videoconferences to attend the volcanic emergency , who explained the work they do and some of the work they have done since the volcano exploded. The minister stressed that the unit’s troops face an emergency different from those they have had so far and for that reason she thanked them for the “effort” that the 187 troops who are working on La Palma are making. Faced with a situation like this, Robles remarked that the UME will be “as long as necessary” and with all the human, technical and material resources that are needed. “Count on the UME and the Armed Forces,” said the minister.
Robles was accompanied by the head of the UME, Lieutenant General Luis Martínez Meijide, who stated graphically that “we are long-distance runners”, to guarantee that the unit is prepared to continue supporting the authorities and emergency services for the necessary time civil in the Canary Islands. As he recognized, a volcano is very unpredictable and the military adapts daily to the needs. And he recalled that there are volcanoes that are active for three or four weeks, another previous eruption on the island lasted three months and even in the 18th century the Timanfaya in Lanzarote was active for six years.
The Defense Minister laments the “human drama” caused by the volcanic eruption
Among the commanders who explained to the Minister the work they carry out on the ground was Captain Alberto Pastor Álvarez, a psychologist from the UME tactical group, who told from La Palma how some people were evicted when they returned to their homes “instead of taking things Higher-valued items stopped at lower-value emotional items ”in the 15 minutes they had to retrieve their belongings. “We helped them to decide,” explained this member of the UME to the Minister of Defense. One of the missions of the members of the UME was to accompany the evacuated people to return to their homes to take out what they consider necessary. For this, they had 15 minutes and one car per family.
They are the elderly, he assures, “the most vulnerable” to the situation they are experiencing, since “they see themselves with less time to recover what was lost”, something that young people have understood, who asked the UME to assist people greater. The captain has explained that this emergency is different from others. “People feel desolate, they live with uncertainty about what the future will be and they perceive that they will not be able to return home.” This uncertainty is the most shocking from a psychological point of view, the “not having a reconstruction perspective.”
Lieutenant Alicia Nicolás de Pardo, head of the health services, who has also helped in the evacuation of homes, has commented to Robles as an anecdote the case of a house in which they found ponies and alligators and had to call the Civil Guard already Animal protectors.