Years after the volcanic eruption of La Palma, Angela lives by the side of the road

Years after the volcanic eruption of La Palma, Angela lives by the side of the road

NOS / Rob Zottberg

NOS . News

  • Rob Saltberg

    Spain correspondent

  • Rob Saltberg

    Spain correspondent

Lava reaches thirty meters in thickness in some places, and beneath it is very red and hot. One year after the eruption of the La Palma volcano, hundreds of Canary Islanders are still waiting for help.

There was nothing stopping him at that time: when the eruption had already been going on for two months, Angela Merisi’s farm, originally from Germany, disappeared. Then, the volcano at La Palma spewed lava and ash for another month. Mercy was shocked.

“I worked on my eco-farm with semi-tropical trees for ten years. I had hardly any money, but I was able to build the business without support. We started farming three years ago. When everything was ready, the volcano erupted.” You remember Mercy.

She knew right away that it was the last day on her farm. “All I can save is my kitten and a small car. We drove to a camping site a little further down the road. I spent days in shock. There was a shower and a place for cats. But no one came to help me.”

thick layer meter

A year after the volcano erupted, she was one of an estimated 1,000 islanders still waiting for help. In many cases, they lack papers that prove their home has disappeared under a meter thick layer. Victims are also stuck in a sticky bureaucracy.

NOS / Rob Zottberg

Landscapes buried in La Palma

The eruption lasted 85 days. More than 1,200 hectares have disappeared under lava on an island half the size of the province of Utrecht. 7,000 people have been evacuated in the area, hundreds of whom have not yet returned due to the high levels of carbon dioxide. Take the coastal town of Puerto de Naos that has turned into a ghost town.

There were a lot of kind words from the island government when the disaster happened. “But this has turned into nepotism,” says banana grower Juan Carlos Rodriguez via Zoom. “Some have been helped, while others are not. We are desperate. We also have to live.”

Rodriguez lost his banana plantation, although his home miraculously survived. Little money came from insurance. Currently runs by working on the land with friends farmers. Tonight is a demonstration for the affected islanders, who are demanding that the island government finally have their cases dealt with.

slow cooling

“In fact, the only solution is to confiscate the inhabitants of the buried land. They should then receive an amount of money corresponding to the value of their property before the volcano erupts,” said photographer Alfonso Escalero, who also lives in the Canary Islands. “If we don’t, we’ll never get out. Then we’ll kill each other again.”

Escalero took thousands of photos of the disaster last year with a crew of wildlife photographers. became famous his picture A hut that defies lava flow. She later vanished into the scorched earth.

Bring book With photos of the disaster and stories from the islanders. The proceeds go to the affected population.

I love the world

The “House of Miracles” in La Palma

Meanwhile, the cooling of liquid rock is very slow. Under the crust of the cooled lava, the temperature reaches close to one hundred to two hundred degrees. It’s even hotter the less. The affected area will be unusable by residents, tourists or local farmers for years to come.

“People shouldn’t just get this money for their lost property,” Escalero says. “The government should allocate places elsewhere on the island where they can rebuild their lives.”

German Angela Merisi does not want to leave La Palma. Like the other islanders, she is looking for evidence that her farm is under lava. She does not want to know anything about returning to her homeland. “I don’t have anyone in Germany anymore.” She sees no other choice but to insist on her ownership of a small piece of the island with the authorities.

But this is not easy. Mercy is already afraid to soon be in her truck for the second birthday. Somewhere along the roadside in La Palma.

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