Disasters & Accidents

Living on the edge of a volcano: evacuations, endurance and hope

By Saro Prieto

Los Llanos de Aridane, Spain, Nov 5 (EFE).- Dácil has been living in a caravan with five family members since 19 September, when a volcanic eruption on the Spanish island of La Palma forced the evacuation of thousands of people.

“There are thousands who have been left homeless and I have somewhere to stay for the moment,” the young mother of two young children told Efe.

Even though it feels cramped in the caravan, Dácil said her family is slowly getting used to their new dwellings.

“The important thing is that we are alive,” she added.

After the family was forced to flee from their home in Las Manchas, Dácil moved into the caravan with her husband, two children, mother-in-law and sister-in-law.

Although her home has not been swallowed by the lava streams, when she went to visit it recently she left with the feeling that she would never see the house again.

Born in Tazacorte and raised in Los Llanos de Aridane, Dácil built the house with her husband and the help of her father-in-law. It is the first and only home she has owned and she insists she doesn’t want a new one.

“My house needs nothing. It has a patio, a garden, a vineyard…Can you imagine losing all that?” she asked.

A week before Cumbre Vieja erupted, Dácil gathered the family’s belongings and on Sunday 19 September she piled everything and everyone into the caravan and fled.

They escaped with dogs, turtles, several birds and a small snake in tow.

The first week was the worst for Dácil and her family. She cried over leaving her home behind and her husband would spend the nights watching the lava flows and checking they hadn’t guzzled their home.

The Town Hall of Los Llanos de Aridane has set up an area for people living in caravans as a result of evacuations and for those who have lost their homes.

Daily donations help them get by. Locals have shared practical things like kitchen equipment and cutlery as well as food in the last 46 days since the volcano started its explosive journey.

The young mother knows that her family can hold up for a few months in the caravan, “but not much longer than that.”

Despite trying to come to terms with the idea of losing her home she cannot help but wonder where they will go if they do.

“I don’t want pity, I just want my home,” Dácil said.

She has tried to explain the situation to her children with honesty because “they are children but they aren’t stupid.” EFE


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