An earthquake and hours of waiting before being able to access the houses threatened by the volcano

It is noon on Saturday. The sun beats down on the LP 2 highway, at the access point to the town of Jedey (Los Llanos de Aridane), evacuated since last Sunday 12 of September after the eruption of the La Palma volcano. A long queue of cars, close to a kilometer, waits its turn to pass through the improvised control that the Civil Guard has installed to prevent access to the area.

Nerves are common currency in the row, from which you can see the black smoke emanating from the volcano on the other side of the mountain. “I’m very anguished,” says Vismaida Díaz sitting in the passenger seat with her husband Jorge. “It is the sixth time that I have tried to enter my house, and the Civil Guard has always sent me to turn around. There is little information, they do not tell us when we can come. And for us it is important. A few years ago they confirmed to us that the house has aluminosis and we have to prop up the garage or it will fall due to the accumulated ash. ”

The one of the Cuban Vismaida Díaz and her husband Jorge is the The story of so many residents of La Palma who had to evacuate their houses in haste and who are now trying to return to them, even for a few hours, to water, collect precious belongings or feed an animal. The couple currently lives with their son of 10 years in the implement room of their banana farm in Tazacorte. “The one that paid for my son’s medical studies.” And qualifies. “As far as possible, we have been lucky. There are those who are having a much worse time. ”

Agentes de la Policía Nacional y personal de Cruz Roja hablan con vecinos afectados por el corte de la carretera LP2 dirección Jedey, La Palma.
National Police officers and Red Cross staff speak with neighbors affected by the cut off of the LP2 highway towards Jedey, La Palma. PACO PUENTES (EL PAÍS)

The Civil Guard allows visits to the houses for five hours in the morning. Two people can enter by car, but the control is exhaustive. An agent photographs the license plate of each vehicle and checks the identification of the occupants and the relationship between them. At least one of the two must be registered in the exclusion zone. Once the control has been passed, a member of Civil Protection, Cecopin (the Insular Operational Coordination Center, dependent on the Cabildo) or Gesplan (a public company of the Government of the Canary Islands) accompanies the residents. “This morning we were more lax,” explains a member of the armed corps, “and now we have it down below full of uncontrolled people. The GRS He is going to look for them. ”

This rigor of the Civil Guard causes impatience in the queue. “I don’t understand so much control, it’s absurd,” protests taxi driver Enrique Pérez aboard his car and accompanied by his wife. “This is going very slow and they inform us very badly.” “There is little information,” confirm Sonia Camacho and Áurea Martín, daughter and mother, two cars later. “We are going to feed the animals and water the plants a little, but we were not expecting this big tail. It is poorly organized. ”

Some occupants get out of the cars and walk a few steps to the wooden fences, from which you can see the west coast of La Palma. They chat, they smoke, they talk to the cops … Anything to calm the boredom. Are the 12.12 hours when a 3.6 earthquake, with an epicenter in the neighboring municipality of Fuencaliente, shakes the road.

“Did you feel it, Yademai?” the driver of a red Volkswagen asks his passenger. “The doors have all moved, it has been amazing!”, He adds. Then take your mobile to consult the seismic information application that has been downloaded.

Personal de Cruz Roja habla con vecinos afectados por el corte de la carretera LP2.
Red Cross staff speak with neighbors affected by the cut of the LP2 highway. PACO PUENTES (EL PAÍS)

Several occupants of the adjoining cars come to comment on the earthquake. “We just need a UFO to come or aliens to come out of the bottom of the volcano,” laughs one of them.

This little outbreak of joke dissolves shortly and boredom returns. “I came to La Palma three months ago,” says Sara Campbell, an English woman in her forties who rented a house in Jedey and who has barely been able to enjoy a week of the island’s tranquility. “This is a bit tough to live alone, with a dog and three cats. I left my computer in the rush of evacuation and I want to collect some personal things and clothes ”. Fortunately for her, her landlord had another home available in Tijarafe (a municipality in the northwest of the island). He does not know what to do. “It is still too early to make decisions.”

Three Red Cross volunteers do not stop walking through the queue handing out bottles of water to neighbors. He hands one of them over to Candelaria Fernández, who is nervous. “I’m going to pick up what I can, especially the papers from the house, and see how it is, because it will take time until we get back here, I’m afraid.” She is accompanied by Pedro Hernández, who will help her despite having lost her home in El Paraíso the day after the eruption. “The evacuation protocol was not very good,” he criticizes. “But I have been lucky. I saw it live and direct. If it bursts 277 meters below you and I would not be talking. ”

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