A world of ash on La Palma two months after the volcano

More than two months after the eruption in Cumbre Vieja ended, on December 13, the black color covers almost everything in the high altitudes of the town of the stainssouth of the main cone, where the ash fall was constant during the 85 days that the volcano remained active.

About him ash blanketwhich the residents of the area say is more than four meters thick at several points, a handful of chimneys and roofs stand out, as well as the tops of the Canarian pine trees, which are beginning to recover and return some green shoots to a landscape that, otherwise, it has lost color.

The ash removal works are continuous and the hustle and bustle of trucks leaving Las Manchas loaded with volcanic slag along the road to Fuencaliente contrasts with the enormous amounts of picón (lapilli) that still accumulate on the edges of the roads and in the gardens of some houses.

To return normality to Las Manchas and the rest of the neighborhoods covered in ash, the Canary Islands Government has launched the La Palma Extraordinary Employment Planwith more than 1,000 people dedicated to reconditioning the affected areas.

Julio Rodriguez is neighbor of one of the houses closest to the volcano, “the fourth” according to his calculations. In fact, it is the first one already discovered in that place, since the other three are still covered up to the ceiling and at the foot of one of them there is a volcanic tube through which a river of lava gushed for days.

This resident of La Palma pauses in the strenuous work of removing ashes to talk with Efe. He is realistic: he does not believe that it is possible to remove everything to leave it “as it was before”, he assumes that he will have to rebuild part of his farm on the slag layer.

That, where there is only ashbecause another part of the land where vines and fruit trees used to grow, today is buried by a lava flow, in a broken landscape, dotted by several sinking volcanic tubes.

Rodríguez has had to hire a small excavator to clear his property and demands that the administrations “give him a hand”, because by hand, with the shovel, “it is impossible to remove all this ash”. “Here we have more than two meters,” he says.

The housing structure de Julio Rodríguez stands firm, as evidenced by the red dot marked at the entrance of the property, which means that the municipal architects have verified that it is safe. However, the roof of his garage could not withstand the weight of the ash and gave way.

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Problems are piling up for the residents of this area of ​​Las Manchas, where, according to Julio, the drinking water that the municipal services are working to replenish has not yet arrived. “Living here for now is unfeasible,” he laments.

Now Julio’s house and others located on the San Nicolás highway are less than 50 meters from the still steaming lava flows from the eruption and at the foot of a mountain almost 200 meters high that emerged in the area known as Tajogaite during the almost three months that the eruption lasted.

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