By José Maria Rodriguez I

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, September 19 (EFE).- This Monday marks one year since the eruption of the volcano on the Canary Island of La Palma, a geological phenomenon of such magnitude that it has forced the mobilization of a volume of public resources and a speed unprecedented in the history of natural disasters in Spain.

On the occasion of the first anniversary of the eruption of the volcano, nearly 200 affected people continue to live in hotels because they have no other place to stay and the sectors that draw the economy from the palm ( mainly agriculture and tourism) are still debating how to recover.

The volcano in numbers

DURATION: 85 days and eight hours of eruption, from September 19 to December 13, 2021, the longest in the number of eruptions suffered by the island since the 15th century and the third in the history of the Canary Islands, after Timanfaya, in Lanzarote (2,055 days, between 1730 and 1736), and the Tagoro submarine volcano, in El Hierro (147 days, between 2011 and 212).

EMITTED VOLUME: The volcano ejected 217 million cubic meters of material, according to the latest 3D mapping carried out by Italy’s National Institute of Volcanology and its Canarian counterpart, Involcán, not including material deposited under the sea in the two deltas that formed the lava on the coast of Tazacorte. In other words, it emitted as much material as the six that preceded it in La Palma’s history combined, at an average of 27 cubic meters per second (m3/s), a rate that on some days approached the 60 m3/s. If these 217 million m3 were water, it would be enough to reach all the reservoirs of provinces like Álava, Castellón, La Rioja or Teruel.

THE CONE: occupies an area of ​​0.6 km2 (60 hectares), on which 36.5 million cubic meters of material were deposited, which raised a mountain 187 meters high in what was until then a hollow of the western slope of Cumbre Vieja. The summit of the volcano is located at an altitude of 1,121 meters.

LAS COLADAS: The lava covered 11.8 km2 (1,180 hectares), or 1.69% of the island’s surface. This huge slab of molten rock, which is slowly cooling from the 1,140 degrees it reached, covers six kilometers from cone to coast, with a maximum width of three kilometers, and has an extension that would be almost enough to bury the city ​​of Melilla (12.3 Km2). It is made up of 177.6 million cubic meters of material, the average thickness of which exceeds 15 meters, but which reaches 65 meters in some places, enough to completely cover stadiums such as the Camp Nou (48 m) or the Santiago Bernabéu. (45m).

THE DELTAS: Reaching the sea, the lava has formed two deltas on the coast of Tazacorte which total 48 hectares of surface, it is the youngest land in Spain. In the largest, 43.4 hectares, corresponds to the entire Vatican State. Below is one of the beaches most sought after by surf lovers in the Canary Islands, Los Guirres, which has gone down in history, but the sea has already formed other small sandbanks that are still untouched and the life begins to colonize the submerged rocks.

the destruction

In total, more than 7,000 people were evacuated from their homes, many of them at least during the three months that the eruption lasted. It represents 8.2% of the population of La Palma.

Archive image of the Cumbre Vieja volcano, on the island of La Palma. EFE / Miguel Calero

In addition, 2,329 people lived within the perimeter covered in lava or ash, 7.1% of the census of the three municipalities that cross the lava flows, El Paso, Los Llanos de Aridane and Tazacorte.

Official data indicates that 1,676 buildings were destroyed or damaged by the floods, including 1,345 dwellings, 180 agricultural tool rooms, 75 industrial buildings, 44 leisure and hospitality facilities and 16 buildings for public use, such as schools or churches, among others. Entire neighborhoods, like Todoque, no longer exist and others, like La Laguna, have rivers of rock in the middle of their streets

Likewise, 73.8 kilometers of highways and urban roads were buried, the vast majority (65%) in Los Llanos de Aridane. 370 hectares of crops were also affected, including 228 of bananas, 68 of vines and 27 of avocado.

It is estimated that the destructions caused 982 million euros of damage of all kinds, to public and private property, according to the estimate of the Government of the Canary Islands.

reconstruction

The amount allocated to aid for La Palma amounts to 565.54 million euros already paid by the central government with the collaboration of the Canarian executive, with 7,091 files initiated at the request of the victims, 96% already signed.

The Canarian government has purchased 139 houses and modular homes to make them available to those who have lost their homes and has granted 488 subsidies for the payment of rents.

Of the 13.64 million euros received by the Cabildo de La Palma in public and private donations for those affected. 7.22 million were given to 2,941 families who have lost their homes or cannot live there (amounts which depend on the number of members) and 6.34 million distributed among 634 families at the rate of 10,000 euros each. The Cabildo covered 420,000 euros on own funds.

Tourists take photos of the erupted volcano. EFE/Miguel Calero

Difficulties persist a year after the eruption

Around 200 people are still living in hotels a year later, more than half of them (108) residents of Puerto Naos and La Bombilla, the two centers evicted by high concentrations of CO2 and other volcanic gases, at levels can be fatal. To these is added an undetermined number of people who live with relatives or in other types of accommodation, such as caravans.

In addition, 93 children lost their usual school: 44 are students from two centers that disappeared under the lava (CEIP Todoque and Los Campitos) and 49 from the one that was rendered useless in Puerto Naos (CEIP María Milagros Acosta). They are gathered in a temporary center in Los Llanos de Aridane.

Housing prices have skyrocketed due to all the lost properties and the impact of the large number of affected people looking to rent or buy at the same time. There are no official data, but portals like idealista.com They estimate that purchase prices increased last year by 21.4% in Los Llanos de Aridane, 20.1% in Tazacorte and 24.7% in the island’s capital, Santa Cruz. This is four times what they have increased in the whole of the Canary Islands, according to the same source (5.7%). And rents are also under the same pressure.

Some 4,000 tourist beds are off the market due to security restrictions due to the presence of gas in Puerto Naos, although the buildings where they are located have not suffered physical damage. La Palma thus has approximately 11,000 operational beds.

Hundreds of homeowners don’t know if they will be able to salvage the farms and homes left under the lava. These lands are theirs, but how to access them, what use they can make of them and what they will be used for are questions that still arise at every meeting of the people concerned.

Edited by Oscar Tomasi

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