‘The worst thing is not knowing what comes next’: La Palma residents face weeks of uncertainty as lava flow advances from volcano to the sea

ON Tuesday, as lava advanced across the island, families were given just one hour to salvage their worldly belongings as helicopters flew overhead and the sound of sirens pierced the air.

The mandatory evacuation order was issued for those residents in the danger zone as molten lava crawled towards the sea, destroying anything in its path.

Katy Reyes, a 34-year-old youtuber and lifelong resident of the island shared what it is like to have your life turned upside down.

Katy Photo 1

“From my house you can see the volcano perfectly, the ash clouds and there is also ash in the street, it is a little difficult to breathe and sometimes it smells like sulfur,” she told the Olive Press from her home in Tazacorte which is just outside the current danger zone.

But although safe for the time being, she is in contact with friends and family who have lost everything and fears she could be next.

“The worst thing is not knowing what else could happen next,” she said. 

Her mother was among the first people to be evacuated from her home in Puerto Naos, after vents ripped open on Sunday afternoon spewing showers of red hot magma high into the sky. 

Several of Katy’s friends have seen their homes engulfed by the lava.

“They have to watch as their entire life has gone in less than a minute,” she said. 

By Wednesday morning around 6,000 people had been evacuated and 320 homes destroyed while towering lava flows grew to up to 12 meters high. 

 “They are transferring people to crowded military shelters, and even putting some in asylums, where they have to sleep on the floor”.

Katy recalls the moment of the first volcanic eruption on Sunday: “I felt a strong explosion that was heard and seen from my house, people who were closer were scared, they started running and there was a lot of panic”.

On Monday night she was forced to flee her home as tremors violently shook her building. 

 “At about ten at night, we felt the strongest shaking which lasted longer than others. My neighbor across the street, who has small children, came out having a nervous breakdown”. 

At around 6am Tuesday morning there was another, less violent, tremor.

Between tremors, uncertainty regarding the lava flows is another thing keeping residents up at night: “The most dangerous thing now is the lava, we don’t know where it’s going, and scientists say that there are two options: either it comes out where it is now or another volcanic eruption point is formed further north, and if that happens it could reach my home”.

Katy feels angry that some tourist companies and government figures seem to be using the tragedy to promote tourism. 

“There are people from the government saying that this is a show, and it is a reason for tourists to come.

“This makes me angry, for us ‘Palmeros’ this is no spectacle. 

“We are losing everything in our lives, everything. 

“We are suffering and it also makes me angry that there are many people who do not even know how to find us on a map”. 

But scientists are also warning about the potential danger of toxic gas clouds if and when the molten rock reaches the sea. 

Residents remain in a state of panic, worried what will develop in the next few days: “For now, the truth is, if I’m really scared, I just hope this ends soon”.

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