La Palma Reconstruction – September 2023

La Palma Monthly Reconstruction Update – September 2023

Science

Resiste La Palma - Drone footage of La Bombilla in September 2023 while it remains evacuated

  • Transcripts of PEVOLCA meetings denied: For transparency around the decisions to keep the volcano on yellow alert prior to the eruption, citizens had requested transcripts from PEVOLCA meetings around this time, although this request has been rejected.
  • 95% of the pine trees close to the cone did not survive: Research by CSIC has shown that the pine trees closest to the crater, which may have looked like they were going to survive the eruption, have died. However, they also say that this is part of the normal rhythm of this ecosystem, although it could take decades to fully recover. However, the recovery of ecosystems further away from the cone has been shown to be much stronger and quicker.
  • Reopening timescales for Puerto Naos – The Commissioner for the Reconstruction of La Palma, Héctor Izquierdo, has said the southern half of Puerto Naos beach, which is part of the zone still evacuated due to high diffuse CO2 emissions, could open in ‘a reasonable time’ if the gas measurements are safe. They have agreed on an action plan which hopes to use innovative solutions to ensure a safe return when possible.

  • New PEINPAL structure: The Island Emergency Plan PEINPAL which manages the post-eruptive situation from a scientific perspective has begun operating with a new structure. Among this, they have hired Fransisco Pulido into their committee, who was the most critical scientific voice against the restrictions in Puerto Naos and La Bombilla due to the high diffuse CO2 emissions.

Aid:

Resiste La Palma - Drone footage of the lava flows and a large volcanic bomb which destroyed a home in el Camino Cabeza de Vaca.

  • More Municipal-level aid: Many of the affected municipalities have been paying aid to those affected by the volcano in the last month. Los Llanos de Aridane paid €950,000 to 954 of its residents who lost their first homes, and Tazacorte paid €550,000 to 385 families affected by the volcano through loss of housing or income. The money from Los Llanos de Aridane had originally been delivered to the town hall in May 2022. El Paso City Council has also made available €260,000 of new aid for those who lost their homes to sustain their expenses.
  • 3,300 helped by charity: Cáritas has helped over 3,300 people affected by the eruption, whether that is through additional aid from donations, psychological help through a listening service, or employment support.
  • 2024 Canary Island budget will include aid for La Palma: The Government Spokesperson has committed that the next regional budgets will contain aid for La Palma and that the Government of Spain must deliver the €100 million committed in their current budget for La Palma, which has still not fully arrived.

Reconstruction: 

Resiste La Palma - The completed LP-213 - Puerto Naos road, section between La Laguna and Las Norias

  • 8th draft of the reconstruction decree: Those affected by the volcano participating in the draft of the decree have stated it will come out as soon as possible and without substantial changes. The most recent draft is said to take into account the needs of the victims and give them options in terms of permanent living and agricultural recovery, having been co-designed with some of those affected.
  • Permanent housing plan: After a meeting between the Cabildo de La Palma and the Construction Labor Foundation, the vice-president of the Cabildo Juan Ramón Felipe has highlighted that the Cabildo must move beyond the current modular homes it has provided for those affected, and work towards definitive housing solutions.
  • ‘La Palma 700’ plan: This plan, announced by the Minister of Public Works, Housing and Mobility, involves €100 million investment to construct public housing in all municipalities across the island. They are currently working on drafts for 100 houses in Tazacorte, with the tender for these projects going out in early 2024.
  • “Volcano Law” registered in parliament: The ‘Volcano Law’, which would guarantee Canarian citizens legal protection during volcanic eruptions, has gained >19,000 signatures, and has been registered in the Canary Islands parliament. It will now be debated in the parliament, with the authors hoping for it to be approved on the 13th of December this year.
  • 23 measures to speed up reconstruction: The Platform of Those Affected by the volcano has demanded 23 measures which they believe need to be adopted to speed up the reconstruction. Many of these points involve clarifications as to which areas are recoverable and non-recoverable, new plans for permanent homes, more aid for those who’ve lost second homes and faster delivery of existing aid.
  • Some still in hotels: 71 people affected by the eruption are still housed in hotels over 2 years later, mainly evacuated residents of Puerto Naos and La Bombilla. The Cabildo is currently considering relocation options for these people.
  • La Laguna – Las Norias road reopens: The first road across the lava flows between La Laguna and Las Norias has reopened after extended works to resurface it and add in new roundabouts and access roads to partially buried homes.
  • Works on La Laguna-Las Norias road due to increased heat flow: New trenches of low thermal conductivity material have been constructed along parts of the La Laguna–Las Norias road where high conduction of heat and increasing convective temperatures in the area were recorded.
  • New hotel announced: As part of the recovery of tourist beds, a new hotel has been announced in El Puerto in Tazacorte, although no costs or timescales have been announced as of yet.
  • Licenses to reconstruct farms: 29 licenses have been granted in the municipality of Tazacorte to reconstruct farms on the edges of the lava flows that were damaged or destroyed during the eruption.

Other updates: 

Lava Bombs Film Wins best cinematography at Madrid International Film Festival

  • Success for locally produced documentary Lava Bombs: Lava Bombs, a documentary focusing on communication and impacts of the 2021 eruption on La Palma, co-produced by Canarian company GeoTenerife and New Light Studio, has won the ‘Best Cinematography’ award at the Madrid International Film Festival. It was also shown on the regional TV network Televisión Canaria on the second anniversary of the start of the eruption.
  • Continuing psychological consequences: The president of the La Palma Mental Health Association has warned of the continuing mental health struggles of those affected by the eruption on the island, and that many have lost hope. She points out that some have used the word resilient about the population to try and erase the poor political management which has made some of this suffering worse.
  • Need for a policy for animals: An investigation by El Valle de Aridane has evidenced the poor situations for pets and other animals during the eruption, we resulted from a lack of a concrete plan of what to do with them, leading to make-shift shelters being improvised by locals, with up to 4,000 pets being cared for.
  • Legal challenges: 22 people have filed complaints to the Aridane courts against not being evacuated from their homes prior to the onset of the eruption, and many communities most affected were not called to information meetings to prepare themselves for what may happen. The NGO Tierra Bonita filed a similar complaint with the Aridane Court, which was rejected at the end of August due to alleged inconsistencies and a lack of injured parties involved, but is now being appealed through the Provincial Court.

  • New land registered by the Cadastre: The land registry in Tazacorte has registered the new land created by the lava deltas in the public domain, belonging to the municipality of Tazacorte and is classified as a rustic class with agricultural use.
  • Banana prices: Protests have been launched by the Platform for a Fair and Authentic Price of Bananas, who claim the volcanic catastrophe has been used to speculate on the price of bananas at the expense of farmers.

Sources: La Palma Ahora, Cabildo de La Palma, El Time, ABC España, El Valle de Aridane

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