La Palma volcano: The mother whose family home was consumed by the river of lava

·2-min read

It's easy to focus on the scale and the spectacle of what's happening in La Palma.

The red hot lava from the volcano has now reached the Atlantic Ocean sending clouds of potentially noxious white steam billowing into the air.

But each new eruption is upending individual lives.

Remedios Armas was born on the island.

She raised her three children in a house that has been passed through generations of her family for more than two hundred years.

Her home was one of the first to be consumed by lava when the eruptions began.

"I lost everything but I'm still alive. I have no belongings. I didn't even have time to take my photos of my kids, the baby photo albums. But at least we're still alive and we're together."

Ms Armas and her family were taken by surprise when the volcano started to bubble. Volcanoes are unpredictable but they believed the eruptions would take place on a different part of the island. They realised terrifyingly late that the eruptions were happening close to their house.

"All the neighbours were saying 'Run, Run, Run!' Everyone was panicking," says Ms Armas.

They left in time to save their lives but none of their possessions. Ms Armas sent her children to stay with their father while she and her 88-year-old mother spent four nights in a military barracks.

A good Samaritan heard about their plight, and although a stranger, offered them an apartment to stay in until they can find somewhere permanent.

But it's small for all five of them. Ms Armas managed to find donated computers for her children to continue their school work. Many schools on the island have closed since the volcano erupted. But she worries that with so much uncertainty and disruption in their lives her children's futures are now in jeopardy.

"Each one of them had their own dreams, and I've been working hard for them to reach them. Now I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to give that to them."

Ms Armas doesn't have insurance, which is extremely common on the island, despite all the volcanoes. She says the millions of euros in aid that have been promised by the government won't be enough for all the people that have lost their homes.

Her mother Otilia Lucia Perez Diaz lived through La Palma's last two eruptions. The first in 1949 and the second in 1971.
She says what's happening now is worse and she's given the volcano the nickname 'chico malo.' It means 'bad boy'.

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