Icelandic farmers stay put, despite fear of volcanic floods

An ash-covered farm near the disaster zone. Image from YouTube.

Since ash spewed by Iceland's volcano eruption began causing havoc in northern Europe, the island itself has been largely forgotten. Local farmers there are still in danger however. Hundreds of nearby residents continue to be evacuated, leaving the farming region almost deserted. A farmer from the area gives us her account.

The heat of the eruption in the early hours of Wednesday morning caused a third of the Eyjafjallajokull glacier, upon which the volcano sits, to shift down the mountain, prompting huge floods. The island's circular Road 1, which passes by the area in the south of the island, has been partially destroyed at the point where it crosses the river feed which is carrying the glacier downstream.

The Þjóðvegur 1 (road n°1) was cut in several places and the bridges have been destroyed. Image posted by Julien Oberlé, on his blog, Jujux á Íslandi.

Contributors

“If the roads aren’t repaired soon, we will have to throw away our milk”

Hanna Lara Andrews is one of the dairy farmers from below the Eyjafjallajokull glacier.

We've been evacuated a few times now [since the first eruption almost a month ago]. This time it was on Wednesday night. A civil protection official phoned us at two in the morning and we got into our shelter. There were then two floods, but they've been able to contain them so far. I managed to get to Reykjavik, where my son is, last night.

Some people stayed behind; my partner and my mother-in-law included. They're 700 km away, underneath the volcano. Farmers are allowed to return to their farms to tend to the animals. They're allowed to go outside during the day, but at night they have to stay in the shelter with the door locked. They're very busy, looking after the animals, protecting the machines from damage [from the ash]. For the time being the livestock seem ok, even if they aren't able to go outside. The ash isn't good in terms of health. The biggest problem is that the roads have been destroyed so the milk can't be collected. We can only stock a certain amount on the farm; if the roads aren't repaired soon, we will have to throw it away.

The ash is still falling thickly; it's difficult to see through it. But it could change direction for the north, which would move it away from the farms. Our biggest fear is the floods. They could come at any moment. Our land hasn't been damaged yet, but some of our neighbours' has."

In pictures, ash, floods and deserted farms

Footage of farms flooded after the eruption. Video posted by "Kadamatful" on YouTube, 14 April.

The extent of the fallen ash. Video posted by "Kadamatful" on YouTube, 15 April.

The ash cloud seen from Scotland. Posted by Craig Murphy on Flickr.

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