The evacuation order on Grindavík may be lifted in time for residents to return to their homes for Christmas, according to the Chief of Suðurnes Police. Authorities are waiting for the next risk assessment from the Icelandic Met Office to make a final decision on the matter. The Southwest Iceland town (pop. 3,600) was evacuated on November 10 due to seismic activity and the risk of a volcanic eruption.
Seismic activity has calmed
In late October and early November, a powerful earthquake swarm and land deformation damaged roads, homes, and infrastructure in Grindavík. On November 10, residents were ordered to evacuate the town, and the evacuation order remains in effect. While seismic activity has since calmed, a “danger phase” remains in effect for the Grindavík area. Residents are now permitted to enter Grindavík between 7:00 AM and 9:00 PM but are not allowed to stay overnight.
Chief of Suðurnes Police Úlfar Lúðvíksson says that most Grindavík residents have respected the evacuation order, though Vísir reports that one restauranteur refused to leave the town yesterday evening. Seismic activity in the town has calmed, as well as land rise, though it continues in the Svartsengi area north of Grindavík.
Waiting for risk assessment
“I expect the Met Office to update their risk assessment map on Wednesday,” Úlfar told Vísir. “I’m waiting for that day because we weight and evaluate the situation every day and if we believe there’s reason to lift the evacuation then, with good reasoning, then we’ll do that.”