Emotions Run High at Grindavík Residents Meeting Skip to content

Emotions Run High at Grindavík Residents Meeting

By Steindor Gretar Jonsson

Grindavík volcanic eruption January 2024
Photo: Golli. January 2024 eruption by Grindavík.

Displaced residents of Grindavík gathered at Laugardalshöll sports venue in Reykjavík yesterday to discuss the town’s future and demand action from authorities. The meeting was also attended by government ministers, scientists and public officials, Heimildin reports.

The town was evacuated Sunday as an eruption was starting in the vicinity. Yesterday morning, lava flow from both fissures north of Grindavík had ceased. The town of 3,800 inhabitants has sustained considerable damage, however, with three houses destroyed by lava and treacherous crevasses forming across the area. Grindavík is without electricity, hot water, and cold water, and lava has reportedly poured over water piping to the area.

Hoped her house would burn down

During the meeting, Bryndís Gunnlaugsdóttir, a Grindavík resident, pointed out the fact that those whose houses were destroyed by lava would get immediate compensation from the Natural catastrophe insurance of Iceland, a public institution. The rest of the residents, whose houses remain intact on the streets of an uninhabitable town, get nothing despite being displaced.

She said it was the worst day of her life when the eruption ended and she saw her house hadn’t burned down. “If my house had burned down, I would have gained financial independence. I would be able to start a new home and this noose around my neck would be gone,” she said and received a standing ovation from attendees.

Decades of activity possible

Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Minister of Infrastructure Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson, and Minister of Finance Þórdís Kolbrún Reykfjörð Gylfadóttir all addressed the crowd. They said that government needed time to work out how to best assist the residents in their time of need. Some in attendance demanded that the government purchase all town properties to allow people to start over.

Kristín Jónsdóttir from the Icelandic Meteorological Office told attendees that repeated eruptions could be expected from the Sundhnúkagígur fissures to the north of the town. Uncertainty remains about the volcanic activity and whether it will manifest in one long eruption or several smaller ones. However, looking at the history of the Reykjanes peninsula, we could be at the start of several years or decades of activity.

Helping Grindavík

There are numerous ways in which you can provide support for the people of Grindavík, even if you do not live in Iceland. The Icelandic Red Cross has set up a page with donation options for those wishing to lend support. This includes both one-time donations and repeat subscriptions.

Sign up for our weekly newsletter

Get news from Iceland, photos, and in-depth stories delivered to your inbox every week!

* indicates required

Subscribe to Iceland Review

In-depth stories and high-quality photography showcasing life in Iceland!