South Iceland Farmers Exhausted by Ash Fall Skip to content

South Iceland Farmers Exhausted by Ash Fall

Farmers in south Iceland whose farms are located below the Eyjafjöll mountain range and who have been subject to extensive ash fall since the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull began last week are exhausted.

One of the farms that has been subject to extensive ash fall. Photo by Bjarni Brynjólfsson.

“There is a foul smell and everything is covered in gray dirt,” Berglind Hilmarsdóttir, farmer at Núpur, told Fréttabladid.

Yesterday the weather cleared after ash had poured down and left the countryside veiled in a black layer of ash. Today ash fall resumed in the area.

Hilmarsdóttir said her throat is sore and it is difficult to breathe. “It’s like you always have dust in your nose. Some people are probably more sensitive to the ash than others. I cannot imagine that this is good for children or for people with sensitivities.”

Search and rescue team members have helped farmers round up sheep and horses and bring them to the stables. “The horses are in amazingly good condition,” Hilmarsdóttir said, adding that she is tired after the round-up.

“But it gives me strength to feel how tightly everyone is sticking together. I’m mostly concerned about the farms that suffered the most damage from the ash fall and the flooding,” Hilmarsdóttir said.

The residents of the farm Thorvaldseyri, which is located at the foot of the glacier, were forced to evacuate the farm last weekend. Ingunn Júlía Ólafsdóttir, the daughter of the farming couple Ólafur Eggertsson and Gudný Valberg at Thorvaldseyri, said it had been “somewhat of a shock” to return to the farm on Sunday.

“But the ash doesn’t seem to have entered the buildings to any significant extent. There was a little ash in the cowshed but not in our living quarters,” Ólafsdóttir said, adding that the eruption has begun to affect people’s mentality. “It is hard on the nerves, especially when my parents are concerned. There has been considerable damage and the strain is extensive.”

The residents of Ásólfsskáli cleaned the farm site yesterday. “There is dirt and debris everywhere,” commented Katrín Birna Vidarsdóttir at Ásólfsskáli. “We have hosed windows, walls, the roof of our house, the sheepfold, cowshed and stables. The animals appear to be fine but we have become rather tired.”

Today, Ásólfsskáli was subject to ash fall again.

Sólveig Ólafsdóttir from the Icelandic Red Cross said crisis counsel will be offered. “There is sound reason for that. It is an incredible strain, both for people who are concerned about themselves and their animals, and for others who enter the area to assist people and rescue livestock. No one who enters the area is left untouched—one goes numb.”

Click here to watch videos of the ash fall and here to learn more about the ash fall and the necessary precautions.

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