Grindavík Residents Visit Their Homes

Reykjanes peninsula eruptions

Authorities gave permission yesterday for Grindavík residents to enter the town and pick up some of their belongings. Residents were allowed re-entry in groups and had three hours to collect their most important possessions, Morgunblaðið reports.

This was the first time residents were allowed back into town since a volcanic eruption began on January 14. The eruption near Grindavík destroyed three houses, caused crevasses to form across town, and displaced the 3,800 inhabitants for the unforeseeable future. The town had already been evacuated once before, on November 10 last year, due to seismic activity.

Strict rules for re-entry

Many Grindavík residents had not returned to town since before Christmas and were anxious to receive permission from police and authorities to return. The road conditions on Krýsuvíkurvegur were suboptimal during the visiting hours and many cars got stuck in snow. Even though the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration cleared the road yesterday morning, heavy snowfall caused condition to quickly deteriorate.

Residents had to follow strict rules during their visit. They were not allowed to adjust the heating in their homes, use bathrooms, or move around the town. Many open crevasses remain across the area and infrastructure is damaged.

Family displaced

“We picked up more clothes and toys for our children,” said resident Alexandra Hauksdóttir, who returned with her husband Gunnar. “Gunnar took his golf clubs and we also picked up our pizza oven. Just this and that, but no large items.”

The couple moved in to a new house two and a half years ago, but it is now near the largest crevasse and the lava which flowed into town. “I felt at home there,” Alexandra told Morgunblaðið and added that they would like to return with their two children when it’s safe. “We’re staying in Keflavík in a 60 square metre apartment, down from 190. It makes a difference.”

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.

Lava Flow from Grindavík Fissures Stops

No activity has been observed in the fissures north of Grindavík since 1:08 AM this morning and the volcanic eruption seems to have petered out, according to the Icelandic Meteorological Office. The situation will be assessed in the daily meeting of scientists later this morning, Vísir reports.

The southern fissure that opened up near Grindavik had ceased erupting yesterday, having claimed three houses in town. Lava still flowed from the northern fissure, but protective barriers that had been built to divert the lava flow away from the town had proven effective. This flow now appears to have stopped.

New crevasses forming

“There are many new crevasses in Grindavík,” Elísabet Pálmadóttir from the Icelandic Meteorological Office told Vísir this morning. “The police was in contact with us in the night. They had been flying drones over the area and taking photos of new and growing crevasses. It’s devastating.”

She added that the ground is constantly shifting, with new crevasses emerging while others grow larger. Considerable damage has been done to the town so far. Grindavík is without electricity, hot water, and cold water, and lava has reportedly poured over water piping to the area.

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.

Grindavík Evacuated Again Due to Crevasse Risks

Grindavík earthquakes crevasse

Grindavík, the Reykjanes peninsula town of 3,800 people that was evacuated due to seismic activity in November, will be evacuated again Monday evening. The reason is ongoing danger of crevasses opening up in the area without warning. No unauthorised personnel will be allowed within the town limits for three weeks.

Director of Civil Protection Víðir Reynisson announced this in a press conference today and expressed his sympathies to the family of a man who fell into a crevasse in Grindavík Wednesday. Minister of Justice Guðrún Hafsteinsdóttir also addressed attendees and promised government action to provide evacuated families with housing. She added that she hoped that the town would be safe and habitable again by this summer or fall.

Following seismic activity for months, a volcanic eruption began at Sundhnúkagígar, north of Grindavík, on December 18 and lasted for three days. By Christmas, the residents of Grindavík were permitted to go back to their homes and businesses were allowed to reopen. However, crustal uplift continues in the nearby Svartsengi area and the Icelandic Meteorological Office warns that a new eruption could begin at any time.

Search for man discontinued

Further search and rescue operations for the man who fell down a crevasse are not justifiable for safety reasons, the Suðurnes police commissioner announced today. Search was called off Friday on the third day of operations, due to concerns over hazard to the rescue group. “A man died there and there was a collapse in the crevasse,” commissioner Úlfar Lúðvíksson told Vísir. “This is an indication about the dangers at play. In my estimation, this is the correct decision. We can’t search under these circumstances, unfortunately.

Úlfar warned that the situation of crevasses opening up within town limits was unprecedented. “Like we’ve repeatedly stated, I advise people to stay out of town,” he said earlier today before evacuation was announced. “There are crevasses all over and they’re treacherous. They are opening up. During this operation, this horrible event, we could see how deep they are. How life-threatening they are.”