Iceland: TikTok and Youtube videos show Grindavik residents feared 'the end' but came together at crisis time
Residents of the Icelandic town of Grindavik are sharing their experiences of recent days, when the area has been under threat from a volcanic eruption on social media - and a local police officer says they all deserve praise because of how they have acted with each other
People are being asked to donate money to the Red Cross in Iceland to help the people to Grindavik, as social media videos reveal that residents feared "this is the end" before they were asked to evacuate their homes due to continuous earthquakes and the threat of a volcanic eruption in the Icelandic town.
The 3,700 residents of Grindavík were ordered to leave their homes on Friday November 10, as an intense earthquake swarm accompanied the formation of a lava dyke stretched beneath the town. At the time of writing, on Wednesday 15 November, there has still not been a volcanic eruption in the town, but scientists continue to fear that it will happen in the coming hours and days.
Further videos also show residents waiting to be taken back to a certain area of the fishing town, which is located on the Southern Peninsula of Iceland, by officials who had decided that it was safe for them to return to their homes to get essential items under supervision - but they were only given five minutes to collect things.
One video, shared on TikTok by a Grindavik resident named Marcoka Schuba yesterday, shows cars queuing as people wait to return to their houses. He said: "It's very dangerous and difficult and the police are trying to let us in to let us get our very important belongings, and from then on we just will see." He added: "As far as we know, there is a lava tunnel running under the town and it could erupt any moment. I've seen pictures from yesterday and there were lots of cracking in the road so hopefully it will not erupt until we collect our belongings and we just hope it will all go smoothly."
Other videos being shared on social media show large cracks running across roads in Grindavik, and also huge holes and craters, some with steam coming out of them, which appear to have been caused by earthquakes which have happened the area in recent days. One Tiktoker, who runs a channel called climate_kaputt, shared one of those videos and said that Iceland is waiting for an "imminent volcanic eruption". They also claimed that on Monday (November 13) one part of Grindavik dropped by a metre, while another area rose by 1.4 metres.
According to local media reports, Grindavik experienced thousands of earthquakes prior to residents being evacuated, and scientists now say that magma has moved closer to the surface which means an eruption is more likely, and so a state of emergency has been called. Local reporter Jón Trausti Sigurðarson, who works for The Reykjavík Grapevine, accompanied his parents, Laufey Jónsdóttir and Sigurður Leósson, back to their home on Monday to collect their belongings.
He posted the video of the journey on Youtube, and said the situation in Icleand is still "very precarious". He further explained that the Icelandic Meteorological Office, which monitors the seismic activity in the area, is on "full alert". His parents are both retired teachers, and his father told his son that the couple had planned to spend their golden years in a "quiet, easy, nice place", but it hadn't turned out that way.
His father continued: "It had been very rough from 5pm (on Friday November 10). Everything's changed. There was constant movement, cracks, sounds, shaking glasses, everything started to break." He added that when they left their home they thought that things "didn't look good" and it was quite probable that he and his wife would never return to their home, so they were "quite happy" that they could go back and collect a few things.
His mother said they had been left shaking by the earthquakes and his father said they they believed "this is the end". The pair also shared that earthquakes had been happening for two hours continuously before the evacuation of the area was ordered. His father said it felt as though "there was a monster under our floor trying to get up".
'Mother Earth giving us a not so gentle reminder of how small we are'
Once they arrived at their home, the trio all jumped out of their car and ran to the house to get cherished belongings, which included sentimental items such as photo albums and practical items such as clothing and a television. Sigurðarson's video also revealed that people were forced to drive over the huge cracks in the road to get to their houses.
In another video for Reykjavík Grapevine, Sigurðarson spoke to a local police officer, who told him that people had been allowed to return to around 50 homes in a specific area of Grindavik, but people who lived in other areas of the town were still not allowed to return home as it was unsafe. He added that people had been "very patient and deserve praise". He also told how the crisis had brought out a sense of community spirit, with everyone trying their best to help each other.
This video also explained that authorities had returned to the area to rescue pets, animals and livestock which had still been in the town at the time of the evacuation, including thousands of chickens.
The scary reality of the earthquakes was shown through a viral video posted by local resident Caitlin Mclean on TikTok, who goes by the handle saorsawolf on the platform. In her 15 second video, which was posted on Friday November 10, prior to the evacuation, her house could be seen shaking forcefully as the earthquakes took hold. She captioned the video: "The earthquakes in Grindavík have been so strong today. Mother Earth giving us a not so gentle reminder of how small we are. I think the biggest one today was of 5.2 magnitude. A lot of people have fled the town because of them but we are safe currently. There are evacuation plans in place in case of eruption. I didn’t mean to scare anyone by posting the videos, we are safe and the houses here are built for this don’t worry."
A Youtube channel called Live from Iceland, which normally provides people with live views of the country's spectacular scenery 24/7 through various webcams, has a video stream to specifically monitor the situation in Grindavik. At the time of writing, more than 7,000 people were watching the live stream, which you can watch yourself by visiting the Live from Iceland page. The video reveals that the area is still experiences earthquakes, but no lava can be seen above the surface.
Another video of the return to Grindavik for essential items, posted to TikTok by local resident Bjorn Valur, reveals that people were given strict instructions that if they heard any "sirens, airhorns or anything similar" they must drop all of their goods and get out immediately. When he entered his home, the destruction caused by the earthquakes was obvious as his kitchen draws were all open and his belongings were strewn all over the floor. With the help of a friend, he was seen packing as much as he could in to suitcases, filling his car and then leaving again before declaring "mission accomplished".
Hope that an eruption may not happen
Ragnhildur Ágústsdóttir (aka LadyLava), the co-founder of Lava Show in Iceland, did offer some hope for residents on her TikTok channel, however. She told viewers in a video posted yesterday (Tuesday 14 November): "To be honest, scientists are quite baffled that the magma intrusion has not yet breached the surface. However, yesterday they did announce that the likeliest scenario is that there would still be an eruption.
She added: "There are still earthquakes happening continuously, although they're not very big. It's still too soon to say whether or not an eruption will happen, however, just the fact that it's not happened yet does increase the likelihood of it not happening at all."
As the situation in Grindavik remains uncertain, and people remain fearful for the future of their homes and belongings, as well as their personal safety, people worldwide are being asked to do what they can to help from afar by donating money to the Red Cross in Iceland.
Sharing some photos he had taken previously of Grindavik, local photographer Gunnar Gunnarsson, who is known as the Icelandic Explorer took to his Instagram page to appeal to his 507,000 followers. He said: "If you wish to help out the people of Grindavik, you can donate money to the Red Cross in Iceland (@raudikrossinn ) to help their efforts in supporting the people of Grindavík." The call for Red Cross donations has also been backed by Jón Trausti Sigurðarson. If you wish to donate to the cause, please visit the 'Support the Red Cross emergency response to the events in Grindavík' official Red Cross webpage.