• U.S.

The Azores: Shucks! No Lava

1 minute read

For seven days, the isle of Sao Jorge in the Portuguese Azores pitched like a cork. It was another of the unsettling earthquakes that periodically shake the middle-Atlantic archipelago. As Sao Jorge’s 20,000 inhabitants fled into the streets, at least 1,200 of their stone and tile houses crumbled, and the local jailer saved the lives of his five prisoners by freeing them on parole shortly before the hoosegow collapsed. An eleven-ship rescue fleet evacuated 1,800 islanders, whose chief, and understandable, concern was the plight of their abandoned unmilked cows.

At week’s end, however, the shocks eased—and at that there was even some disappointment, reflected by the housewife who complained: “All that scare and trouble, and no lava.” The truth is that many Sao Jorgeans were hoping to share the fate of the victims of a 1957 volcanic eruption which poured ash over the neighboring island of Faial. The U.S. Congress passed Public Law 85-892 providing 1,500 special nonquota immigrant visas for destitute Faialeans, and they sailed off happily to live in the U.S.

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