By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. April 14, 2021: The US government on Tuesday joined other governments that have begun finally pitching in to help Saint Vincent and the Grenadines battle the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano amid the COVID-19 pandemic, that has already devastated its economic livelihood – tourism.
USAID announced $100,000 in immediate disaster relief for people affected by the violent eruptions of the volcano on the island of Saint Vincent. In a statement Tuesday, USAID said the assistance follows support already provided to the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines’ National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) for evacuation efforts and the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Red Cross to assess humanitarian needs.
The UK has provided an initial £200,000, via the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office to support the regional response, through the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) even as the UWI Seismic Research Center today said there was another eruption of the volcano at 11 PM EST on Tuesday night.
NEMO, the National Emergency Management Organization, said the ongoing explosive event at La Soufriere continued on Tuesday night. The disaster agency says pyroclastic flows were heading down the eastern side of the volcano at 10.48 pm following an explosive eruption. Today, Professor Richard Robertson of the UWI Seismic Research Center told residents of the Red Zone in view of pyroclastic flows which have been heading towards the East to get out if you can.
“It’s not a good way to go. Don’t put others at risk. Now is the chance,” he added.”
Venezuela has sent 20 tons of humanitarian aid to Saint Vincent on Monday after the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano, in the north of the island. The shipment is part of aid that will begin to arrive over the next few days, coordinated by the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, (ALBA).
Guyana has promised to dispatch a shipload of emergency relief supplies as well while the government of St. Kitts & Nevis has announced a donation of over EC$1 million dollars and other humanitarian aid to assist.
Meanwhile, within 24 hours of the eruption, UNICEF provided an estimated 9,000 people, including children, with access to safe water and hygiene services in the evacuation shelters. These critical supplies included collapsible water bladders, collapsible water containers, purification tablets, and dignity kits. Several regional companies have already pitched in, donating water and other emergency supplies to the effort.
Explosive eruptions from Saint Vincent Island’s La Soufrière Volcano at 8:41 am on April 9, 2021, resulted in pyroclastic flows and widespread ashfall on the island, as well as ashfall on the country’s Grenadine islands, according to the Government of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (GoSVG).
An estimated 18,000 of the 19,000 individuals residing in heavily affected areas of Saint Vincent had evacuated as of April 11, international media report. Nearly 3,600 people took shelter in 87 official evacuation sites as priority needs among populations at official shelters and in the community include food, health, and water, sanitation, and hygiene assistance, according to the United Nations. In addition, the volcanic activity damaged agricultural land and infrastructure on the island, and water systems were inoperational due to contamination risk. The GoSVG evacuated residents from high-risk areas, prepared and operated evacuation shelters, and continued to monitor activity at La Soufrière, while conducting assessments of affected areas.
The volcanic ash and gas cloud from the La Soufriere eruption on the Caribbean island has impacted several other Caribbean countries, including Barbados, St. Lucia, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago and is approaching Spain. Spanish newspaper SUR said the national weather agency, Aemet is monitoring the phenomenon, caused by an eruption of La Soufriere.
CARIBBEAN DIASPORA SUPPORT
Several Caribbean Diaspora organizations have already pitched into help asSaint Vincent and the Grenadines battles the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has already devastated its economic livelihood – tourism.
Among the major organizations already hard at work since Friday April 9, 2021, is Invest Caribbean, the global private sector investment agency, founded by US-based Caribbean-born journalist, entrepreneur and long-time advocate, Felicia J. Persaud.
Persaud has teamed up with the Ritzury Group of Barbados to launch the Saint Vincent Volcano Disaster GoFundMe to help buy needed supplies to and ship them in for shelter residents before moving on to tackle the medium and long-term needs by mobilizing much of its connections to help ramp up donations and spread the word.
“This is a major disaster, the likes of which I have never seen in my lifetime,” said Persaud. “As a Caribbean born immigrant, it is imperative that we help.”
In the UK, H.E Cenio Lewis, High Commissioner of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, working closely with the UK-SVG FRIENDSHIP TRUST, is also raising money as is Shaun Saunders of Pensacola, Florida and the UK’s Nally Pierre and singer, M.I.A.
In New York City, the West Indian American Day Carnival Association (WIADCA) Vincy Strong Volcano Relief Drive is asking for food items, and personal care and household items. Daily drop-off dates and locations: Saturday, April 10 – Sunday, April 18, 1545 Nostrand Avenue 12236. Contact for pick up/drop off: Naphtali: 917 680 6338, Janell: 929 255 7626 Nickay: 347 737 1678.
In Canada, GlobalMedic, a Canadian charity and disaster response agency, led by Rahul Singh says it will be difficult to get aid to people in need because most planes can’t fly into a volcanic area.
The group is sending down sea containers full of aid instead, equipped with emergency kits to help displaced families. The kits include dried food, such as rice, lentils, and pasta.
The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) issued a list of supplies needed including 30,000 blankets, 10,000 folding cots, 25,000 goggles and 1000 respirator masks with filters.
In addition to the urgent request for water the following items are also needed:
• Water tanks (800 and 1000 gallons)
• Folding cots
• Portable potties
• Field tents
• Field kitchens
• Sleeping mats
• Respiratory masks
• Reflective vests
• Caution tapes
• Hygiene kits
• Liquid soaps