Eruptions rocked St. Vincent on Wednesday as much of the Caribbean island remains buried under ash. On the northern part of the island, eruptions from the La Soufriere volcano have displaced roughly 20,000 people, with 4,000 of those living in shelters around the island, government officials said Wednesday.
The National Emergency Management Organisation, or NEMO, for St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said on Facebook that “explosions and accompanying ashfall, of similar or larger magnitude, are likely to continue to occur over the next few days.”
Patrius Kerr, 26, lives in St. Vincent with her mother, boyfriend and cousins. Kerr said they were forced to evacuate their home that sits just outside the red zone. “It’s been rough,” Kerr said. “We’re exhausted. Mentally, physically, just exhausted. We’re trying our best to keep it together, but we are just exhausted.”
Kerr posted a video of her home on Twitter, showing her street covered in ash, including her dog who sits on the porch. She and her family are trying to stay indoors as much as possible to avoid inhaling all the debris.
The eruptions began Friday evening, spreading ash throughout the Caribbean island and reaching the neighboring islands of Barbados and the Grenadines. “We are facing a situation with a great deal of uncertainty and also a humanitarian crisis that is growing and may continue for weeks and months,” Didier Trebucq, U.N. Resident Coordinator for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, said at a press conference Wednesday.
Not only are the sporadic eruptions a cause for concern, but water and hygiene supply shortages combined with the Covid-19 pandemic makes it an even more challenging situation for residents and emergency officials.
The U.S. Embassy in Barbados is also coordinating with Royal Caribbean Cruises for a maritime evacuation of U.S. citizens from St. Vincent to St. Martin on Friday. Boarding will begin at 7 a.m. and there is no cost or travel fare for the evacuation, the U.S. State Department said in a press release. U.S. citizens who decide not to depart St. Vincent should be prepared to shelter in place for an undetermined amount of time. There are no plans for additional evacuations, the State Department said.
The 2021 Atlantic Hurricane Season is less than two months away and projected to be active above average with 17 named storms and eight forecasted hurricanes, four of which are predicted to become major hurricanes. “The hurricane season is upcoming and bear in the mind the first forecast from Colorado State University is indicating an above-average season,” said Elizabeth Riley, Executive Director of CDEMA, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, during a press conference. “This is going to bring another level of complexity to our colleagues in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
It’s an urgent issue, Kerr said. “We need a lot of help,” Kerr said. “Water, food, everything is running out.”