Camillo Gonsalves provides sobering update on impact of volcanic eruptions

Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Information Technology in St. Vincent and the Grenadines has provided up update on the La Soufriere volcano eruptions.

Here is that report: Explosive events are ongoing. The island is covered in ash, from a dusting/few inches in the south to many feet in the north.

The immediate evacuation was somewhat chaotic, but largely successful. Conditions in the shelters are very uneven. Some are adequate, others less so. We were probably two weeks too slow in acquiring additional cots, so a few thousand cots are still in Miami awaiting clearance to fly down (ash has closed airspace) as such, many people are sleeping on the floor. That situation is slowly being resolved with donations and makeshift solutions.

We believe that about 20,000 people will be internally displaced for up to 3 or 4 months. Historically, the volcano keeps going intermittently for a couple months.

So far, Infrastructural damage is not as bad as feared. Not a great deal of lava flow in the direction of villages, just ash and rocks. A number of homes have been destroyed, under the weight of ash or reported small fires ignited by hot projectiles. Minor damage by rocks ejected from the volcano. However most crops on island will be lost, and untold livestock.

The big immediate challenge is the comfort, care and safety of evacuees. COVID is a huge underlying threat given the conditions in which people are housed. Other islands are offering accommodations but requiring vaccination first. Most people in the rural north have been vaccine skeptical. This will complicate matters tremendously, and likely lead to big outbreaks.

Immediate needs are water, bedding, respiratory equipment and supplies, and sanitary products for babies/elderly/women.