St Vincent Affected by Volcanic Eruption

First published on: 12th April 2021

On Friday 9th April, the La Soufrière volcano erupted, displacing up to 20,000 residents of the island of St Vincent in the Caribbean. The eruption caused seismic tremors and produced a large amount of ash. Numerous houses have collapsed under the weight of the ash, leaving families without homes. Clouds of hot gas and volcanic matter have spread across the island. Ash has even fallen on Barbados, which lies 111 miles to the east of St Vincent. With the old dome of the volcano having burst, pyroclastic flows have travelled downhill from the volcano and destroyed whatever lay in their path. These flows travel at an average speed of 62 miles per hour and can reach temperatures of up to 1000 degrees Celsius.

La Soufrière’s volcanic activity has also caused widespread power outages across St Vincent. The island’s National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) says that “the majority of the country is out of power and covered in ash”. NEMO increased the volcano alert level from Orange to Red on 8th April, with the alert level remaining at its highest for the past week. The ashfall has also affected the water supply in St Vincent, leaving many people without access to clean water.

All church services in St Vincent have been cancelled until further notice and some churches in the east of Barbados have also cancelled their church services. Residents of St Vincent are being sheltered in churches, schools and community centres. The island is in need of essential supplies such as food, water and electricity as well as face masks and sanitiser to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The Diocese of the Windward Islands is working with the National Emergency Management Organisation, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Christian Council and other churches on the island to evacuate and house residents. There are currently around 500 people staying in church properties and the Diocese of the Windward Islands is aiming to house a further 1000 people.

In solidarity with the Diocese of the Windward Islands and the people of St Vincent, USPG is sending financial support from its Rapid Response Fund.

At this time, we ask supporters to be very cautious in responding to any unverified requests for emergency funding seen on social media, as we are aware that such requests have been circulated online.

 

Above: Ash clouds rising from the La Soufrière volcano