On Friday, April 9, La Soufrière, the highest mountain peak on the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, erupted forcing more than 20,000 people to evacuate. Ash and smoke completely filled the sky, blanketing neighborhoods and streets across the island on Saturday, and to other islands like Barbados. The ash is expected to fall for the next few days, possibly weeks, and could reach as far as Jamaica and parts of South America, according to local officials. Officials also expect another larger eruption to occur.
The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is working with local authorities in the Caribbean to coordinate relief efforts.
“We’ve discovered there are major gaps in basic needs, including food, water, hygiene and cleaning kits and personal protective equipment,” says Alexander Isaacs, ADRA’s Caribbean Union director, “The needs are widespread, and we are working round the clock to get these essential items to those impacted.”
ADRA has been working with local Adventist Churches under the Caribbean Union and local authorities to set up shelters and provide up to 200 to 300 meals a day. At least ten Adventist schools and churches are designated at official shelters to house evacuees. Due to increasing demands, meal distributions will double over the coming days as part of the response effort.
"The eruption severely impacted crops and trees and shut down water supply and power lines throughout the entire island. A major concern is the air quality around the island, which could impact people with respiratory issues. Another issue is having to also deal with COVID-19 infections, which remains a threat to people being forced to evacuate and congregate in shelters,” says Isaacs.
La Soufrière volcano’s deadliest recorded eruption occurred on May 6, 1902, killing nearly 1,600 people, according to a news report. The last eruption to occur on the island took place in April 1979, with no reported casualties.
To assist with ADRA’s emergency response in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, visit ADRA.org/Disasters.