La Soufrière Eruption in St. Vincent

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an archipelago in the Caribbean, consisting of roughly 32 islands and cays–the largest of which is St. Vincent. The country achieved its independence from Great Britain in 1979, and it is currently home to roughly 110,000 people. A heavily wooded and volcanic island, the nation is also known for its rich agricultural resources and vibrant, diverse vegetation. On the morning of Friday, April 9, 2021, the largest volcano on the island, La Soufrière, erupted for the first time since 1979, sending an ash column of over 33,000 feet into the sky. Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves had initially announced a disaster alert on Thursday, citing activity from the volcano and placing the country on “red alert” signalling an imminent threat. Although the volcano had shown some activity since December 2020, it began to display more threatening signs, such as tremors, late in March 2021. As of now, no casualties have been reported, however over 20,000 people, living in the “red zone” of the volcano, have been displaced from their homes and communities due to the threat of ashfall, volcanic substances (such as volcanic blocks and bombs), and volcanic avalanches. The eruptions have caused islandwide power outages, water shortages, and transportation hazards. Also, the ash and sulfur have made the air quality extremely dangerous to those with existing respiratory problems. Another concern is the potential increase in COVID-19 infection rates for those who have been placed in shelters. In the long term, the eruption will have consequences for the country’s agriculture, native animals and their habitats, and the over 110,000 Vincentians and their now-destroyed homes. The eruptions may continue for weeks or months, but scientists warn that such activity is dangerously unpredictable. Evacuation efforts for the displaced citizens have begun, with several cruise lines transporting people from St. Vincent to neighboring islands. These neighboring islands, who have temporarily opened their borders to the thousands of evacuees, are also extending aid in the form of emergency supplies donations.

The members of the Caribbean Student Alliance extend our thoughts to those affected by this catastrophe and continue to offer support to anyone who may need it at this time.

Please see additional resources for information and ways to help.

A Go Fund Me has been set up for disaster relief.

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