In the wake of the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano which occurred yesterday morning in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), one pastor is concerned the island might face a double crisis as it was still battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
First response shelter coordinator and SVG National Director for Child Evangelism Fellowship, Pastor Kelron Harry told Guardian Media during a telephone interview, should the 68 shelters reach capacity; people’s homes may also have to become places of accommodation.
“We are talking about 20,000 people that will be affected from that red zone. So it is not just shelters. I believe we have to work hand in hand. Homes have been opened because people would have to open their homes and so on also.”
But with the region at the heights of the pandemic, he fears this can also cause a double crisis for the people of St Vincent.
“This of great concern to me because how we manage people in this time will be very critical and will say a lot about us and the coronavirus pandemic has added to the stress because now we will not only have to be concerned about people safe from the volcano, but we have to keep them safe from infection…from this troubling virus,” lamented Harry.
Regarding social distancing at the shelters, he could not say how this could be effectively done but was hoping the vaccination drive ongoing in SVG might help.
Harry who is also the District Superintendent at Church of the Nazarene in Arnos Vale, St Vincent said people managing shelters would have to use compassion as a driving force at this time.
Responding to Guardian Media’s question on the mental and emotional state of Vincentians at this time, Harry said people were experiencing much anxiety.
“Persons are anxious, because of the unknown factor. With this volcano, we don’t know how destructive it will be. We don’t know when it will become that destructive. Everything is just like sit and wait or do what you can do and wait and see. So it creates a very high level of anxiety. So leadership is very important at this time. And we trust that guidelines, directions, communication will be constant so that people can know what is happening and know what they need to do.”
Harry who spoke with Guardian from the town of Calliaqua in SVG where he was heading to the Calliaqua Anglican Primary School—a shelter—disclosed the authorities announced a cut of the water supply just after noon yesterday to prevent water contamination. He said every bit of help St Vincent was receiving from the NGO’s in T&T and other parts of the region was paramount.