This flash update is produced by OCHA Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean in collaboration with humanitarian partners. It covers the period from March to April 2021. OCHA will continue to monitor the present situation.
16 - 20k
Estimated number of affected persons/evacuees
Persons in shelters
Potentially affected due to island wide shut off in water supply
Approximately required to support the response (US$)
On 9 April at 8:41 am an explosive eruption began at the La Soufrière Volcano in Saint. Vincent. This is a culmination of the seismic activity that began on April 8 and ash plumes of up to 20,000 feet were observed heading east. 3 Satellite imagery can be seen here.
On April 9, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) indicated that sixty-two (62) shelters were occupied with 2,318 persons and eight (8) other shelters are activated but unoccupied. There is an undisclosed number of self-evacuees, who went to family and friends. These numbers are expected to change in the coming days. On April 8 over 600 persons were also evacuated through the use of maritime assets.
On 8 April 2021, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves issued an immediate evacuation order for those persons living in the red zones and raised the alert level to red, indicating that an eruption is in progress or likely without warning.
On 8 April 2021, seismic activity at La Soufrière Volcano changed significantly when the seismic station closest to the summit began recording low-level seismic tremors. The volcano entered a heightened period of activity indicative of a fresh batch of magma either near to or approaching the surface. The possibility for activity to move to an explosive phase increased significantly. There is also a possibility of concurrent volcanic/seismic unrest in other neighboring islands.
FORECASTED IMPACTS and NEEDS
Food Security: It is expected that people displaced from the RED area will require support since there will be extensive damage on crops from ash fallout.
Health: Sulfur dioxide gases is of concern mainly to the people in the surrounding area. There is need to develop modeling for impact of gases, especially due to the impact of ash clouds o ver time. Ash plumes and sulfur dioxide may cause extensive disruptions and ash fallout could reach as far as Barbados. This may cause further respiratory irritations and complications for individuals in COVID-19 isolation centres as well as people with sensitive airways such as children, older adults, and people with lung disease such as asthma. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, cleaning supplies, gloves, and additional surveillance are still required. The SVG Ministry of Health has yet to confirm the need for medical hospitals and has initiated the process of PCR testing and vaccination of persons in shelters.
Shelter: Shelters do not have auxiliary electricity supply which poses a potential issue should there be a power outage. The National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) has published the final list of 105 emergency shelters that will be used by communities evacuated from the RED and ORANGE zones. It has been indicated that evacuees will continue to follow all COVID-19 protocols with the regular usage of masks, temperature checks and emergency spacing to allow for social distancing amongst families. While vaccination to enter the shelters is not mandatory, vaccinations are being requested for persons going to the hotel shelters. There are bilateral discussions with neighboring countries regarding the reception and provision of temporary support for displaced persons, including shelter, feeding and social services, medical and school arrangements, COVID-19 protocols, and immigration procedures.
WASH: The Central Water and Sewerage Authority (CWSA) have shut down water supply from all systems given the conditions of the ash fallout. The Government has indicated that they will require a lot of bottle water as initial supplies.
Protection: In most of the shelters identified (public schools and churches), the bathrooms, and shower facilities are not adequate. Women and children may require additional support if there is an overcrowding of shelters and there is a possibility of an increase of endemic infectious diseases amidst an ongoing pandemic.
Logistics: The UWI Seismic Research Institute stated that helicopter support is needed for essential deployment of equipment on the volcano and to facilitate the movement of field staff. The Argyle International Airport and AIA Cargo Terminal are also currently closed until further notice.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
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