US supports St Vincent volcano response

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Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Dr Ralph Gonsalves (L) and US Ambassador Linda Taglialatela

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — The US government has mobilized a multi-tier, interagency approach to bring much-needed relief to the people of St Vincent and the Grenadines. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) recently announced an increase of US$100,000 in disaster relief for people affected by violent eruptions of the La Soufrière volcano.

Partnering with the St Vincent Red Cross, USAID will fund the distribution of emergency food and relief supplies including hygiene kits, fuel, mattresses, and portable stoves. This announcement follows the US$40,000 in USAID assistance that fuelled vehicles to evacuate Vincentians living in the Red Zones and helped the St. Vincent Red Cross stand up their emergency evacuation centers immediately after the increased seismic activity.

The US Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) is funding US$60,000 in humanitarian assistance projects, which will deliver personal protective equipment and shelter supplies to St Vincent. Multiple citizen organizations in the United States, including those of the St. Vincent diaspora, have also reached out to help.

US Ambassador Linda Taglialatela has been in direct communication with prime minister Gonsalves as well as regional partners that are rendering assistance to the island country. “Our primary concern is the safety and security of the people of St Vincent. We have planned and prepared for situations like this. Now is the time to prove that all the training has been worth it,” she said.

The USAID–USGS Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) continues to support the University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre to monitor the volcano’s activity. These teams have been collaborating closely since December 2020, when there was an initial rise in La Soufrière’s activity. In February, VDAP contributed US$100,000 in equipment to build three seismic stations and purchase radios to enhance communications in St Vincent.

Within the last year, part of US$1.8 million in USAID regional assistance has supported the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology’s use of drones and satellite imagery to provide climate data and relay information to disaster management authorities.

US$200,000 specifically funded the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency’s (CDEMA) work with the St Vincent National Emergency Management Office (NEMO) and upgrades to its emergency operation centers.

La Soufriere St Vincent scientific update – 15/04/21 6:00 am

  1. Seismic activity at La Soufrière continued to follow the established pattern with bands of tremor about between 13 and 15 hours apart separated by swarms of small long-period earthquakes.
  2. The latest band of tremor started at about 2:30 am and was associated with increased venting.
  3. The volcano continues to erupt explosively and has now begun to generate pyroclastic density currents – hot (200°C-700°C), ground-hugging flows of ash and debris.
  4. Its current pattern of explosions appears to be episodic (stop-start) with increasing periods between eruptions and less energy.
  5. Explosions and accompanying ashfall, of similar or larger magnitude, are likely to continue to occur over the next few days impacting St Vincent and neighbouring islands.
  6. The volcano is at alert level Red

Visit GNS Science for #GlobalAshImpact posters – the latest research-informed material for concise best practice information for critical infrastructure managers to effectively prepare for, respond to, and recover from ash-producing volcanic eruptions. https://tinyurl.com/2w93f3hf

Visit the International Volcanic Health Hazard Network for volcanic ash information resources: www.ivhhn.org/information

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