Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Executive Director Elizabeth Riley is urging good Samaritans and those donating to St Vincent and the Grenadines to prevent a secondary disaster on the island by only sending relief items needed by volcano ravaged Vincentians.
Speaking during a briefing yesterday in Barbados, Riley said after the April 9 eruption of the La Soufriere Volcano 20,000 people were displaced after an evacuation order was implemented for residents of St Vincent living in the red zone or in close proximity to the volcano.
Riley said based on information collected by the authorities 3,984 people are staying in the 87 public shelters across the island.
She said more information is being gathered to help determine how many Vincentians opted to be housed with relatives and friends.
“The emergency operations centre is in the process of collating the statistics on those numbers and their geographical locations. This morning the registration tallied 2,048 persons who are housed with 446 families,” Riley said.
Riley explained that relief efforts are being mobilised by CDEMA and regional countries assisting St Vincent and the Grenadines are doing so through their respective national disaster relief or government agencies.
While she said CDEMA and no doubt the Prime Minister of St Vincent and the Grenadines are pleased with the response to the disaster, she pleased with all the entities working to help to do so in a uniform manner.
“I want to however urge you to coordinate with your national disaster offices. It is very important that you do this….Given the level of pressure that they’re under (people of St Vincent) we absolutely don’t want to create another layer of a challenge for them to be sending relief which is outside of the coordinating mechanisms. We don’t want to create a secondary disaster by overloading the country with items not prioritised at this time.”
Riley added St Vincent has also appealed for financial support and those wishing to help in the region and around the world are encouraged to do so.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Education in Barbados Sanita Bradshaw has revealed just how badly the ashfall from the La Soufriere volcano has impacted the island.
Minister Bradshaw explained that ashfall has not only covered homes, but it has now led to the postponement of the physical reopening of schools.
The Barbadian Education Minister said schools were set to open on April 19, to combat the mental health toll the COVID-19 restrictions took on students and teachers.
But she explained that can no longer happen and now a massive clean-up exercise is underway in Barbados.
” No school has been spared from the impact of the ash just as no household across Barbados has been spared. We have responsibility for over 105 schools from nursery to tertiary and therefore over the course of the last few days, we’ve made a determination that we have obviously to take certain actions to get the schools ready to return students and teachers to the classroom environment. So far the auxiliary staff have started where they can to clean up on the inside and outside of the buildings.”