April 13, 2021
By Janice Biehn
Volcanic activity that began April 2 at La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines continues. On April 8, Prime Minister Gonsalves issued an evacuation order for those in the red zone closer to the volcano to move to shelters.
According to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), an estimated 20,000 people are displaced, including many women and children. The National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) is now active, operating 85 shelters and housing 3,586 people. Many evacuees are sheltering with friends and relatives. The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) has identified urgent need for water, buckets, folding cots, toiletries, blankets, field tents, kitchen utensils and sleeping mats.
Ashes seem to be the main issue for the neighbouring islands. Even Barbados is receiving much of the ashes due to the wind direction.
Naba Gurung, PWRDF’s Humanitarian Response Coordinator, has been in regular contact with the Anglican Alliance facilitator and Anglican church representatives in the region. Parishes in the neighbouring islands of Grenada and St. Lucia, as well as the seven other dioceses in the Church in the Province of the West Indies, are actively collecting donations and coordinating with their government disaster response mechanisms. PWRDF will issue a $5,000 solidarity grant to support these Anglican initiatives on the ground.
“This is surely a trying time for us all in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, because at the same time we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and the realities related to both, along with all the other challenges of our lives,” write the Rt. Rev’d C. Leopold Friday, Bishop of the Windward Islands, in a pastoral letter.
“The present experience may cause us to wrestle with our faith, but it does not define who we are, our moments of wrestling must be seen as stepping stones to deeper faith, growth and maturity. They enable us to be more aware and sensitive to that which brings us all to life; that which is essential to our human existence. They provide opportunities for us to turn away from that which deadens our hearts and minds, so that we may be messengers of hope.”
Among the many supporters who have contacted Bishop Friday, he notes in his letter his appreciation in hearing from Archbishop Gregory Kerr-Wilson from their Companion diocese of Calgary. “Priests and people from USA and elsewhere have been in touch with me and other clergy in the diocese and they have asked to extend their greetings and to you and to assure you of their support and prayers at this time.”
How can you help?
If you are able to support the needs of the people coping with displacement due to the volcanic eruption, please go to pwrdf.org/give-today and click on Emergency Response, or click here, then add “Volcano relief in St. Vincent” to the notes section. You may also call Donor Relations Officer Mike Ziemerink at 416-822-9083, leave a voicemail toll free at 1-866-308-7973 or send a cheque with a memo “Volcano relief in St. Vincent” to 80 Hayden St. Toronto, Ontario, M4Y 3G2.