In the wake of Monday’s devastating eruption of La Soufrière, local officials and neighboring islands are doing everything they can to assist residents of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. As many as 20,000 people have been evacuated and displaced by the “huge explosion” that occurred only several days after a lesser eruption caused concern throughout the entire Eastern Caribbean.
Some residents initially refused to leave their homes, remaining in serious danger as farms and crops were completely wiped out and the island’s fresh water sources decimated by the falling ash. As one expert put it, according to the Associated Press, “Anything that was there, man, animal, anything… they are gone. And it’s a terrible thing to say it.”
In response to this disaster, empty cruise ships were dispatched to help with evacuations and other islands have assisted St. Vincent with donations of cots, masks, and water bottles. However, with approximately 3,800 people reportedly staying in 87 government shelters and at least 446 families hosting more than 2,000 people, resources are already extremely low. Drilling is underway for fresh water, as people wait in lines to receive whatever is available, but the point remains clear—there simply isn’t enough.
Throughout the week, fundraisers have been launched to raise money and gather supplies for the people of St. Vincent and lending her star power and voice to the effort is rapper M.I.A., who recalls writing her first song in Bequia and refers to this nation as “my island away from my island for the last 20 years.” In a passionate Instagram post, she announced the creation of a GoFundMe page that currently sits just below 50 percent of the £100,000 goal.
M.I.A. is hardly alone, however. Invest Caribbean, an agency created by a Caribbean entrepreneur, also launched a GoFundMe account that has raised more than $33,000 of its $100,000 goal to date. The UK-SVG Friendship Trust has already raised £148,967 of its own £250,000 goal, while also asking people to aid with the donation of hygiene kits and female sanitary napkins.
In terms of supplies, the National Emergency Management Organization of SVG has asked for, among other items, 30,000 blankets, 10,000 folding cots, 25,000 goggles and 1000 respirator masks with filters. Collection efforts are underway from Barbados to South Florida for local drop-offs or shipping efforts.