A nation in crisis: Covid-19, Volcanic Eruptions and Flooding

By Demion McTair. Updated 11:07 a.m., Thursday, April 29, 2021, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).

As the nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines starts to count its losses from the explosive volcanic eruptions which began on April 9, widespread flooding is now taking place in the country.

Vincentians woke up today (April 29) to the capital city inundated with floodwaters, houses sliding off hills, rivers bursting their banks, and landslides happening in several areas.

Flooding is ongoing and the losses incurred will be determined in the coming days.

A lot of the flooding is taking place in the Green (safe) zone where most people on the island of St. Vincent currently reside.

Twenty days ago, the volcano started to erupt explosively, causing widespread damage to agriculture and infrastructure, mainly in the north of the country.

More than 12,000 people have been displaced and are in public and private shelters.

The most preliminary estimates from the World Bank state that in the Red and Orange (danger) zones surrounding the volcano, the assets at risk total US$387.5 million, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said on April 21.

The La Soufriere volcano is still in a state of unrest, the Seismic Research Center said on Wednesday (April 28) in a scientific update.

Lahars and significant mudflows have been taking place as heavy rains wash out volcanic debris and ash from the mountains.

Apart from the flooding and the ongoing volcanic eruptions, the country is still battling with the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are 133 active Covid-19 cases, five (5) of which have been recorded at one shelter housing displaced people.

To compound the country’s current woes is the prediction of an above-average Atlantic hurricane season by the Colorado State University.

According to the Washington Post, the 2021 hurricane season which begins on June 1 is set to become the sixth-consecutive season with above-average activity, and there’s a chance it could even approach “extra active” status.

“The forecasters are calling for 17 named storms, compared with an average of 12.1, and eight hurricanes, compared with an average of 6.4.,” the Washington Post reported.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ road to recovery will be long and hard, prime minister Gonsalves says.

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