La Soufriere Alert Level downgraded to Orange

The revised volcanic hazard map of the National Emergency Management Organization – NEMO.

By Demion McTair. Updated 10:47 p.m., Thursday, May 6, 2021, Atlantic Standard Time (GMT-4).

The Alert Level for the La Soufriére volcano has been changed to Orange, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said on radio today (May 6).

He said the decision was made, formally, yesterday (May 5) by Cabinet.

According to the National Emergency Management Organization – NEMO, “Orange Level means: Highly elevated level of seismicity or fumarolic activity or both. Eruptions may occur with less than 24 hours notice. Monitoring system continuously manned.”

Information card on Orange Alert. Published by NEMO.

The downgrade from Red Alert to Orange Alert level means that people “can go and return” to the Orange Zones, the prime minister said, adding that the government “will publish this”.

There are, however, two Orange Zone areas that are exempt.

People are not allowed to resettle in the Orange Zone communities of the lower part of Chateaubelair and the village of Fitz Hughes on the northwest of St. Vincent at this time. This is due to a large amount of ash cleaning still left to be done, the prime minister said.

Pipe-borne water and electricity have been restored in all orange zone areas.

Where the Red Zone is concerned, the prime minister said people “absolutely” cannot go into the Red Zone at this time, unless they obtain permission to so.

People from communities at the brink of the Red Zone, in areas such as Georgetown, can return to clean their houses and then leave.

There is to be no resettling of the Red Zone until the seismologists have given an all-clear to NEMO, and the government announces a decision in that regard.

Dangerous lahars (mudflows) remain a large threat to communities deep in the Red Zone where the rivers flow from the mountain of the volcano. These communities included all of those beyond the Rabacca Dry River on the northeast and beyond Fitz Hughes on the northwest of St. Vincent.

The last time the Alert level was at Orange was on April 8, just before the government announced an evacuation order of thousands of people from the north of the island due to deteriorating conditions at the volcano.

On the afternoon of April 8, the Alert Level was changed to Red, meaning an eruption of the volcano was imminent.

Seismic activity at La Soufrière has remained low since the tremor associated with the explosion and ash venting on 22 April, the UWI Seismic Research Center said today (May 6).

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