Residents living in the Red and Orange Zones in St Vincent and the Grenadines have been told to heighten their preparedness in the event activity at the La Soufriere volcano increases.
This was communicated to them two days ago after scientists noted a change in seismic activity with the ongoing effusive eruption at the volcano.
Chateaubelair is a community that falls within the Orange Zone. Community activist Troy Prince, who lives in Chateaubelair, believes more needs to be done to prepare in the event of an evacuation.
The Chateaubelair Jetty has been prepared in case there is a need for evacuations from North Leeward.
Prince says he spoke with residents recently and one of the things that could instill confidence in them in relation to the national evacuation plan is to have one or two of the vessels earmarked to transport people to safety from North Leeward to safe havens, stationed down in the North Leeward waters.
“We have no timer on this thing. Don’t just tell us if it blows there will be vessels coming into North Leeward to transport people. We want the vessels waiting on us, not us waiting on the vessels. People are not going to wait they are going to run to safety,” says Prince.
The community activist says the road system is also a challenge. He notes the main bridge in Chateaubelair was destroyed years ago and work is ongoing on it. However, he is concerned that the pace of the work does not match the immediacy required with the volcano.
“The bypass road being used as the main cannot accommodate an evacuation because it is only one vehicle at a time could pass on that road. It is going to be chaotic. They need to ramp up operations on the bridge and show us that they are thinking about the volcano,” says Prince.
He adds villagers would also like to know which vehicles will be provided to take people out of North Leeward and whether some could be stationed in an area close by just in case.
There are concerns that the average person is being starved of necessary information in relation to the national evacuation plan and if some of these concerns are addressed it could reduce the need for panic.
Meanwhile, Codrian Simmons, ‘Dj Flip D’Maestro,’ who is also from Chateaubelair, says people still do not know what vehicles will be in place at that present time to transport the hundreds of people out of the village.
“I already envision chaos and pandemonium if the volcano erupts,” says Simmons.