Mixed feelings about disaster response effort in St. Vincent » EntornoInteligente

Mixed feelings about disaster response effort in St. Vincent

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Entornointeligente.com / Search form Search Main menu Home News Business Sports Columns Contact Us E-Paper Panelists as they discussed ‘The Impact of the La Soufrière volcano on the Region’ on the Debrief TV Show recently.

Mixed feelings about disaster response effort in St. Vincent Fri, 04/16/2021 – 5:45am Whilst there is a view that officials in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have generally handled what has been a major natural disaster reasonably well so far, there are others who believe that in terms of the disaster response, the situation could have been better handled.

During a recent hosting of The Debrief TV Show, a round-table panel discussion examining pressing issues here in Barbados and across the region, a number of panelists debated the matter, whilst focusing on “The Impact of the La Soufrière volcano on the Region”.

Vincentian Anthony Dennie, a Product Development Officer who operates the Vincentian Cultural Connection Channel (VC3), acknowledged that it has been a rough time for the citizens of St. Vincent to date, since the volcano erupted. He noted that a number of Vincentians who experienced the volcanic eruption back in April 1979, believed that they could deal with any subsequent eruptions in the same way they did that one, but they were in for a rude awakening. He however has defended the Vincentian government’s efforts at evacuating citizens in the red and orange zones, close to the volcano, just before the eruption last Friday. In his opinion, he said that it likely would have been a challenge to get persons moving to safe zones sooner and also into shelters.

“It has certainly been some rough days for us in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. You in Barbados would have had significant ashfall and such is the case for us over the last few days in St. Vincent. We have had huge amounts of ashfall, even in the green zone – the safe zone,” Dennie, who is in the green zone at present, commented.

He added, “This certainly has accounted for persons being displaced, but I think the Government has done a fairly good job, first and foremost, in terms of providing the shelters and providing meals for persons. There have even been some situations with the elderly. It has been difficult to house them in shelters, because they need that (extra) care and several of them have been housed in hotels and apartments, where they can get that love and care that is so very much needed.”

Meanwhile, St. Vincent resident Coldrick Byron said, “The impact has been very scary, because from the time the order was given for evacuation on Thursday, we were all prepared in a way. But I believe that some people did not take it that this eruption would have been as huge and it kind of got some people off track.”

However, Dr. Ashley John, a community activist and NGO leader who is currently in Bequia, indicated that he has worked in the field of disaster management for some time and based on his knowledge, he suggested that the evacuation process for Vincentians should have been made earlier than last Thursday and the shelters should have been better stocked and prepared to feed and house persons sheltered there.

“I am a community disaster manager for over 20-plus years and I am a returning Vincentian also and to be quite honest with you, I have had some very deep concerns about how these disasters are managed in our country. I heard Mr. Dennie giving a good picture about how he felt it was well done, but to me, I think it was done too late and it was not very well prepared, because you had 40-plus bulletins,” he stressed.

“I remember when the increase in the tremors started, the steam was so much that I felt that the evacuation should probably have started around Monday, instead of cutting it so close. Considering the distance these people were at in the red zone, the orange zone, the road infrastructure we have, the shelters and to get to them and so on, it created a lot of bottlenecks,” he lamented.

“Most of these people went into these shelters and they did not have supplies. The shelters were not ready. There were reports coming out of children sleeping on cold grounds and the elderly and so on,” he stressed.

He also suggested that based on the list of supplies the island’s National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) issued earlier on after the event, based on his training, there should have been a lot more supplies in stock and on hand for citizens.

He essentially said, “We were caught with our pants down.”

Mr. Dennie however begged to differ, stressing that the authorities could only be guided by the science and the scientific officials, and once the evacuation order was issued, whilst it was not a smooth evacuation process, there were no casualties or major problems on that end. He also pointed out that whilst there were initially some teething problems in terms of the operation of the shelters, this is no longer the case. (RSM)

LINK ORIGINAL: Barbados Advocate

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