'Volcano Caught Us With Our Pants Down, and It's Very Devastating'

After eruption, St. Vincent is running out of water
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 13, 2021 4:52 PM CDT
Volcano-Wracked Island Is Running Out of Water
Volcanic ash covers the roofs of homes after the eruption of La Soufriere volcano in Wallilabou, on the western side of the Caribbean island of St. Vincent, Monday, April 12, 2021.   (AP Photo/Orvil Samuel)

Leaders of volcano-wracked St. Vincent said Tuesday that water is running short as heavy ash contaminates supplies, and they estimated that the eastern Caribbean island will need hundreds of millions of dollars to recover from the eruption of La Soufriere. Between 16,000 to 20,000 people have been evacuated from the island’s northern region, where the exploding volcano is located, with more than 3,000 of them staying at more than 80 government shelters, the AP reports. The volcano, which had seen a low-level eruption since December, experienced the first of several major explosions on Friday morning, and volcanologists say activity could continue for weeks. Falling ash and pyroclastic flows have destroyed crops and contaminated water reservoirs.

Dozens of people stood in lines on Tuesday for water or to retrieve money sent by friends and family abroad. Among those standing in one crowd was retired police officer Paul Smart. "The volcano caught us with our pants down, and it’s very devastating," he said. “No water, lots of dust in our home. We thank God we are alive, but we need more help at this moment.” Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said Tuesday that no casualties have been reported since the first big blast from the volcano early Friday, "and we have to try and keep that record." He thanked neighboring nations for shipments of items including cots, respiratory masks, and water bottles and tanks. Another explosion was reported Tuesday morning, sending another massive plume of ash into the air.

(More St. Vincent stories.)

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