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La Soufriere, as seen from Rose Hall on March 25, 2020. (iWN photo)
La Soufriere, as seen from Rose Hall on March 25, 2020. (iWN photo)
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Director of the National Emergency Management Organisation, Michelle Forbes is again urging Vincentians to prepare in the event of an explosive eruption of La Soufriere.

The volcano has been erupting effusively since December and returned to its “normal” dome-building activity last Friday, after three days of elevated seismic activity.

Forbes said on VC3’s Round Table Talk on Wednesday that the cessation of the elevated seismic activity, which went on for three days last week, is no reason to become complacent.

“…we cannot sit and think it is all over because we know we are in it for the long haul,” Forbes said.

“As I keep saying, I believe we are on borrowed time, the volcano has given us enough time to get things in order and we continue to basically prepare, think about the worst-case scenarios, think about the different scenarios, whether it can happen in the night, during the day and the different types of resources we will need for each event.”

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She said that her agency continues with preparation activities, including a pre-planned tabletop simulation exercise during the heightened activity last week.

“This is not the time for us to become complacent. Not because we hear that things have quieted down last week — because we can expect to have similar events,” she said.

“This can go on for quite a while and it can go in any direction from this point on because we have already seen the signs that it can go either way. So, we cannot rest on our laurels, if you want to put it that way, but we continue to prepare, we continue to engage the communities.”

Forbes said that over the last week, in particular, NEMO has “really worked on finalising any kinks in our transportation and evacuation planning, how we are going to move people, the resources that we need to move people; we need to have that well-oiled down in the event that we actually go into an explosive eruption”. 

Meanwhile, speaking on the same programme, geologist Professor Richard Robertson said that the cessation of the heightened seismic activity puts the nation “back into that sort of uncertain period” where it is not clear what the volcano will do next. 

“So, it means that we are back into that sort of uncertain period where we know it can change rapidly and it could possibly still go explosive or to could speed up in growth or it could stop,” Robertson said. 

5 replies on “‘I believe we are on borrowed time’ — NEMO chief”

  1. alrick smart says:

    while we are speaking of contingency planning, and know we have a volcano on our island that is still active, why the govt didn’t seek to invest some that wasted money that was spent on the geothermal project and build relatively large catchments that can preserve water for a long period of time where ash or other particles can contaminate it, how are we going to deal with our water issue when the time arise? are we going back to the water dispensation trucks? if so do we have sufficient trucks to supply the people, to most folks its just the eruptions but they are not seeing the long term effects

  2. Should Schools in the Red and Orange Zones Open on April 12th?

    Due to the uncertainty as to when the volcano may go explosive, is it reasonable to open school for children and teachers living in the red and orange zones areas? As Professor Robertson clearly mentioned already, things can change rapidly and La Soufriere can erupt explosively at short notice. If La Soufriere doesn’t erupt explosively before, what happens if seismic activity changes rapidly and an explosive eruption occurs while the children and teachers are at school? Is it fair for the children to be at school awaiting for their parents or guardians to come and collect them? Is it fair for teachers to have to be waiting at school with the children until the parents and guardians arrive to collect their children? If this happens, this is going to seriously slow down the evacuation process. Children, parents, and teachers may be bathing in ash and other materials on their way hustling to get home and then prepare to evacuate as quickly as possible. I am kindly recommending to the Government and the Ministry of Education to keep schools closed in the red and orange zones areas until the volcano dilemma is over. That’s the most reasonable and wise thing to do. We may end up regretting doing otherwise. Online teaching and learning can continue for the children in the red and orange zones from April 12th. Everyone, please be alert and safe!

  3. What you believe and what the facts are is totally different.The people want facts but you are guessing this is not childs play.The next time around come up with something more positive and who knows we the people might just BELIEVE.

  4. Urlan Alexander says:

    Well madam if we are on borrowed time and you have plans in place you need to get into communities in the red and yellow zones and let rhe people know of these plans.

  5. I’m no expert at this but this increasingly doesn’t look like it will go away soon. Be very careful people; If you live in that area take your precautions; bring your family to safety first, if you loose anything it won’t be your life. 220x 3.5 magnitude earthquake can bring down a tall building. If the mountain shakes for an entire hour, that is not a good sign.

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