La Soufrière Volcano Disrupts Thousands in the Caribbean
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Level 3 Travel Alert on April 22, 2021, regarding the recent La Soufrière volcano eruptions on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent. St. Vincent, a southern Caribbean nation comprising of a chain of smaller islands.
La Soufrière's eruptions started on April 9, 2021, and have led to shortages of essential goods and services, including clean drinking water, sanitation, food, electricity, transportation, shelter, and medical care.
Reports indicate La Soufrière or Soufrière Saint Vincent has had five recorded explosive eruptions since 1718.
The CDC's Avoid Nonessential Travel notice stated that 'approximately two-thirds of the island is covered in a thick layer of ash. And if you 'must travel to St. Vincent & the Grenadines, pay attention to local reports about air and drinking water quality and dangerous road conditions. And obey all instructions from local authorities.'
Health concerns after a volcanic eruption include infectious disease, respiratory illness, burns, injuries from falls, and vehicle accidents related to the conditions caused by ash. The most common cause of death from a volcano is suffocation, says the CDC.
Over 12,700 evacuees are registered in public shelters, and private homes; close to 20,000 people are expected to be displaced. Entire villages have been covered in ash, buildings damaged, schools and businesses closed, crops and livestock destroyed, and residents left with limited access to clean drinking water.
The UN launched a $29.2 million global funding appeal on April 20th to aid Saint Vincent and the Grenadines citizens affected by the eruptions pledging to remain a “steadfast partner.”
As of April 21st, the State Department had increased its Travel Advisory Level for Saint Lucia to Level 4, Do Not Travel. If you intend to visit St. Vincent island, check the US Department of State's embassy website for updated information. And enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program to receive security updates and information about emergency assistance.