(By Ashford Peters) – National Emergency Management Organization’s (NEMO) director Michelle Forbes says authorities have been working in response to the threat posed by the effusive eruptions at the La Soufriere volcano and the country is at a high level of preparation in the event the situation turns for the worse.
“I can tell you, the committees themselves have been meeting for the past week or so. So, we know in each of the communities we have a district disaster committee, NEMO group or Red Cross group. And the communities have already met among themselves to start to determine, reviewing their plans. Because, we would have worked with them over the years in determining, or for them to identify who are the vulnerable persons within the communities who will need assistance in evacuating, on mobility issues, also the rendezvous points so they know once an evacuation order is given, for example, they know exactly the point where they have to go for transportation to pick them up; for those who don’t have transportation,” the NEMO director said on the ‘Issue at Hand’ interactive programme on WE FM radio last Sunday.
Forbes said the communities in the orange zone have already met and have started to reassess their emergency plans and looking at events that happened in the Tradewinds exercises last year and the issue of mobilizing.
“So, they have already met and identified persons who will really need the assistance, and also to refresh what you call the rendezvous points or the muster points they will go to in the event of an eruption and an order is given and they need to evacuate,” Forbes said.
The NEMO director said the committees in North Leeward have already been asking residents if they have families or friends they can go to stay by in the green/safe zone which extends from Biabou in South Windward to Barrouallie in Central Leeward and includes Mesopotamia, Greiggs and the Grenadines.
“So, we’re encouraging persons to start making arrangements. We are not alarming anyone. We know that you are living with this risk for some time and there is a possibility that something is going to happen sometime.
“There is always a possibility that we are going to have an explosive eruption when you have activities like this. So, you want for us to start preparing in the event that this happens.
“So, this is what we have been saying for quite a number of years because our volcano is such that it can get active very quickly, within a short space of time,” Forbes said.
La Soufriere last erupted in 1979. That was an explosive eruption. There was no report of any related death. Approximately 20,000 persons were evacuated.