St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Thurs. Apr. 29, 2021– The aftereffects of the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano continue to wreak havoc on St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
The volcanic eruptions began on Friday, April 9. The St. Vincent authorities had authorized the evacuation of over 20,000 people to minimize the impacts of the volcano. The fear of further eruptions, however, have been sidelined, as seismologists suggest that La Soufriere is nearing the end of its seismic activity.
At the forefront of St. Vincent’s concerns now lies the threat of lahars, or mudslides. Lahars are mudflows caused by the combination of water and pyroclastic fluid or ash. These mudflows violently flow down from a volcano following heavy rain. Upon settling at the trough of a valley, lahars can become meters thick and as hard as cement.
As the start of the rainy season quickly approaches, this is the disastrous scenario that the Vincentians continue to face as a result of the volcanic eruption. On Thursday, April 22, heavy rains poured down on the community, causing flooding and mudslides that further devastated the communities surrounding the volcano.
Professor Richard Robertson, leading scientist and geologist, said, “The problem of mudflows on Soufriere can go on for months or even years after.” This will greatly impact the reconstructive phase of the country. St. Vincent needs to be mindful of the downflow of pyroclastic fluid during the rainy seasons. The volcano eruption alone has already deposited rocks and ash in the valleys and rivers. This causes irregular river flow that can be destructive to not only people, but nearby buildings.
Robertson advises Vincentians to refrain from building near the river valleys and the surrounding areas of the volcano. Robertson says these areas will be destroyed when the mudflow comes down. “When the hurricane and rainy season comes, it will have the problem of all that material coming down. It will not be stripped down in the first year. There is a lot of potential for damage, even after when the volcano stops erupting and has gone back to sleep,” said Robertson.