Saint Lucia has been ramping up preparations after receiving information from Caribbean Disaster Management Agency (CDEMA) that La Soufrière volcano in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines may erupt.
“Based on the information an eruption is imminent,” the Director of this country’s National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), Dorine Gustave said.
However, she said officials cannot tell exactly when it will happen.
Gustave made the comments during a Monday morning update on the National Television Network (NTN).
Saint Lucia is preparing to house incoming as well as local evacuees.
But NEMO’s Deputy Director, Maria Medard, has urged locals not to panic.
She said local agencies such as the fire service and NEMO can assist if people do not know what to do.
However, communities from Dennery to Soufriere would likely experience ash and air quality issues in a volcanic eruption.
Medard said officials here are not sure about the wind direction and the impact on those communities.
“So we don’t want to leave out any communities and then these communities may be impacted.”
The NEMO Deputy Director disclosed that there’s also a tsunami risk.
Nevertheless, she said history has shown that tsunamis associated with volcanic eruptions are rare.
“We are not saying that it cannot happen,” Medard stated.
But she said officials still want people to know there’s a possibility, so they should be prepared.
Medard said the authorities have identified the Piaye Secondary and the Blanchard Primary as shelters in the South.
The NEMO Deputy Director said the Blanchard Primary will be the priority for evacuation, followed by Piaye Secondary and if needed, the Stanley Jon Odlum Secondary.
She explained that the Blanchard Primary is a priority because some people have respiratory issues.
“So we want to take them as far out of the zone as possible where they will not be affected,” Medard stated.