On April 22nd the world joined hands to celebrate World Earth Day. However, in the midst of the celebrations the La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines continues to live up to its long and tragic history of eruptions. April 9th is the first time in over 40 years that the volcano erupted, sending a thick cloud of smoke 20,000 feet into the sky, spewing ash for miles and miles.
La Soufriere, has a French origin and it means (sulphur outlet.) The last time La Soufriere erupted was in 1979, this lasted for four months and previously in 1902 which lasted for one year and 1600 people were killed. This time, 20,000 people or approximately 18% of the entire population have been evacuated amid the ash fall and pyroclastic lava flows.
Although the eruption has not been fatal, the damage done on the island has been devastating, to say the least. Ash from the ongoing explosions has fallen on Barbados and other nearby islands. With agriculture wiped out from the island the government of SVG will likely need to tap into debt markets. The University of the West Indies Seismic Research Team, led by Professor Richard Robertson says the volcano is far from finished.
This is a huge humanitarian crisis developing on the island. But how huge exactly is it? Let us look at the analytics:
We at Media InSite continue to track the mentions for La Soufriere since its inception. For the period April 8th-25th La Soufriere was mentioned 158.4K times across all digital platforms. We saw Twitter had the most shares and dominated in the current trending news with its hashtag #LaSoufriere generating 130.5K results. Online News came in 2nd with 10.6K, while Blogs came in 3rd with 9. In terms of Reach Vs Engagement - Twitter again took the lead with 3.7B reaches and 365.6K engagement. Some of the top influencers : Next - Most active author (https://www.democraticunderground.com),Volcano Watching (VolcanoWatching) and The Pigeon Express (@TPE_connect).
While the world keeps a watchful eye on the volcanic activity on the island, relief effort, prayers and well-wishes continue to pour in from far and wide.
bmobile is helping its customers stay connected to their loved ones in St. Vincent and the Grenadines by offering free calls to the country. The initiative, which took effect at 12:01 a.m. on Saturday 10th April, has been extended and will now end on Saturday 14th August at 11:59 p.m. Calls can be made from all bmobile prepaid and postpaid mobile numbers at no cost to the customer. For prepaid customers, no credit will be required to place the call, nor will any credit be deducted from their existing balance. Postpaid customers who call SVG during this period will see no additional charges added to their monthly bill.
Meantime, in an immediate display of support for the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, following the recent eruption of the La Soufriere volcano, Sagicor pledged a donation of emergency supplies to assist with relief efforts in that country to help get its citizens back on their feet. The first share of these supplies was presented to the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO) on the morning of Thursday, April 15, by Stanley Browne, Sagicor’s General Agent and Principal Representative.
The company announced its support of the local government agencies in the early days following the eruption, pledging to provide emergency supplies to those in immediate need, including mattresses, folding cots, blankets, face masks, water tanks and coolers.
Following news of the devastation caused by the recent eruption of the La Soufriere volcano on the neighbouring island of Grenada, Republic Bank announced the establishment of an account to accept cash donations from the general public, to assist their neighbours in their time of need. Donations can be made to account 6103 4372 in the name of “St Vincent Volcano Relief Fund” at any branch of Republic Bank (Grenada).
The United Nations also recently announced the allocation of US$1 million to provide immediate relief to the volcano-stricken country.
At Media InSite we also did our part by making a financial contribution to the Stronger Together Campaign: OECS Emergency Response for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines." This an initiative organized by the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States Commission relative to a coordinated approach to assist with relief efforts on behalf of our Member State, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. Pledges are invited from individuals and corporations across the Caribbean and globally. All funds (100%) raised via this campaign will be directly transferred to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Our company also teamed up together with FeminiTT in sending relief to our neighbours at SVG. A tweet from Ashlee Burnett, Founder of the NGO thanked various local companies who contributed to the relief efforts.
However, the battle with Mother Nature is not the only thing on the hands of the SVG government as the economy, which thrives mainly on agriculture and tourism was already being hammered by the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people were already jobless after COVID-19 but that has now escalated to them being displaced by La Soufriere. Evacuation to neighbouring islands was done only for evacuees who were vaccinated leaving thousands back in shelters and hotels. While the true economic toll of La Soufriere has not been calculated, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves estimates the volcano damages to infrastructure to be $150M and another $150M in agriculture and housing. It will also take many more millions to clean up the islands and bring it back to its feet.