Volcano building up steam for major blowout

CNW- Director of the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), Michelle Forbes is again urging St Vincent residents to prepare for the possibility of an explosive eruption of La Soufriere.

The volcano has been erupting effusively since December and returned to its “normal” dome-building activity last Friday, after three days of elevated seismic activity.

Forbes said on VC3’s Round Table Talk on Wednesday that the cessation of the elevated seismic activity is no reason to become complacent.

“….We cannot sit and think it is all over because we know we are in it for the long haul,” she said.

“As I keep saying, I believe we are on borrowed time. The volcano has given us enough time to get things in order and we continue to basically prepare, think about the worst-case scenarios, think about the different scenarios, whether it can happen in the night, during the day, and the different types of resources we will need for each event.”

The NEMO director said that her agency continues with preparation activities, including a pre-planned tabletop simulation exercise during the heightened activity last week.

“This is not the time for us to become complacent because we hear that things have quieted down last week, because we can expect to have similar events,” she said.

“This can go on for quite a while and it can go in any direction from this point on because we have already seen the signs that it can go either way. So, we cannot rest on our laurels, if you want to put it that way, but we continue to prepare, we continue to engage the communities.”

Forbes said that over the last week, in particular, NEMO has “really worked on finalizing any kinks in our transportation and evacuation planning, how we are going to move people, the resources that we need to move people; we need to have that well-oiled down in the event that we actually go into an explosive eruption”.

Meanwhile, speaking on the same program, geologist Professor Richard Robertson said that the cessation of the heightened seismic activity puts the nation “back into that sort of uncertain period” where it is not clear what the volcano will do next.

“We know it can change rapidly and it could possibly still go explosive or to could speed up in growth or it could stop,” he said.

CMC