SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - La Soufriere volcano in St. Vincent has erupted and displaced thousands of people, which Member of Parliament for the United People's (UP) Party Omar Ottley says, "it’s a sad turn of events for the entire Caribbean."
In a Press Release issued Friday Morning, the MP also said the volcanic eruption and displacement of St. Vincent and the Grenadines people should be "a wakeup call for those who are responsible for making the decision that impacts St. Maarten’s ability to recover."
"As people of the Caribbean, whenever one of our neighbours suffer, we feel their pain because we are all connected by blood and water," said Ottley. He issued a plea to the people of St. Maarten to "keep St. Vincent and the Grenadines in your prayers."
Ottley is also calling on the Nature Foundation on St. Maarten to "pay keen attention to oceanic developments that may result from the volcanic eruption." Studies show that after a volcanic eruption, evaporation decreases over the ocean. This change in sea condition can lead to sea creatures migrating to other areas for haven.
"We will need to count on the expertise of the Nature Foundation and others to advise the government on what effects can be expected here in St. Maarten due to volcanic eruption and how best we can prepare," said MP Ottley.
Ottley said that at this critical time, organizations like the World Bank that manages the Sint Maarten Recovery, Reconstruction and Resilience Trust Fund, which is financed by The Netherlands, should be paying attention to what the new era of natural disasters are like.
According to MP Ottley, the World Bank, St. Maarten has been waiting since Hurricane Irma's aftermath in 2017 to see tangible signs of recovery.
"World Bank must be mindful of the supernatural acts such as hurricanes and volcanos that are no longer occurring at regular rates or with normal force." I urge you to see this latest development as yet another sign and make it your priority to rebuild and prepare St. Maarten as we enter a hurricane season that has already been predicted will be above average in the coming months.
St. Vincent's National Emergency Management Organization, NEMO, announced early on Friday that "La Soufriere experienced an explosive eruption." It released over five (5) miles of ash plum, which could see for miles while they were rushing to waiting ferries to take them off the island.
"Our lives will forever change, and for us here in St. Maarten, we know only too well what the impact of natural disasters can do to displace people and change lives."
According to MP Ottley, generations to come will be reminded of the tragic experience for the people of St. Vincent. "We in the Caribbean are just beginning to experience the real effect of the Corona Virus COVID-19 that has devastated global economies. I cannot imagine what life would be for the people of St. Vincent now that they have the added burden of this volcanic eruption," said Ottley.