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Preparation of shelters not a sign of increased volcanic activity – Forbes

Preparation of  shelters not a sign of increased volcanic activity – Forbes
Michelle Forbes

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Shelters throughout the island are being prepared in the event that the eruptions at La Soufriere move to the explosive stage.

The fact that this is being done does not mean there is increased activity at the volcano that started erupting effusively in December 2020.

Director of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) Michelle Forbes told SEARCHLIGHT on Thursday that the increased activity at the emergency shelters from North Union to Barrouallie is making persons uneasy but they should remain calm.

She said NEMO gave instructions to the Ministry of Education to have the shelters, that are schools, prepared since December 2020, and work is ongoing and is not being done because something new is happening at La Soufriere.

Work at the shelters include securing valuables and important documents and preparing rooms that can be holding areas for persons with flu-like symptoms, acknowledging that COVID-19 protocols for the shelters must be in place.

Apart from the usual shelters, schools that are not usually on the list have been added. This was done because of the large number of persons that will have to be moved if the volcano explodes. Private schools have also offered their services.

Some of the schools added to the list include the Girls’ High School (GHS), the St Vincent Grammar School (SVGS), the Thomas Saunders Secondary School (TSSS), the St Mary’s Roman Catholic School (SMRC), the St Joseph’s Convent Marriaqua (SJCM) and the St Martins Secondary School (SMSS).

Forbes said we are currently in a multi-hazard environment and as a result, things are being done somewhat differently. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is available for shelter managers as well as thermometers.

The NEMO director said also that they have been engaging hotels and guest houses to act as shelters and prices for housing persons have been quoted by establishments, with dialogue continuing.

Training of persons, including teachers, is taking place for persons who will work at the various shelters. One management team consists of five persons. Forbes said there should be more than one group of five because if the shelters are activated there is no telling how long they will have to remain open.

Forbes is also asking persons who have made plans to stay with friends or family members if an evacuation notice is given to inform NEMO or other persons or organizations that are working with NEMO.