Lands being identified for victims of Soufriere
As rebuilding efforts get underway in St Vincent and the Grenadines, the government has begun to identify lands for persons who may have lost their homes in the red zone due to volcanic hazards.
In the wake of La Soufriere’s volcanic eruptions, which have destroyed many buildings and homes in red zone communities, scientists have advised against allowing people to rebuild homes in the valleys under the mountain.
This is due to destruction that may be caused by volcanic hazards such as lahars (mud flows), long after the volcano has gone to sleep.
There have been discussions for the consideration of reinforced building codes being implemented in areas above the dry river, and suggestions have also been floated that communities in North Windward be used only for agricultural purposes.
But Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said this week that his government will “be looking for lands inside of North Windward itself and lands outside of North Windward because let’s understand this, there are lands in North Windward which are safe…”
“I’m not of the school- the government is not of the school, and I don’t think the country and the people themselves in North Windward, above the dry river…all we must have up here is just the agriculture and animal husbandry and fishing and people just go in there and come out and people don’t live up there,” he said while speaking on NBC radio on Monday morning via telephone from Cuba.
Gonsalves said there are lands in North Windward, including in communities like Sandy Bay and Orange Hill which could be available for rebuilding away from valleys where lahars from the volcano may traverse.
An inventory of these lands is in the process of being compiled.
The Prime Minister said the government has to make sure that rebuilding takes place with matters of safety being at the forefront of the process.
He also pointed out that assessments regarding housing are in the early stages, and assessors are in the field to assess damage to houses in severely affected communities.
Gonsalves said conversation is ongoing with Montgomery Daniel, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister with responsibility for lands and physical planning; and Dr Orande Brewster, the Minister with responsibility for housing, on the matter.