Since the initial eruption of the La Soufrière Volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday, April 9, a number of Caribbean descent organizations, businesses, and individuals have mobilized to build a network of support to provide relief to impact victims on the island.
The continuous eruptions have blanketed large portions of the island and in nearby Barbados with heavy ash and threats of pyrotechnic flows to surrounding communities in northern St. Vincent.
As a result of the volcanic activity, thousands of island residents have been evacuated to local shelters or neighboring islands and are likely to be displaced for a long term.
As previously done in support of the recovery from Hurricane Maria, the US Caribbean Strong network has been activated to support a multitude of relief efforts across the diaspora in securing priority relief supplies, mobilizing volunteers for transporting and packaging supplies, collaborating with local private sector and governmental partners, and fundraising dollars to underwrite efforts.
“We must mobilize in a coordinated and efficient manner to effectively expedite the priority supplies to the neediest and vulnerable on the island. Each person and organization can contribute in their own way with money, volunteer time, supplies from home or shopping, and personal relationships with the capacity to help. Our family and friends in St. Vincent needs us urgently,” Jamaican-American Attorney, Marlon Hill, US Caribbean Strong organizer.
To date, the following relief supplies are the highest priority: bottled water, N95 masks, goggles, toiletries/sanitary/dignity kits, first aid kits, medicine – aspirin, pepto bismol, nebulizer/asthma pumps/etc., sleeping bags, blankets pillows, mats, towels, baby wipes/foods/diapers, batteries/flashlights/solar lanterns, sleeping bags, blankets pillows, and mats. Clothing and basic food items are not the highest priority at this time.
Several relief events are being organized and hosted throughout South Florida to collect supplies.
Volunteers are needed to assist with sorting, packing, pickup and delivery, and more. Anyone interested in volunteering can sign up to do so online. For Volcano Relief Drop Off Locations, take a look at the map below or visit: http://www.sflcaribbeanstrong.org/
“Our message to every Vincy, you are not alone, we the Caribbean are with you now and always, near and far away. You are in our prayers and please know that every Caribbean person in the Caribbean and around the world have come together like never before to assist all who have been affected by the volcano one way or the other. It is a proud moment for the Caribbean diaspora, working together, helping one another and most importantly speaking with one voice! Together, we are Caribbean Strong!” said Consul General Gilbert Boustany, Antigua & Barbuda, in Miami.
U.S. Caribbean Strong has also partnered with the Miami Foundation to create a relief fund, financial contributions can be made securely made at http://give.
Another US Caribbean Strong organizer, Devin ST. Hilaire said that the purpose of the “aggregate and streamline geographically dispersed disaster relief efforts: to get help faster and easier to those who need it most.” among others.