The La Soufriere Volcano appears to have poured out its fullest wrath on villages in the North Windward sections of St Vincent and the Grenadines.
Scenes from Georgetown, Orange Hill, and Sandy Bay told stories of fire and brimstone in areas that could well be associated with scenes from an apocalyptic movie.
Barbados TODAY received special permission to tour the hardest hit areas with Vincentian Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves, revealing the devastation left behind by the hot ash and stones which rained down on the villages.
Churches, bars and nightclubs appeared to be particularly hard hit with roofs caving in under the weight of the volcanic materials.
“This is desolation in this part of the country and this part of the country is the emotional heartbeat of us… This is devastation,” Dr. Gonsalves said of the situation.
Sandy Bay, whose residents are the descendents of the Kalinago people, has been transformed from a festive seaside village into an area reminiscent of a middle eastern war zone.
Ron Lewis, a young Sandy Bay resident told Barbados TODAY that in his eagerness to experience a volcanic eruption, he opted to stay in the village, even after assisting with the evacuation of others.
“On the evening of the eruption, I just went to get some paper, because I smoke a little marijuana, but when I was coming back, I just heard this loud rumbling, like if it was within the earth like a fire and then when I looked up I had to open my mouth in shock. I could see the cylindrical shape going straight up into the sky and in less than a minute it just spread out like a mushroom,” Lewis recalled.
“I was shouting out to my neighbours ‘get the [expletive] out of the house man, the volcano is blowing’, and within five minutes, we started feeling the stones dropping.
“We went to the police station to get the officers who were there and the officers ran out of the station into the truck and somebody had to jump out to go and lock up the police station for them. I am telling you it was a frightening experience,” he added.
In fact, Lewis believes if elderly people were not moved out of the village prior to
the catastrophe, there would have been fatalities.
Vanessa Bracken told this newspaper that she preferred to stay in the village throughout the ordeal and watched in disbelief as her niece’s house was turned into a pile of rubble.
“Saturday morning was like the night. It was dark dark dark, we couldn’t see nothing, I remember the streets lights them was on, and it was real ashes, real ashes you cannot come out the house,” Bracken recalled.
“The sand dropped on the roof but I ain’t had no chance to clean it off, so it broke down because it is nuff sand,” she added.
Bracken, a middle-aged woman revealed that unlike her close relatives, she refused to go into a shelter and is instead assisting with the mammoth cleanup effort.
“Sometimes you feel lonely because you are not seeing everybody. You are just seeing a couple people and they just say hello good morning and then they are on their way,” she added.
Desran Nanton, another young man assisting with the cleanup, revealed that he had rushed his mother and sister out of Sandy Bay just minutes before the major eruptions started. He was shocked at what he saw on returning a few days ago. He noted that it appeared the ash had created even more beach as it had pushed back the high-water mark.
“There were people in the village keeping us updated, but what I’m seeing is not pretty at all and I don’t want to be here until about six months have passed, but me and my brothers and friends decided that we are going to come back up here to help people. It’s not pretty up here and I am encouraging my Sandy Bay people not to come back home. We need at least a year to wait and allow the government to do what they are supposed to do,” he told Barbados TODAY.