The CDEMA Coordinating Unit has received funding from the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (UK FCDO) in the amount of £51,000 through the Memorandum of Understanding on the ‘UK Support for the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) Response Teams programme’. The funds will cover the cost of a rotary helicopter aircraft, which will be used to support access to sampling of the extrusive materials, air lifting equipment to the flanks of the volcano, surveillance/reconnaissance to analyse changes in the volcano and other relevant support to the monitoring of the volcanic activity.
The request for a rotary aircraft was made by Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves to CDEMA through the National Emergency Management Office (NEMO), St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The aircraft will support the ongoing monitoring by the University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre’s (SRC) scientists on the ground.
“The Government and people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are grateful to CDEMA and the UK Government (Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office) for their kind assistance in organising and financing the rotary helicopter service, which is necessary to facilitate the SRC and NEMO in conducting vital work in respect of the effusive volcanic eruption at La Soufriere in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Thanks to CDEMA’s Executive Director (ag), Liz Riley and the Coordinating Unit team, who have been magnificent in coordinating the efforts”, expressed Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
The United Kingdom’s Resident High Commissioner in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, His Excellency Steve Moore, said he is delighted that the UK FCDO is able to facilitate this request at short notice.
“The CDEMA Coordinating Unit is pleased to facilitate a timely response to this request from the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We wish to thank the United Kingdom Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (UK FCDO) for its prompt financial support at a critical juncture in this volcanic event”, said CDEMA’s Executive Director (ag), Elizabeth Riley.
“The CDEMA CU team stands in solidarity with the Government and People of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and remains committed to providing additional support as this event unfolds”, added Riley.
Professor Richard Robertson of the UWI-SRC has indicated that the initial aircraft is required for a minimum of seven (7) days, and subsequently on an as needed basis by the scientists. This support is extremely urgent to allow the scientists to analyze the data and present to the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines an informed interpretation of the current volcanic events.
The CDEMA Coordinating Unit is liaising with CalvinAir, a private helicopter company, based in Antigua and Barbuda, with significant relevant operational expertise, to provide these services. The company has previously provided services to the University of the West Indies (UWI) Seismic Research Centre (SRC) and to the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO). The CDEMA CU urges all Participating States and members of the Regional Response Mechanism to continue to monitor the progress of this volcanic event. The public should continue to monitor the releases from their local national disaster management office for updates on the situation as it develops.