Vineyard seeks to support sister island following volcanic eruption

The Sister Island committee, seen here in 2015, is working to provide relief to St. Vincent following a devastating volcanic eruption.

A gofundme relief effort to support Martha’s Vineyard’s sister Island, St. Vincent, following a devastating volcanic eruption on April 9 seeks to send much-needed supplies to the hard-hit community.

Half of the funds from the initiative will also go toward providing financial support to the National Emergency Management Organization of St. Vincent and the Grenadines in its relief and rebuilding effort.

The La Soufrière volcano on St. Vincent, located in the Caribbean Sea between Saint Lucia and Grenada, erupted on April 9, causing widespread destruction and forcing thousands of people to evacuate the northern part of the island.

According to a press release, in 2014 Dukes County entered into an Island to Island Partnership with St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Out of this partnership, a Sister Island Relief Committee of Martha’s Vineyard was formed. This committee and the St. Vincent & the Grenadines Association of Massachusetts have joined together to raise funds to aid in the recovery from the eruption.

So far, almost $8,000 of the $10,000 goal has been raised through the gofundme.

Any donations to the cause will be managed jointly by the diaspora group of Massachusetts and the Sister Island Relief Committee. The first shipment of supplies and goods will be leaving Massachusetts on April 24. 

Glenn DeBlase, a planner in the relief effort and member of the relief committee, told The Times that the eruptions are ongoing, and many homes are being crushed by the immense weight of the ash.

“Roofs are just caving in. A lot of houses in the northern end of St. Vincent are being just completely demolished,” he said. 

He added that the dust and ash from the eruption has “infiltrated everything,” including the cisterns that collect rainwater and serve as the water source for individual homes.

“They have no access to drinking water whatsoever,” he said. “They have had to take out all the gutter pipes and block all the holes so their water source does not get contaminated with dust.” 

Currently, DeBlase said, upwards of 30,000 people have been displaced from their homes and are living in shelters — and the ash keeps falling. “There’s no end to the volcanic action in sight,” he said.

Eventually, the relief committee intends to put on some sort of public fundraising event on-Island, although DeBlase said he isn’t sure when that will happen.