Photos: Jevorne Fredrick\UWI Seismic Research Unit
Award-winning journalist Felicia J. Persaud says, “A modern-day Pompeii is occurring right now” in St. Vincent and The Grenadines, where volcanic eruptions has led to evacuations and devastation.
As the La Soufriere volcano blows its top and spews ash and lava across St. Vincent and the Grenadines (with ash traveling as a far as Barbados and St. Lucia and beyond), close to 20,000 people have been displaced from their homes–some leaving with nothing but a backpack–and a total of over 12,700 evacuees struggling to get water and basic necessities amid the ongoing volcanic eruptions and earthquakes.
Felicia J. Persaud, the CEO of Invest Caribbean, in Miami, and Danielle Corbin from The Ritzury Group in Barbados, already partners from a new cannabis venture in the area, saw what was happening to their friends and associates and, distraught over the explosive volcanic eruption of the La Soufrière volcano, immediately got to work, launching a global fundraising and donations campaign to deliver aid and support to the most vulnerable on the island.
Although neither had ever been involved in a humanitarian mission before, these two jumped in, dropped their day jobs, built out a Go Fund ME Page, (Saint Vincent Volcano Disaster Relief on GoFundMe ) which has so far raised almost $50,000 (hoping to get to $100,000) and are focusing their attention full-time on organizing a freighter to sail with essentials from Miami to Barbados to St. Vincent in the next few days to bring some of the essential and needed supplies to SVG residents.
The residents need: all essential supplies including but not limited to: water, food, non-perishables, toiletries, blankets, masks, mosquito repellent, first-aid kits, antibiotics and more. They are also out to American corporate partners and the West Indies Disapora for help. They have already purchased paper products PPE, flashlights, disposables and other supplies.
“A modern-day Pompeii is occurring right now in the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, award-winning journalist and Invest Caribbean CEO, Felicia J. Persaud, said. “My business’ lifeblood is on bringing important economic opportunity to this region, so it was a no brainer to jump in to help,” she continued. “If 2020 has taught me anything is that life is short, so if we can help others we should. My continuing the partnership with Danielle to help our friends needed to happen.”
The eruptions are leaving the entire northern third of the island completely desolate, decimating houses, agriculture and livestock, and fouling the water.
“The eruption of La Soufrière in St. Vincent and The Grenadines sent a shock wave throughout the Caribbean. We are bringing all hands-on deck to assist as much as possible,” said Ritzury Group Executive Chairman, Danielle Corbin, who is leading the on-the-ground donation effort from nearby Barbados. “What we’re helping prevent is the collapse of an economy, as this disaster plus the current COVID pandemic could set this nation’s progress back 40 years. Our main priority is alleviating the pressure by involving the international community as much as possible in order to create ways in which we can bring immediate relief in the short term and rebuild the economy in the long term.”
Both Ritzury Group and ICN are Black, women-led enterprises. ICN’s main focus is matching developers, businesses and governments with the best possible funding options available globally, in the form of debt or equity. Luxury professional services entity Ritzury Group is dedicated to helping regional, local and International companies from many industries make the Caribbean their international business hub.
After decades of inactivity and rumblings beginning in December 2020, La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines erupted explosively on April 9th. The most recent NEMO bulletin states: “The volcano continues to erupt. Its pattern of seismic activity over the last few days is typical of the growth and destruction of lava domes. Explosions with accompanying ashfall, of similar or larger magnitude, can occur with little or no warning.”
The government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines also laboring under the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and a recent outbreak of dengue fever. The UN has launched a $29 million fundraising campaign to help the government cope as ICN and Ritzury focus on meeting the direct needs of the people displaced and devastated.