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Montrealers collect essentials for St. Vincent evacuees after volcano erupts

·3 min read
Alfred Dear, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Association of Montreal, says he's proud to see people help leading up to the fundraiser.  (Matt D'Amours/CBC Montreal - image credit)
Alfred Dear, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Association of Montreal, says he's proud to see people help leading up to the fundraiser. (Matt D'Amours/CBC Montreal - image credit)

The St. Vincent and The Grenadines Association of Montreal is accepting donations to support thousands of evacuees after a volcano in the northern region of St. Vincent erupted last week, causing a humanitarian emergency.

The Caribbean island has been covered in ash and molten rock since La Soufrière volcano began to erupt periodically on April 9.

Thousands of residents have been left with intermittent access to drinking water.

According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,16,000 to 20,000 people are affected.

More than 4,000 residents have been displaced to 89 shelters and neighbouring islands. Families have also welcomed a little more than 2,000 evacuees into their private homes.

"I feel proud that people are answering the call, but I feel bad for the people in St. Vincent and what they're going through," Alfred Dear, president of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Association of Montreal, said.

"Pity I'm not there to help, but I'm trying to do all I can from here."

Dear says donations may take up to two weeks to reach the island.

'Every little thing counts'

Montrealer Melissa Robertson, who has family on the island, says her relatives have been without running water since Saturday.

"I'm seeing all this online and my blood starts running cold," she said. "I'm finding ways to call my family and get everything organized to be sent to my aunt. My son helped me carry boxes [of supplies] this morning."

Montrealer Melissa Robertson says her family in St. Vincent hasn't had running water for nearly a week because of the volcano eruption.
Montrealer Melissa Robertson says her family in St. Vincent hasn't had running water for nearly a week because of the volcano eruption.(Submitted by Melissa Robertson)

Montrealer Jasmine Quammie, who spent most of her childhood in St. Vincent, has already prepared 50 hygiene kits, including sanitary pads, toothbrushes and soap bars to donate.

"[St. Vincent] is not as rich and able to do for themselves like some of the other islands that thrive on tourism like Barbados or Jamaica or the Bahamas," she said.

After dropping off the first set of kits, Quammie says she'll keep gathering supplies to send.

"It's to get them through the day and make them feel okay. We've got to give them some semblance of normalcy in this time of chaos," she said.

Aija Fraiser, a family friend of Quammie's, lives in St. Vincent's Kingstown. After starting a Facebook group of volunteers to deliver donations to evacuees, she says she's thankful for the outpouring of support.

"It's good to know that we're not forgotten," she said. "Every little thing counts, everything. Don't even question if we would need it. If it's a basic necessity, even if it's just a little item, everything will be put to use because we need it."

Water, hygiene products, non-perishable goods, clothing, and masks can be dropped off tomorrow between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at St. Paul's Anglican Church. Monetary donations can be made directly to the association.