WHILE the North Leeward orange zone residents have begun moving back into their houses, the battle with the volcanic ash will stretch on.
The main road to the area is much clearer that what it was last month, and vehicles could pass each other without raising great clouds of dust that need to settle before either could move. Ash is still on the ground, while the trees and vegetation are green once more.
However, some driveways and areas off the beaten path in Troumaca still have a thick layer of the formidable substance.
Nonetheless, given the green light by the authorities, residents are starting to return to the area, and clean up.
In the yard of her home, hanging up washing as the ash lies around her, 36-yearold Michelle Wyllie, explained “…for the entire day Saturday I cleaned the interior. What happens is that on a daily basis you have to be mopping, because if you notice we’re living in a very dusty area, apart from the ashes, it’s usually very dusty, especially in dry season.”
Despite the daily wiping and constant cleaning, “…I came back because I wanted to be at home, I wanted to be in the comfort of my own home. It’s never easy to leave your home and go somewhere else.”
“…We’ve been away for a month and I think a month has been enough for me. I just wanted the all clear to come back home, and once the volcano is not in any -like dangerous period -then I don’t see any reason why I should not be able to come back home,” Wyllie said.
“..It’s not easy because I have all of this to deal with, you have to be bathing a lot, you have to be wiping a lot and so forth, it’s a sacrifice but then I prefer to be in the comfort of my house,” Wyllie disclosed.
She has cleaned the ash off the roof, but just needs someone to help her with her yard.
In terms of food, water, internet, electricity, there are no problems with any of these.
Therefore, in thinking about the future “…our main concern would be for the farmers, livestock, getting food for the livestock, and that form of food in terms of agricultural products, that would be our main concern in this area.”
It’s only a matter of time in dealing with the ash.
Young Romique Hooper, who was on the evacuation team as a sports coach, notes that he doesn’t think they will be able to do sports in North Leeward for some time until everything settles down.
Hooper has been returning continuously, but the other persons in his family returned for the first time on Wednesday, May 12. Their order of business, as everyone else’s, is to clean up and shovels, and wiping cloths are some of the tools of choice.
In the porch where he is standing, he has washed it out several times because of the ash.
When asked how long he thinks the cleaning will take, the coach gave an audible sigh. “…Days, or even months, becah even though I clean here, because the road is so dusty,” it keeps blowing up with every passing vehicle or wind.
“I alone can’t come and clean, everybody have to come back in the neighbourhood to start doing their cleaning,” he said, adding, “everything will be, hopefully, back in order soon.” Other residents may be hesitant to return because of the ash, he agreed, “..You find most times these days a lot of people are suffering from asthma and all sort of ting so, yeah… so some people might have the fear of the ash, hoping that you could get cleaned up.”
Dennie Sylforde has been a resident of Troumaca for 47 years, but had to move out when the plume began approaching their side after the eruption. They are not returning permanently just yet, only to clean up, as some of his children have problems with the dust.
From his house he has a perfect view of La Soufrière, as he explained, “… it’s liveable but it’s gonna be challenging, it’s gonna be challenging, especially with where it’s windy now.”
It will also be challenging when it rains, he said.
When he first returned some weeks ago, it was to tackle the roof, he noted, which was done in one day with the help of two others. A lot of other residents have also cleaned their roofs to prevent any chance of them falling in.
He was a child when the volcano erupted in 1979, but “…I remember the ash, but it’s a big, big difference. And 79’ I think it was like one or two times in the day (the volcano) went off, but this time was…compare this time to that time it’s a lot yeah.”
“I know it’s gonna be only for a time you know, because once you stay like this and the rain keep coming and you dwell in it, it’s gonna evacuate, it’s gonna go to nothing, it’s gonna be back to normal,” he concluded.
The ash is proving a barrier to some other residents in the orange zone returning home, one of these being Petit Bordel resident, Asunda Matthews, who is staying at the Bethel Secondary School.
In terms of her property, “…I went back three times, and it’s in a state, becah it’s like the more you clean, like if you go down this week and ah try clean”, but you return a week later, “…it like it never even touch.” “…Outside is not clean, and if you try and clean inside and outside is not clean it doesn’t make any sense becah everything from the outside blow back inside,” she explained. “..It have some people that clean, clean, clean, but I am not doing that, I am waiting and see how much as possible outside can get cleaned,” she revealed.
The mother noted that she’s also worried about her kids.
She said she’s also a bit scared to return because she’s not a scientist, and there are elements to cause uncertainty, and she doesn’t know whether it will happen again.