HE WAS UNHAPPY with the extended family situation that forced him and his small family to set up house in the Noel River bed .
On Tuesday morning, September 14, 2021 the young man who returned to the same location from which he was forced to evacuate due to the explosive eruptions of La Soufriere, told SEARCHLIGHT that he and his family are living in fear for their lives.
The young male resident, who requested that neither his name nor his photo be published, resides in an area that has been declared vulnerable.
He lives with his wife and baby in one house, while the two other families who were “in the bush for the day” last Tuesday, occupy houses nearby.
Hours ahead of the start of the explosive eruptions in April, the young farmer was among hundreds of residents from North Windward who fled their homes for evacuation shelters. They along with others from the Red Zone were housed mainly in various schools until the government issued the all clear for evacuees to vacate the shelters and return home by Monday August 23. He and the two other families however decided to return to their homes in the river bed. They had gone back periodically to clean ash from the roofs and within their houses, and there was very little more they had to do to make the houses liveable again.
However the fear of lahars descending the hillsides whenever there are heavy downpours, grips the hearts of those residents who have returned.
“When I first built here the river was just a small stream we would jump into at any time,” the young farmer said. “But we began seeing the river getting wider, and if you look at my house and this one, the river is taking away the foundation.”
Pointing to the riverbed, the father said that he will welcome any offer to get away from the riverbed, but “right now this is all we have. We have always had to look after ourselves and this is something many persons will not understand.”
Currently the Government is constructing homes for families whose houses in the Red Zone are located in ‘no build’ areas.
Twenty seven foundations have been completed at Orange Hill, upon which prefabricated houses will be erected, with an additional eight houses to be built. At Sandy Bay, 35 houses are scheduled for construction on lands currently owned by Minister of Communications and Works Montgomery Daniel but which will be purchased by the government.
An additional 50 houses will also be constructed at Orange Hill, as the Government implements plans to remove all families currently residing in vulnerable areas, including riverbeds north of the Rabacca Dry River.
Families whose homes are located in designated hazard areas remained in shelters temporarily as the government constructs the replacement houses for them. The authorities are also seeking to obtain private rented accommodation to house some of these families so that schools which are still being used as evacuation shelters can be vacated to undergo repairs ahead of the proposed reopening of schools in October.
The provision of houses is a source of comfort to the Noel resident who said : “I do not know who will be moved first so it is up to GOD to keep us safe,” as he continues to keep an eye on the river.