Thursday, 13 August 2015

Island Life :: That Time We Were on Volcanic Eruption Alert

When you live on an island in the Caribbean there are all sorts of unique experiences that come your way like exploring neighbouring deserted islands or traditional slave pens. Oh and maybe the threat that the underwater volcano that is just four miles off the coast of your nation will explode suddenly and cause a tsunami that will wipe out your entire island home and everything you know. We don't put that part on the Boucher though.

Ok, all joke aside because I know I run the risk of having some people read that and take it too seriously, every thing is as safe as can be, don't worry  this was just a random scare. We always take care of our visitors, even more so than ourselves actually haha You don't believe me? You should look up how many beautiful countries are living with dormant or active volcanoes as maintains at this very moment. Not to mention all those other types of disasters looming...

Were I live we have quite a number of volcanic craters, some active some not as much. The main one, active and continually monitored is 'Kick em Jenny!' She resides underwater just four miles of the coast as mentioned above. On Thursday July 23rd Kick Em Jenny Kicked up a small storm of sorts.

I woke up to no internet that day and no cell service on my main cellphone provider. I wasn't too bothered, my body was wrecked by a cold so that was the least of my worries. That is, till I got a call from a friend that went something like 'I hear they say we on tsunami watch?!' Oh 'they' always the bringer of bad news.

Now being in school has taught me the incredible importance of research, I hate it when someone just throws some random scary fact at me without any viable source. I acquaint it to someone throwing a wild animal at my face and saying 'here hold this!' then running away. So I responded with little panic and then 'Okay, well, I have no internet right now and the radio has been on all day and said nothing about that so when you verify it let me know.'

I went back to sleep. After all, if my island is about to be blown sky high girl gonna need her energy right? Or not...either way yay sleep.

About an hour later I heard the radio announcer quarrelling that our national disaster agency was in an emergency meeting and that they need to update the nation. I remembered then that my mother and grandmother had left for that beach I posted about a while ago and had been gone three hours. When I called they were walking into the front yard though so it was all good.

I had to call up my other friend when I realised things were getting more and more panicked, she does love a good conspiracy and what are good friends for after all?  We talked a lot as people tend to in those moments, all the what would happen ifs and the many people we knew that had recently had dreams about a tsunami and a fearful mixture of fact and fiction.

Well, armed with my trusty radio announcer I became privy to the voices of people in the north of the island who alerted us that they were experiencing multiple earthquakes as we speak. A lady from the north of the island called then and said things are pretty bad, so many heavy earthquakes, seconds apart, plus the ocean is turning white she said.

There was finally a brief national update that said everything was fine, just some palatal shift, no tsunami watch anywhere in the Caribbean. More updates after the emergency meeting.

My other friend called back and said the tsunami watch is definitely true.

I updated her.

There was a press conference later explaining that the volcano has been under monitor for some time now and was having tiny eruptions as volcanoes tend to do and in fact as ours often does every year, which caused a few earthquakes in the part of the island closest to it. Some time later someone else released video of the ocean and lo and behold it was apparently not in fact white.

What really annoyed me was the misinformation that ran rampant that day. I was getting messages on my phone when the internet came back of a pictured volcano attached to a message about how dyer things are and how we are one category away from eruption evacuation. The pictured depicted quite a scary notion and people in the group I was in again talked of the fact that we are on tsunami watch not just for us but the entire Caribbean another friend said

Nobody was citing anything though.

There was no system in place to be prepared. We did not know where we would need to go if or what we would need to take with us and that became painfully obvious. Most people I know turned to speculation and their speculations were shared far and wide.

Most felt helpless, there was no internet to validate or sway our fears and little means to reach others via phone for most of the day. I was calm, I had no energy anyway but it taught me how reliant we had become on technology. How before we may have all known better what we needed or where to go from reading it in a book. Now we take for granted that we will always be able to google our troubles away...

A friend of mine said this the day after when everyone had calmed down and all but forgotten how scared they were the day before now that their internet returned and their cellphones worked.

We often joke saying that it always takes a disaster to get us ready for a disaster and as you can tell the volcano didn't erupt, it wasn't much of an alarm, the orange alert just wanted to alert the marine workers to keep the necessary radius as the eruption could cause a change in water density causing boats to sink.

Still, what a reminder that natural disasters don't care about your internet speed or your wifi availability.

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