Montserrat Today

For Friday December 05, 1997
Presented by the Information and Education Unit
of Montserrat's Emergency Department


THE VOLCANIC EXPLANATION:

The seismicity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano was at a relatively low level for the last 24 hours. There were some hybrid and long period earthquakes and over 100 rockfall signals.

For the first time in several weeks the dome was clearly visible yesterday and it was observed that the October 22nd dome appeared not to have changed much since it was last seen. However, the area around Galways has changed significantly with the rockfalls and flows of the previous weeks having built up and extended the talus slope southwards and westwards.

The southern lobe is now wider and taller than the northern lobe and is begining to encroach on Chances Peak. The main area of activity is still the southern side of the volcano and there is evidence of dome growth.

The dust levels measured yesterday show that the levels are still very low. However there was an ash plume early this morning drifting westwards from the souther side of the dome.

ST CROIX BASED MONTSERRATIANS ASSIST HOMELAND:

Two St Croix based Montserrat groupings have donated funds to the Montserrat Branch of the British Red Cross for various projects.

The Emerald Association of St Croix donated US$3000 to provide persons who are relocating overseas with some pocket money to assist them to make their journey a little easier.

The Montserrat Association of St Croix donated some funds to assist school children remaining on Montserrat for school uniforms, shoes, textbooks and other school items.

Both of these programmes have been administered by the Red Cross and have proved very popular.

MSS PRINCIPAL TO RETIRE:

Mrs Camilla Watts the principal of the Montserrat Secondary School (MSS) is to retire shortly. Mrs Watts who has had over two decades in education circles will be honoured by staff and students at a special ceremony on Sunday evening at the Brades Pentechostal Church.

MEETING TODAY TO EXAMINE USE OF LOOK OUT SCHOOL:

There will be a meeting today to examine the use of the Look Out School compound currently being used as a shelter for over 60 residents.

There is a demand for space at the Montserrat Secondary School part of which (Forms 1 & 2) is currently housed at Look Out. The rest of the school is housed at the Brades Pentecostal Church who are anxious to get their church back by Christmas.

The school's labs and workshops are at the Salem campus which is also being used as a shelter.

Ministry of Education officials would like to house the entire school at Look Out and to get it ready for the new term would they would need to make modifications over the school holidays.

Currently finishing touches are being put to dorm type family housing units at Davey Hill and Manjack which will be made available to the current residents at Look Out.

HOUSING MATERIALS GRANT PROGRAMME REVISED:

The housing materials grant programme is being revised. A committee met recently to review the programme and recommended that applicants receive assistance to cover the cost of construction.

Under the new arrangement, the materials grant will be based on 75% of the estimated cost of constructing a one, two or three bedroom house.

In addition to this there is a grant available of up to EC$10,000 to help persons finish their home.

The funding for the projects comes from D.F.I.D. and is valued at 1.8 million.

UWI 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS:

There are plans underway to locally observe the 50th anniversary of the University of the West Indies (UWI). The 1998 celebrations will be under the theme "Celebrating the past, Charting the future".

A local committee has been set up to to draft a programme for the celebrations. One of their suggestions is to publish a commemorative set of short papers and creative pieces by Montserratian UWI graduates.

TWO ENVIROMENTALISTS TO VISIT:

Two environmental engineers from EPAS will be in Montserrat next week to look at the new refuse disposal site at New Windward. They will make recommendations on how best to manage the site.

Once the new site is up and running, the existing site at Little Bay will be closed and all material cleared and transferred to the new site.

THE MONTSERRAT REPORT:

(continued from yesterday)

(13) It is clear 'prima facie' from the above account that there has been too many parties involved in the delivery of aid without discrete and clear area of responsibility. The confusion and frustration in aid provision was a constant theme amongst those we met in Montserrat and Antigua and from our witnwesses in London. Mrs Short regretfully commented "we had to work within the existing machinery. You cannot change the machinery of government or its budget in the middle of an emergency". She later added, "there are so many players in this thing that it is very difficult to have authority over people who make the decisions or know the answers". Mr Brandt complained of the bureaucracy and number of layers involved in the decision making process, as did Mr Savage and Prof Sparks. Baroness Symons at the end of our inquiry admitted "this is a piece of machinery that we have inherited which I think is not working in the way that a reasonable person would expect it to work". Their lack of co-ordination was one thing on which all our witnesses agreed.

(14) The decision of the Government of Montserrat in August 1996 not to apply for aid to construct housing is a significant cause of the delay in the provision of adequate accommodation.

(To be continued next week)

More information on Monday...................................

Presented by the Information & Education Unit, Emergency Dept
St Johns Village, Montserrat, Leeward Islands, West Indies.
Tel 664 491 7166, Fax 664 491 2474, E Mail: monmedia@candw.ag
Richard Aspin, Unit Co-ordinator.