Cultural ambassador for Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, soca artiste Gamal ‘Skinny Fabulous’ Doyle, is concerned about his country’s recovery, as he says the eruption of the La Soufriere volcano has caused complete devastation to the island’s infrastructure and agricultural landscape, threatening its food security.
Speaking to Guardian Media from his home in SVG’s capital—Kingstown, Doyle said the road to recovery will be a long and crucial one.
“Persons who depend on farming and those types of livelihoods, those persons are not going to get back to normal anytime soon.
“Some of their livestock would have died and not escape the amount of ashfall and even if they did, it is impossible to find back all your sheep, all your cattle and all your goats. Things like you don’t think about would have been a problem, would be a problem in the road to recovery,” Doyle explained.
He said the infrastructural damage was great, with some houses completely destroyed, while others will be inhabitable for quite some time.
“The infrastructural damage and roadways and how to get back persons into a home that they can call theirs, that process will not be tomorrow, not next week, not even next month.”
Additionally, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the island is facing what Doyle described as a double-whammy for the authorities.
“The idea of social distancing in an evacuation is almost impossible,” he said.
While the five-time SVG soca monarch winner lives in the Green Zone—the southern part of the island, he said the daily explosions continue to devastate communities in the northern part of the island—the Red Zone, creating rippling effects for the entire population.
“Persons who were living in the Red Zones are now living with people in the Green Zones, so those persons’ lives also now then become affected,” Doyle said.
The songwriter, who has also become a host to evacuees, having opened his doors to family members fleeing the Red Zone, has partnered with other creatives and entertainers on the island to engage in relief efforts to those most affected. At the time of his interview with Guardian Media, Doyle was on his way to deliver food to a community.
“Myself, along with some other artistes and cultural ambassadors from St Vincent, which includes Luta, Rodney Small…a few of us, what we do is pool together our resources to get food supplies and care packages.”
He said being in a position to help at such a time was something he did not take lightly and was happy to bring relief to those who were “falling through the cracks.”
“Relief is coming to St Vincent from all over and we are very grateful that this is happening. The government agencies are doing their very best to get it out. There are just pockets of people here and there that sometimes get slipped through the cracks that really need to be touched with more urgency, and that’s where persons like myself would have been coming in for that purpose and going into the different communities to make sure that they are good,” Doyle explained.