South Florida

Local Church Collects Supplies for Evacuees of St. Vincent Volcano

Over 20,000 people have been evacuated from the "red zone", the area closest to the volcano, and have been living in shelters since mid-April

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Volcanic eruptions have upended thousands of lives in the country of St. Vincent for weeks. Parts of the small island in the Caribbean are covered with ash, causing the destruction of homes and making it hard to breathe.

"The volcanic ash is so fine, it comes through every crevice. It’s difficult to breathe, we suffer with ash everywhere," said Pastor Walford Thompson, who lives on the island.

Over 20,000 people have been evacuated from the red zone - the area closest to the volcano - and have been living in shelters since mid-April.

"Many of them cannot get back to their homes. They don’t know what’s happened, they can’t evaluate the damage to their farms, animals and homes," Thompson said.

Thompson is among those from St. Vincent who has ties to South Florida, after raising his children in the area while his son-in-law, Mike Campbell, is the senior pastor of the Old Cutler Presbyterian Church.

"They’re desperate for rice, beans, so people in shelters can have food," said Campbell, who helped the congregation collect a truck full of food, clothing, water and supplies to send. "The rest is to put clothes on their backs and help digging out of the ash they’re under."

The hardship has been made worse in recent days with torrential rain causing mudslides and flooding. Thompson, at 87 years old, is among those feeling the struggles and said the unknown is the worst part.

"It’s difficult to sleep, to rest, and the terrible uncertainty. Not being able to take care of yourself, not knowing when you’ll eat," he said. “Many in South Florida have risen to the occasion to help St. Vincent and we are grateful and thankful for you.”

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