Elderly man relives events of La Soufrière eruption
A 70-year-old Georgetown resident whose sight is partially failing him has told his story of living through Saturday, April 10 in the red zone, when La Soufrière was erupting explosively.
Safe and content enough with his radio beside him, set on the NBC radio, Arden Sampson recalled that it has been over a month since he’s been living in the capital, at the St Joseph’s Convent Kingstown shelter.
With glaucoma, he warned that his eyes aren’t “bright enough”.
“I stay up there the very eruption, the morning. Yeah I wanna prove ting for meself,” he said with chuckle, “…so most like deliberately done it.”
“The rest of my people dem they call me to go but I just tell them I ain ready yet…” Sampson remembered.
On the morning of April 9, “…Well the truth is, the explode raise up, I sit down in front my house door looking on the hill, I see the ting raise up and ah way up and then I see people just start to pulling they bag, running, walk going you know,” he said as he settled into his story.
This didn’t prompt the gentleman to move out, because he had the intention to experience it himself as he hadn’t experienced the eruption in 1979.
He was fine at home for the whole of that Friday, but “…about nine o’clock the night, I look at the time before I go to bed, soon as I lie down I hear some clip, clip, clip on the galvanise on the roof.”
“…I say wait, ah now you ah come? Becah that some hours.”
The ‘clips’ increased until they sounded like a heavy shower of rain. “…And then some good size one between dup, dup, dup, until eventually, you get no sound from the galvanise more than the broom, broom, broom,” he explained.
“..Like some big one you hear they dropping bop, bop, bop,” he added, saying that it was heavy, but it had already killed the sound of the galvanise.
He managed to catch some sleep briefly, but when he awoke it was still ongoing.
When he got up, “…I open a window when I look, I see outside white, so I take some water in a cup and I throw it out,” he said, “…I hear ‘vrr’ so me say wait, me nah get no plastic out there, how this water sound like this. I throw some again, I say no, that going be ashes.”
He said he made up his mind then that he had had enough, “…I ain want no more.”
Sampson packed a bag, and was hearing on the radio that transportation was working, and that they may stop anyone to take them to a shelter.
However, people passed and told him they were coming back, others beeped their horn at him, and no one was stopping. The connection to reach his family by phone was poor.
“…the thing about it, is the first time in my life, 70 years I am, I ever see a whole day dark,” he commented.
“…the streetlight them was on, but the whole outside dark, the sun about 12 o’clock time…” tried to come out like a dull flashlight, but it went away again.
Eventually, his people advised him to go stand, and stop anything that passed.
“…I say to myself ‘he could say that, he inside’, becah every time I come out I got to go back in, the ash is falling, falling, the wind blowing…,” the elderly man commented.
He finally managed to see a car passing, and stopped it by hailing “Taxi”.
“…. I ask them I say ‘how far the ashes reach’? They say ‘how far the ashes reach’? The ashes cover the whole island.’ But when I came out on the pitch, I take me finger and I do so until I touch the pitch, and that’s about five inches,” he recalled.
He reached safely in the green zone at some minutes to seven in the night.