E-Mail Message, David Lea, June 17, 1997
Following is an E-mail message from David Lea, who graciously consented
to have it put on the Web:
On Tue, 17 Jun 1997, David Lea wrote:
> Via MNI-INFO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
> Greetings to the group,
> After reading my Email this morning, I felt I would add a little more
> info to possibly fill in the picture a bit.
> First, the National Geographic article...... This has been in the works
> for a very long time, at least a year or so, and though I haven't seen it
> yet, I can assure you it will be excellent. Ann Williams and Vince Calle
> spent many weeks here on island and did their homework diligently. Ann is
> the writer and Vince is the photographer. We had many wonderful times
> together and they endeared themselves to everyone here on island. Vince
> spent many hours in the air with "Chopper Jim" and I will never forget him
> singing his version of the NPP song......
> "Jim McMahon............. Jim McMahon........................All the other
> pilots.......... are joke, joke, joke, joke........" as we would take off
> for the mountain. He must have taken a thousand shots, so I'm sure the ones
> they use in the article will be fantastic. Ann is an angel with whom we
> still stay in touch, and as she has fallen in love with volcanoland, she is
> a member of this group."HI, ANN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
> Back to the mountain. I had the good fortune to be at the very southern
> end of Upper Friths yesterday, all set up on my tripod, taking some shots
> of the mountain. This had been the first day that you could actually see
> the Soufreire Hills without clouds. The haze from the Sahara dust has been
> terrible for over a week, but the view was still spectacular.
> The scientific teams were at various locations around the mountain
> using the improved visibility to make observations and measurements. In mid
> afternoon Dr. Miller's voice came over my scanner advising the field teams
> that there had been a strong pulse on the seismic machines. The first flows
> were down Mosquito Ghaut, and teams were calling in from the airport and
> Windy Hill, visually confirming what the team at the MVO was watching on
> the drums.
> As the pulse continued, a good size flow topped Gages Wall and headed
> down the steep slope, covering Upper Gages Souffriere, and reaching down
> the valley as far as Lower Gages. It was pretty impressive, but didn't seem
> to be as convective or energetic as some of the flows we have seen in the
> Tar River Valley. Nonetheless, it was breathtaking and I felt very
> fortunate to have been there to catch it on video.
> The sirens in Town were activated and the Port and Rice Mill workers
> were told to leave immediately. I'm sure they didn't need to be told twice,
> as the ash cloud looked very much like the ones that rushed down over the
> city during the phreatic eruptions of "95".
> As it calmed down, I changed location and was able to get some beautiful
> shots of the ongoing activity in spite of the hazy conditions. The sky
> behind the mountain was deep blue and contrasted with the emerald green of
> Farrells yard, yet there, in between, was this ominus dark cloud, moving
> off to the West. It's strange how beautiful, something so dangerous can be!
> Glenn Lewis was standing near me and said, "You should take a picture of
> the moon". I looked up and sure enough an almost full moon was suspended
> directly over the volcano. I thought back to Glenn's article that I had
> read in last weeks' Reporter. "You might want to come back here again
> tomorrow", he said smiling. Hmmmmmmm...............
> I turned on my portable radio, wondering if ZJB was on the air, since
> their transmitter was hidden in a massive cloud of ash. I heard the voice
> of Rose Willock, but was very surprised to find out that the report she was
> giving was coming over Von Radio out of Nevis. ZJB was off the air, but
> Rose wasn't. I hope they have this, contingency plan, in place for times
> like this. It seemed to work pretty well. It was a phone interview. But we
> definitely need our ZJB on the air during times like this, especially for
> the people who are not as far north as they'd like to be.
> As darkness fell, I took some shots of a few trees that were smoldering
> about 300 yards above the new cement road that dead ends at what I believe
> is the southern most part of Gages Estate. The mountain seemed to be ready
> for a quiet night and up till now, (Tuesday morning at 10:00), I believe
> she's still sleeping... restlessly.
> As far as the airport goes, The flight came in late this morning, but I
> believe the airport is open for business. The check point is near the beach
> entrance before you get to the quarry road. I'm not sure of the procedure
> with taking people in for flights, although I dropped someone Sunday
> morning with no problem. I imagine that they will be even more cautious
> after the events of yesterday.
> I never intended to write this long, but I will end with one other
> piece of news that is noteworthy. A Christian friend of mine named Leo
> Palomo, whom I met in Jamaica many years ago, was able to put together a
> shipment of relief supplies that arrived last week from Puerto Rico on the
> British tanker, Black Rover. The majority of the stuff was from Operation
> Blessing, an arm of Pat Robertson's ministry in Virginia Beach. With the
> help of the British, the US Coast Guard, and key people in Puerto Rico,
> Barbados and Montserrat, 42,000 lbs of diapers ( for both adults and
> babies), food, baby things, equipment and much more was offloaded onto the
> Capt. Johnny and then brought to the pier in Port Plymouth.
> It was placed into the capable hands of the Red Cross and the EOC for
> distribution. It was great to play even a small part in this, "Operation of
> If you're a watcher of the 700 Club, you will probably see some great
> footage we got of the whole operation.
> That's it for now, I hope that this has helped those of you overseas to
> get a feel for what's going on. Life seems to go back to normal very
> quickly after these things. I think most Monserratians have a pretty good
> feel for how the lady on the hill behaves and we trust they know to keep
> their distance when she's acting up.
> David Lea
> PS I would like some feedback as to whether this kind of info is useful or
> . . . The Electronic Evergreen, courtesy of GEM Radio Network
first version: July 26, 1997;
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