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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 
>                 CONGRATULATIONS!
>     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 
> Blessing".
> 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 
> not.
> . . . The Electronic Evergreen, courtesy of GEM Radio Network


first version: July 26, 1997; file:/~ehem/MTS_David_Lea_jun97.html;

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