Premier, Hon. Joseph E. Farrell
Issue Date: July 18, 2020
Montserratians at home and abroad, friends of Montserrat I greet you on this the 25th Anniversary of the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano.
We come together today as a people bound by our past, bound by our faith in Almighty God and bound by our genuine love for this island called Montserrat; Alliougana –the Emerald Isle.
It has often been said, that no generation can choose the age or the circumstance into which they were born. But through unity, courage, enterprise, and leadership we can choose to become agents for change and prosperity.
Alliougana – land of the prickly bush; 11 miles long and 7 miles wide. Ours is not a perfect history. And we are not a perfect people.
We have had our fair share of natural disasters, earthquakes, hurricanes and floods.
But none have brought the kind of change to the islands physical landscape, the displacement of our peoples and destruction of lives and livelihoods, as the eruption of the Soufriere Hills Volcano.
Many of us had to flee our homes during the phased eruptions, moving northwards, to Salem, and beyond, camping along the way to our final destinations—North of Montserrat and even overseas.
Communal living in public spaces, such as schools, churches, and shelters became our way of life in those early years but in the spirit of resilience we have survived, we have endured and, we have overcome.
Over thirty years ago in September of 1989 Hurricane Hugo damaged over 90% of the homes on island.
In July 1995, the Soufriere Hills Volcano erupted
In June 1997, major volcanic eruptions killed 19 persons, flattening our villages, forests and agricultural lands.
In December 1997, a series of devastating volcanic explosions rendered almost two-thirds of our beloved island uninhabitable.
In 2003, further significant eruptions destroyed additional land and agriculture infrastructure.
The Emerald Isle of the Caribbean – picture-perfect and evergreen; well known for our natural beauty.
Its physical landscape battered in places but not obliterated. It is God who spared our lives and spared Monserrat and for this we are eternally grateful.
Twenty-five 25 years and we are still here to God be the glory!
In 2020, as the world sits at the cusp of a pandemic brought about by the coronavirus, COVID-19, I say to you as your Premier and Leader of Government business that, this too shall pass.
We will not be swallowed up. Rest assured that the health and well-being of the Montserrat population will always be my government’s highest priority and we will continue to work together to protect each other.
I will always remind all of us, that we are in this together, — the whole world is in this pandemic and we will all come out victorious.
So even as we reflect on the volcano’s eruption and subsequent crisis, our thoughts and prayers are also with the thousands of families who have lost loved ones to COVID-19, and to the millions of persons who have been infected by the virus. We feel your pain, knowing full well that it could have been anyone of us.
Do stay strong.
We are a unique and blessed people who have come this far by faith, not because we deserve God’s favour, but because he cares so much for us. And that is why earlier this week, we joined with the Montserrat Christian Council in a National Day of Prayer and Thanksgiving to observe this twenty-fifth anniversary of the volcanic eruptions.
I believe that as a people we have much to thank God for.
He has bestowed on us much more than we deserve, and so I ask that we continue to pray, giving him thanks for all of his blessings, protection and guidance over these past 25 years.
I close with these words from a hymn written by Philip Doddridge:
O God of Bethel by whose hand
Thy children still are fed
Who through this weary wilderness
Has all our fathers led
Such blessings from thy gracious hand
Our humble prayers implore
And Thou shall be our chosen God
And Portion evermore
To God be the glory!