How do we remember those who died on June 25, 1997?

by Bennette Roach

About 12.30 p.m. – June 25, 1997

This morning I asked a few peolple, who immediately but only then recalled the significance of my question: Who remembered where they were at about 12.30 p.m. on June 25, 1997. The stories came out, from very clear memories. What about you.

Last year on Sunday, June 25, 2017, Montserrat held a 20thYear Remembrance ceremony of the 19 persons who died during the tragic event of volcanic activity on June 25, 1997. A plaque displaying the names of the victims. A plaque was unveiled at the main service at the Cultural Centre and installed at the National Museum immediately after.

There were two memorial services held last week: one on Sunday afternoon and another on Tuesday afternoon, the day which was set aside as a national day of mourning.

Offices were officially asked to close at two o’clock on Tuesday, in honour of those persons who lost their lives or are still missing, though believed to be dead, in the tragic pyroclastic flows of Wednesday, June 25, 1997. The flows descended on villages from Streatham, Windy Hill, Harris, Farms Bethel, Spanish Pointe through Trants on the northeast and eastern end of the island, completely destroying some of them.

Both services were well attended by government dignitaries and officials, as well as family members of the dead and missing and the public in general.

Plans are being put in place to establish a fund for families of the victims of last week’s pyroclastic flow. This was put in motion with the offering that was taken up at the services.

Related: Memorial Services and Fundwww.montserratreporter.org – July 16, 1997

I previously wrote the following, information over which the discussions still continue as people are reminded.

“So people died, and later even to this day there are the reasons why it happened. But while HMG did not quite accept the verdict following the Inquiry which was presided over by Magistrate Rhys Burris, local government is yet to pursue some form of compensation for the survivors of these people. The deceased were where they were that day for varying reasons.

“Following the Inquest hearing: While the jurors found all 19 deaths were “caused by the natural catastrophe,” they pointed the finger of responsibility at both Her Majesty’s Government and the Government of Montserrat in at least some of them (the deaths).

“In London, the Foreign Office promptly disclaimed any responsibility of Her Majesty’s Government in the deaths. In a statement reported by the BBC, it said, “On May 23, the farmers were told to stop farming in the area nearest the volcano. It is inconceivable that they were not aware of the dangers.”

Today, let us remember these people. “Their deaths brought urgent attention which again to this day as we recall 20 years since the crisis began, the question must be how strong the indication of the casual way the Montserrat recovery has progressed, or retrogressed.

  • Alwin Allen, 44, a livestock farmer, died in Farms.
  • Winston Allen, 41, chauffeur and livestock farmer, died in Farms.
  • Benjamin / Joseph Brown, 71, a farmer, died in the central area of Montserrat.
  • Felina Celestine, 45, a farmer, died in Farrells.
  • Melville Cuffy, 39, a farm worker, died in Farrells.
  • Beryl Grant, 73, farmer and huckster, died in Harris.
  • Edith Greenaway, 69, resident, died at her home in Streathams.
  • Joseph Greenaway, 62, resident, died at his home in Windy Hill.
  • Mary Bernardine Harris, 44, resident, died at her home in Farms.
  • Alicia Joseph, 23, resident, died at her home in Farms.
  • Allister Joseph, 3-months, died with his mother in Farms.
  • Isolyn Lewis, 43, a farmer, died in Farrells.
  • Chana Rueben Boatswaine/Horrance Murraine, 66, airport worker, died in Farms.
  • Keithley Ponde, 32, a farmer, died in Farrells.
  • Hezekiah Riley, age unknown, described as mentally unstable, died at his home in Streathams.
  • Phillip Robinson, 66, a farmer, died in Streathams.
  • Anthony Sutton, 72, resident, died at his home in Farms.
  • Virginia Sutton, 70, resident, died at her home in Farms.
  • Joseph / Simon Tuitt / White, 45, airport worker, died in Farms.

“Above are the names of those who perished in that tragic and fateful volcanic extra-ordinary event of June 25, 1997. Theirs were lives lost that need not to have happened when and how they did. As we remember them and the day, we need also to remember the many others who have since died slowly, while not directly from an event, but from other events over the entire crisis. There are others who suffered and others who continue to suffer and some who have indeed died, only because circumstances were slow in being corrected or attended to at all.

“This was said almost 17 years ago. “Others may die slower deaths, but it is up to us who must do something about it, if it is only by breaking a silence and deliberating and strategizing ways to deal with these problems.”

“This remains valid today.”

 

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by Bennette Roach

About 12.30 p.m. – June 25, 1997

This morning I asked a few peolple, who immediately but only then recalled the significance of my question: Who remembered where they were at about 12.30 p.m. on June 25, 1997. The stories came out, from very clear memories. What about you.

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Last year on Sunday, June 25, 2017, Montserrat held a 20thYear Remembrance ceremony of the 19 persons who died during the tragic event of volcanic activity on June 25, 1997. A plaque displaying the names of the victims. A plaque was unveiled at the main service at the Cultural Centre and installed at the National Museum immediately after.

There were two memorial services held last week: one on Sunday afternoon and another on Tuesday afternoon, the day which was set aside as a national day of mourning.

Offices were officially asked to close at two o’clock on Tuesday, in honour of those persons who lost their lives or are still missing, though believed to be dead, in the tragic pyroclastic flows of Wednesday, June 25, 1997. The flows descended on villages from Streatham, Windy Hill, Harris, Farms Bethel, Spanish Pointe through Trants on the northeast and eastern end of the island, completely destroying some of them.

Both services were well attended by government dignitaries and officials, as well as family members of the dead and missing and the public in general.

Plans are being put in place to establish a fund for families of the victims of last week’s pyroclastic flow. This was put in motion with the offering that was taken up at the services.

Related: Memorial Services and Fundwww.montserratreporter.org – July 16, 1997

I previously wrote the following, information over which the discussions still continue as people are reminded.

“So people died, and later even to this day there are the reasons why it happened. But while HMG did not quite accept the verdict following the Inquiry which was presided over by Magistrate Rhys Burris, local government is yet to pursue some form of compensation for the survivors of these people. The deceased were where they were that day for varying reasons.

“Following the Inquest hearing: While the jurors found all 19 deaths were “caused by the natural catastrophe,” they pointed the finger of responsibility at both Her Majesty’s Government and the Government of Montserrat in at least some of them (the deaths).

“In London, the Foreign Office promptly disclaimed any responsibility of Her Majesty’s Government in the deaths. In a statement reported by the BBC, it said, “On May 23, the farmers were told to stop farming in the area nearest the volcano. It is inconceivable that they were not aware of the dangers.”

Today, let us remember these people. “Their deaths brought urgent attention which again to this day as we recall 20 years since the crisis began, the question must be how strong the indication of the casual way the Montserrat recovery has progressed, or retrogressed.

“Above are the names of those who perished in that tragic and fateful volcanic extra-ordinary event of June 25, 1997. Theirs were lives lost that need not to have happened when and how they did. As we remember them and the day, we need also to remember the many others who have since died slowly, while not directly from an event, but from other events over the entire crisis. There are others who suffered and others who continue to suffer and some who have indeed died, only because circumstances were slow in being corrected or attended to at all.

“This was said almost 17 years ago. “Others may die slower deaths, but it is up to us who must do something about it, if it is only by breaking a silence and deliberating and strategizing ways to deal with these problems.”

“This remains valid today.”