Main issues of an evacuation in case of volcanic crisis: social stakes in Guadeloupe (Lesser Antilles Arc)

Abstract

The last major eruption of La Soufrière volcano in Guadeloupe (Lesser Antilles) in 1976–1977 caused the mass evacuation of part of the population, whereby a total of 76,000 people were displaced for a period of 3–6 months. This evacuation has left a bitter memory among the inhabitants who believed that the political authorities of the time had not anticipated the possibility of an eruption crisis and that decisions were taken in haste. La Soufrière remains active, and future eruptions could once again lead to partial or even total evacuation of the population if there were a major Plinian eruption. This article offers an investigation of future evacuation procedures, questioning different aspects of Guadeloupe’s current territorial and social challenges (the multi-risk context, the reporting to the scientists and to the authorities, the importance of local solidarity). In order to do so, we used the Focus Group Discussion method, making it possible to identify resources and gaps in crisis management on the basis of previous event history.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    DGFI0050, income tax payable by individuals.

  2. 2.

    INSEE, RP2009 main agriculture.

  3. 3.

    INSEE Report, July 2011.

  4. 4.

    INSEE, RP2009 main agriculture.

  5. 5.

    Senate Report 2011.

  6. 6.

    INSEE, RP2009, Exploitations complementaires lieu de travail [Additional types of farming, workplace].

  7. 7.

    The information was published by the France-Antilles daily paper on 5/07/2012 which claimed that a survey showed that in the French Antilles, 542 schools were not considered to meet anti-earthquake standards.

  8. 8.

    These criticisms were reported by the national information newspaper Libération dated 19 September 1995, in an article entitled “Guadeloupe: after the hurricane, the polemic. Would the damage caused by Marilyn have been less if alert no. 2 had been triggered earlier?” (Michel 1995).

  9. 9.

    As for the number of road accidents, even though the number of accidents per person is no higher in Guadeloupe than it is in mainland France, they are much more serious. In 2011, there were 13.1 deaths for 100 accidents in Guadeloupe, against 6.1 in mainland France (source: Guadeloupe Prefecture).

  10. 10.

    Guadeloupe is widely affected by infectious and parasitic diseases. In 2009, it was at the origin of 23.4 deaths per 100,000 habitants (as against 17.2 in metropolitan France), 4.5 alone being attributable to HIV (as against 0.8 in metropolitan France). Sources: INSERM, INSEE, Population Estimates.

  11. 11.

    http://www.ipgp.fr/pages/040704.php.

  12. 12.

    INSEE, Registrations (new and second-hand vehicles) 2009.

  13. 13.

    Consultable at the IPGP’s site: http://www.ipgp.fr/pages/0303040901.php.

  14. 14.

    Literally “a helping hand” in Creole (from the French “coup de main”) which could be translated as a “collective organised helping hand” (Thibault 2012).

  15. 15.

    Source: INSEE, timetable investigation, 2009–2010.

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Acknowledgments

The research was undertaken as a part of the ANR CASAVA Programme. We thank all those who participated in the FGD, as well as J. C. Komorowski, J. C. Gaillard, M.-D. Baillard, M. Mas and the members of the CASAVA Programme. We also thank the reviewers for their careful review of the manuscript and their constructive comments. Formal English language improvements were provided by T. Lane.

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Chenet, M., Grancher, D. & Redon, M. Main issues of an evacuation in case of volcanic crisis: social stakes in Guadeloupe (Lesser Antilles Arc). Nat Hazards 73, 2127–2147 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11069-014-1184-6

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Keywords

  • Volcanic crisis
  • Evacuation
  • Social challenges
  • Guadeloupe
  • Antilles