McLarens CAT Bulletin | La Soufriere Volcano Eruptions

16 April 2021

Recent eruptions from the La Soufriere Volcano in the Caribbean Island of St. Vincent have produced clouds of smoke and thick ash over surrounding areas, seen as far as Barbados. Over 16,000 residents evacuated their homes and the potential for property damage claims due to high volcanic ash is high.

As a volcano erupts, it blows out volcanic ash and gases. Although ash sounds harmless, ‘volcanic ash’ can cause many issues. This is due to it being tiny pieces of glass, minerals and rock which can be acidic and contain a range of elements which can damage where they land.

Damage to Buildings

When we consider the impact of volcanic ash on buildings, most will usually be superficial or limited damage from a light layer of ash. However, the size of the area with significant building damage can vary with each eruption of the same volcano depending on proximity to the eruption, wind conditions and building structures.

There are many scenarios that are likely to result from such an incident such as damage or disruption to:

  • Surfaces covered in ash
  • Paint work (external or internal)
  • Decorated surfaces exposed to chemicals/harsh methods in clean-up
  • Roofs with heavy ash fall causing loading/structural damage
  • Metal brackets due to corrosive damage (depending on the type of ash)
  • HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems obstructed
  • Drainage systems obstructed, with potential for escapes of water incidents
  • Goods and products stored externally
  • Growing crops and adverse effect livestock
  • Services such as electricity, water and phone lines.

Many of these issues can be limited by early mitigation steps, particularly as weather conditions can cause further damage by moving ash deposits. Our McLarens CAT Response team in the Caribbean continues to closely monitor the situation. We are ready to assist and mobilize loss adjusters and surveyors in the region.

Jorge Diaz
Head of the Caribbean