 Continued from previous page There were historical records of several earthquake swarms that did not lead to the extrusion of material. Those swarms had taken place in 30-year intervals from 1900 until 1966. The events that started in 1995 continued for the next 10 years and thus in many ways became an unfolding Recovery challenge for the people of Montserrat. The island became dependent on budgetary support from the United Kingdom Government. Assistance has also been provided by other partners, notably, CARICOM member states. Prior to the onset of volcanic activity, Montserrat was justifiably known as “The Emerald Isle”. There were verdant hills and mountains along a central ridge which extended along the island’s long axis – north to south. The island was deeply incised by numerous seasonal stream beds known locally as ghauts (pronounced guts). The variations in elevation (up to 3,000 feet) produced an unusual variety of flora and fauna. It ranged from patches of scrub to lush tropical forests. There was agouti, mountain chicken, iguana and the Monserrat Oriole bird species among the fauna. There were magnificent vistas from most homes. The coastal zone is marked by precipitous depths descending from black-sand beaches. There are few coral reefs. Montserratians had achieved and maintained a relatively high standard of living, despite the small size of the island (11 miles by 7 miles at the longest and widest). The GDP per capita was noticeably high. The island was 39 square miles in area at the time of the eruption. Today, the permanently occupied portion is about 15 square miles. Much of what was the more verdant and productive agriculture and forests areas now in the Exclusion Zone. Ironically, that same section of the island had housed almost all the crucial, economic, commercial and social infrastructure on the island including the hospital, the seaport, radio stations and many schools. More than 70 per cent of the people of Montserrat resided in their own homes in July 1995. Electricity and water supplies were reliable.  Continues on next page People of Salem Village under the shadow of an ash cloud. 14

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