9 November 2010

The human side of landslides

Posted by Dave Petley

The recent passage of Hurricane Tomas across St Lucia, about which I have posted previously, has left a trail of destruction that has been surprisingly under-reported in the mainstream media.  There are some dramatic pictures of the impact of the storm on this blog.  Emerging from the wreckage is a very human story of the destructive nature of landslides. 

The Livity Art Studio (pictured above) was a popular tourist destination on the island.  It is featured in a number of web pages – for example this site, which is also the source of the image.  The studio is described on that web page as follows:

“Livity Art Studio is a family run business with a lovely roadside shop in Colombette, Soufriere. Husband and wife team, Sabi and Eugenia work alongside their in-house artist ‘Edge’ and together they create an exciting range of art and art-crafts.”

When Tomas struck the studio was occupied by the owners, Sabi and Eugenia (photographed above to the left – image from here), their two children and the resident artist ‘Edge’.  It appears that during the storm the studio was struck by a landslide .  The One Little House blog has an image that reportedly shows the landslide (above right) ( note – I have no way to verify whether this is the case, and am not sure where the buildings were – maybe bottom right?).  Tragically, all five occupants of the house were killed and the studio was destroyed.  The bodies have been recovered.

There are several websites seeking to remember these five obviously very popular residents of St Lucia – see here for example.   When presenting objective statistics about the impact of natural disasters – such as my post yesterday – it is very easy to forget the very real human story that underpins the numbers.