This disaster, on May 8, 1902.
People have come back. From this tourist’s 2003 video, it looks like the place is still in transition. While no travel agency production, the video shows just what I would look for on a visit: signs of the ancient tragedy, signs of healing.
Frank Perret might have liked that, too.
It also shows, in living, moving color many of the same natural scenes that photographs from 1902 and immediately afterwards only captured in black-and-white.
But I think that St. Pierre will never thrive or be truly healthy again, not even if this seaside town grows into a city, until the human spirit reasserts itself, removes the green curtain Nature is drawing over old horrors, tears down all of those ruins except for a few memorials and areas of consecrated ground, and builds over them a suitable place for itself in the 21st century.
This will happen — I have faith in the human spirit and in the French — but they are not quite yet there. The transition continues.
One point: It wasn’t just poisonous gases in 1902. It was this. Hundreds also died in massive lahars.
Today, Mount Pelée is monitored (French) and is currently showing a little — just a little — unrest. The Aviation Code is Yellow.
And lahars, while ongoing and still hazardous (French), are much smaller, for the moment.