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Hurricane Beryl’s devastation in the Caribbean

InternationalHurricane Beryl’s devastation in the Caribbean

Photo: Communities destroyed by Beryl in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Reuters)

by Kristen Ku

BELIZE CITY, Wed. July 3, 2024

Hurricane Beryl has wreaked havoc across the Caribbean, leaving a trail of destruction in its path. The storm, initially classified as a Category 5 hurricane, brought winds reaching speeds of 240 km/h (150 mph).

These powerful gusts tore roofs from buildings, uprooted trees, and caused widespread devastation on the islands of Grenada, St. Vincent, and others as it passed over them.

Despite being downgraded to a Category 4 hurricane, Beryl continues to pose a threat to other parts of the Caribbean. The U.S. National Hurricane Center has issued warnings of life-threatening winds and storm surges of 6-9 feet for Jamaica, and had projected that the storm would hit later today, Wednesday, July 3. The Cayman Islands are also bracing for the hurricane’s impact, where it is predicted to arrive on Thursday, July 4.

The death toll from Hurricane Beryl is currently at least six individuals, with fatalities reported in Grenada, St. Vincent, and northern Venezuela. Thousands of residents have been left homeless, as their homes were either destroyed or severely damaged by the storm. The impact has been particularly harsh on the Grenadine island of Carriacou, where homes were ripped apart by the intense winds and heavy rainfall.

The storm has caused extensive damage in various locations:

Barbados: In Bridgetown’s Hastings neighborhood, homes and businesses were severely damaged. Buildings were left in ruins, with roofs torn off and debris scattered across the area.

Grenada: In the town of Sauteurs, many houses lost their roofs, and property damage was reported.

St. Lucia: Waterfront businesses in Soufriere have been struck by extensive damage, with sand, stones, and furniture left smashed against buildings.

Dominican Republic: While the storm’s full force passed by the south and southwest, the wind and rain were still intense enough to close roads and displace dozens of residents.

Notably, Grenada, known as the “spice isle” for its nutmeg production, has been hit hard. Their Prime Minister, Dickon Mitchell, reported extensive damage to the northern part of the island, where the bulk of the spices are grown. The local economy, heavily reliant on this industry, will now face challenges in the aftermath of the storm.

The last significant hurricane to hit the southeast Caribbean was Hurricane Ivan, which struck 20 years ago and claimed dozens of lives in Grenada. The current devastation brought by Beryl has drawn comparisons.

Both officials and residents have pointed to the worsening climate crisis as a factor in the increasing frequency and intensity of such storms.

According to forecasts, come Friday morning, Hurricane Beryl is also expected to make landfall on Mexico’s Quintana Roo coast. This may result in flooding across low-lying and flood-prone areas of Belize, especially over the North, as the ground is already saturated. Additionally, a Tropical Storm Watch has been put into effect from Belize City to Corozal, including the islands of Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker.

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