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Caribbean Communities Brace as Hurricane Beryl Moves Through

  • July 4, 2024
  • 3 min read
Caribbean Communities Brace as Hurricane Beryl Moves Through

Hurricane Beryl has unleashed havoc across the Caribbean, ripping roofs off homes in Jamaica, scattering fishing boats in Barbados, and causing significant damage to 95% of homes on two islands in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. This powerful storm, which has claimed at least seven lives, is now moving towards the Cayman Islands and Mexico’s Caribbean coast.

Beryl, which became the earliest storm to escalate into a Category 5 hurricane in the Atlantic, had weakened to a Category 3 by Thursday morning but remained formidable. Meteorologists predicted its eye would pass just south of the Cayman Islands overnight.

The National Hurricane Centre in Miami reported, “We expect Beryl to weaken over the next couple of days, but it should remain a hurricane until it makes landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula.”

Mexico’s Caribbean coast was in full preparation mode, with shelters being set up, small coastal communities evacuated, and sea turtle eggs relocated from storm surge-threatened beaches. Despite these precautions, nightlife continued in hotspots like Playa del Carmen and Tulum, where tourists enjoyed a final night out before the storm’s impact. The Mexican Navy patrolled these areas, advising tourists in both Spanish and English to brace for the storm.

Early Thursday, Beryl was located about 50 miles southwest of Grand Cayman and 385 miles east-southeast of Tulum, Mexico. The storm, with maximum sustained winds of 120 mph, was moving west-northwest at 20 mph. It was expected to make landfall in a sparsely populated area of lagoons and mangroves south of Tulum early Friday, likely as a Category 2 storm. From there, it was forecast to cross the Yucatan Peninsula, regain strength over the Gulf of Mexico, and potentially strike Mexico’s northeast coast near the Texas border.

Beryl had already demonstrated its destructive potential across the southeastern Caribbean. In Jamaica, the storm’s eye wall brushed the southern coast on Wednesday afternoon, causing power outages and tearing roofs off homes. Prime Minister Andrew Holness warned that Jamaica hadn’t yet seen “the worst of what could possibly happen.”

“We are doing everything humanly possible and leaving the rest in the hands of God,” Holness stated.

The government’s Information Service reported that fallen trees and utility poles blocked roadways in Jamaica’s interior, while some northern communities were left without electricity.

The hurricane’s earlier path had been especially devastating for two small islands in the Lesser Antilles. Michelle Forbes, director of the National Emergency Management Organization in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, reported that approximately 95% of homes on Mayreau and Union Island were damaged by Beryl.

Officials reported three fatalities in Grenada and Carriacou and one in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Additionally, three deaths were reported in northern Venezuela, with four people still missing.

In Grenada, a tragic incident occurred when a tree fell on a house, as reported by Environment Minister Kerryne James.

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has pledged to rebuild the affected islands, promising support and resources to those impacted.

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