Hurricane Beryl causes vast destruction in the Caribbean

Since its formation on June 28, Beryl has caused severe damage in Grenada, Barbados, Jamaica, St. Lucia, Venezuela, Mexico, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

July 09, 2024 by Peoples Dispatch
Rescue operations underway in Venezuela. Photo: Presidencia VZ

The impacts of Hurricane Beryl continue to be felt across the Caribbean where the hurricane passed through last week and caused significant damage to infrastructure, homes, and the electrical grids of several countries. On July 1, it reached the coast of Carriacou, Grenada, as a category-four hurricane. As it continued its journey from east to west of the Caribbean Sea, its strength increased to a category five hurricane, when winds reached a speed of 265 km/h (155 mph). Damage across the region is estimated to exceed USD 5 billion.

Grenada was the hardest hit by the storm as the hurricane affected 98% of the country’s infrastructure, especially on the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique. According to Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchel, the country will have to rebuild its infrastructure “from the ground up”. In addition, significant portions of the crops on the island have been destroyed and the electrical grid faces major challenges. Mangroves have been practically ripped from the ground by the force of the hurricane. The country reported the death of three people.

In Jamaica, hundreds of thousands of homes lost power after the hurricane. Prime Minister Andrew Holness ordered a curfew on the island. Several fallen trees blocked some roads in the country. In addition, many houses were destroyed by what, according to some experts, was the most severe storm in the last 15 years.

In St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the hurricane seriously affected the islands of Union Island and Canouan. Rhea Pierre, Disaster Management Officer for the International Federation for the Caribbean, said, “Our colleagues in St. Vincent reported that people were arriving from Union Island to St. Vincent with nothing but the clothes on their backs.”

Similar devastation was also seen in Barbados and St. Lucia which experienced severe flooding, winds, destruction to infrastructure, and loss of power.

The town of Cumanacoa in Venezuela suffered major flooding after Beryl hit on July 2. Over 25,000 people were affected by the flooding, 400 homes were completely destroyed, and close to 8,000 houses have some kind of damage. Three people are reported dead and five were reported missing. Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodríguez traveled to Sucre on July 2 along with a team of ministers to attend to victims of the flooding and herself was injured when a tree fell on her.

In Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Beryl affected several towns, though its strength had diminished to a category two hurricane. There were power outages in several Mexican towns and security forces distributed food and water to those affected.

Hurricane Beryl is now in Texas, where eight people have died and more than 2 million people in the Houston area have been left without power. The lack of power may pose a more significant threat to wellbeing than the storm itself as temperatures hover between 35-40 degrees celsius.

International organizations pledge assistance to affected countries

The Executive President of the Development Bank of Latin America and the Caribbean, Sergio Diaz, expressed his solidarity with the affected populations in the Caribbean and said, “We recognize the swift actions taken by those governments to support the communities that felt the full impact of Hurricane Beryl and we commend the citizens for their resilience in the face of adversity.” In addition, Diaz pledged immediate humanitarian aid for the affected populations, as well as a monetary donation: USD 250,000 for Jamaica, USD 250,000 for Barbados, USD 100,000 for Grenada, USD 100,000 for St. Lucia, and USD 100,000 for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The United Nations has also pledged four million dollars to countries now facing the harsh reality of the storm’s aftermath.