Home News Hurricane Beryl hits Jamaica after battering eastern Caribbean

Hurricane Beryl hits Jamaica after battering eastern Caribbean

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Hurricane Beryl slammed into Jamaica’s southern coast Wednesday, unleashing heavy seas, strong winds and flooding that killed at least one person on the island. The Category 4 hurricane struck Jamaica days after it swept across the eastern Caribbean, killing at least seven people.

After the hurricane made landfall on Grenada’s Carriacou and Petite Martinique earlier this week, nearly every building on the island was reduced to ruins, with hospitals and docks destroyed, roofs ripped off and tree trunks snapped like matchsticks and scattered across the sodden land.

“We have to rebuild from scratch,” said Grenada Prime Minister Deacon Mitchell.

Jamaica closed its airport and issued evacuation orders for low-lying and flood-prone areas before the hurricane hit. This is the strongest storm to approach the island in more than a decade. The last time a major hurricane came within 70 miles of Jamaica was in 2007, and it was even longer before it made landfall.

Jamaica’s first confirmed death from the storm was a woman who died when a tree fell on her house in the western parish of Hanover, said Richard Thompson, head of Jamaica’s disaster agency.

A rescue team was also searching for a 20-year-old man who was swept away while trying to retrieve a ball he was playing with friends in a gully in Kingston, according to Senior Sergeant Michael Phipps.

In Grenada, officials said about 98% of buildings on the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, home to 9,000 to 10,000 people, were damaged or destroyed, including the Princess Royal Hospital, the main medical facility on Carriacou. Crops were damaged, and downed trees and power poles littered the streets.

The natural environment has also suffered severe damage.

“There is almost no vegetation left on Carriacou,” Mr Mitchell said after visiting the island. “The mangroves have been completely destroyed.”

The death toll is likely to rise as recovery and rescue efforts continue. Officials reported three deaths in Grenada due to the storm, including two on the island of Carriacou. Another death was reported in the Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said on Tuesday that three people had died in the north of the country.

In Jamaica, as Hurricane Beryl moved away from the island, rescue teams began clearing roads blocked by fallen trees, debris and utility poles in several flood-ravaged communities. Officials said about 80 roads were affected. Many homes and businesses had their roofs blown off. Still-falling heavy rain and gusty winds hampered recovery efforts.

Power has been restored in some areas, but Jamaicans are counting their losses. St. Elizabeth Parish, known as Jamaica’s “breadbasket” because of its supply of staple crops, was hit hard by the storm.

“We have suffered heavy losses,” said Renworth Fulton, head of Jamaica’s largest agricultural group. “Crops such as yams, coconuts, coffee and carrots have all been severely affected.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness said nearly 500 people had sought refuge in shelters across the island.

The hurricane ripped off part of the roof of Jamaica’s main airport, Kingston’s Norman Manley International Airport, which was closed on Tuesday evening.

Jamaica’s Transport Minister Daryl Vaz said a plan is being developed to look at how the airport will operate during repairs to the boarding and arrivals jet bridge roof. The storm is expected to approach the Cayman Islands Wednesday night into Thursday morning with hurricane-like conditions and a storm surge of 2 to 4 feet.

In the Cayman Islands, most businesses began to close as residents lined up to buy last-minute goods and had to endure heavy traffic and slow commutes.

All hotels on the island have activated emergency plans and flights have evacuated more than 1,000 people.

Cayman Islands Governor Juliana O’Connor-Connolly said the stay-at-home order would take effect Wednesday evening.

“Let’s stay calm, be prepared, take care of each other and face this challenge together,” she said at a news conference. “If we work together, we can minimize the impacts of Hurricane Beryl and protect our communities.”

But the government’s actions have not reassured 40-year-old Puspa Lumba Makum.

“No matter what the leaders say, I’m really scared,” said Ms. Lumba-Makum, a hairstylist from Nepal. “I’m not sure the Cayman Islands is fully prepared.”

Forecasters are closely watching to see if the hurricane changes in intensity as it approaches the Yucatan Peninsula. There are concerns that the hurricane could strengthen again if it passes through the Gulf of Mexico this weekend. The hurricane is expected to make landfall again somewhere in the western Gulf of Mexico on Sunday or Monday, but its intensity and specific path remain uncertain.

The Mexican government has issued a hurricane warning for the Yucatan Peninsula, whose east coast stretches from Puerto Maya to Cancun.

The storm has already set records as the first Category 4 hurricane to form in the Atlantic early this season, and then the first Category 5 hurricane. Recent research finds As ocean temperatures rise, Atlantic hurricanes are more likely to develop into severe storms in as little as 24 hours.

Grenada Prime Minister Mitchell said the powerful storm was a direct result of global warming and that Grenada and similar countries were on the front lines of the climate crisis.

“We are no longer willing to accept a reality where we continue to suffer significant, visible loss and damage from climate events and are asked to rebuild year after year while the countries responsible for and exacerbating the situation sit idly by,” he said.

Jovan Johnson Reporting from Kingston, Jamaica; Daphne Ewing Chow from George Town, Cayman Islands; Linda Straker from Gouyave, Grenada.

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