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At Least One Person Has Died As Hurricane Beryl Strikes The Caribbean

At Least One Person Has Died As Hurricane Beryl Strikes The Caribbean

Hurricane Beryl has caused at least one fatality after hitting several Caribbean countries. Thousands are without power or in temporary shelters in St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, and St Lucia. The storm intensified to Category 5 and is moving west toward Jamaica, expected to reach southeast Mexico later this week.

Social media images show homes with roofs blown off and residents sorting through debris. Carriacou Island in Grenada saw severe damage shortly after Beryl’s landfall, described by Grenada’s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell as being devastated within half an hour.

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St Vincent and the Grenadines’ Premier Ralph Gonsalves confirmed one death and warned of potential further casualties. Airports and businesses closed, and residents were advised to seek shelter as the storm approached.

‘We’re still facing challenges’

In a press briefing on Monday, Mr. Mitchell cautioned, “We’re still facing significant challenges.” Grenada has also encountered multiple power outages affecting communication and access to government updates.
The hurricane currently has maximum sustained winds near 150mph (241km/h), according to the latest update from the NHC, and is moving westward.
A hurricane watch is in effect for Jamaica, indicating likely hurricane conditions by Wednesday.
“It’s a serious situation,” said St Vincent and the Grenadines PM Ralph Gonsalves, recalling the devastation caused by previous hurricanes.In a national address from his official residence, Mr. Gonsalves mentioned seeking shelter in his basement.
“The roof, particularly the old section, may not withstand 150mph winds. I am preparing to move downstairs,” he stated. The hurricane was upgraded to Category 4 on Monday after slight weakening earlier.
The NHC anticipates fluctuations in intensity but warned of potential “catastrophic wind damage” for parts of the Windward Islands. St Vincent and the Grenadines, along with Grenada, face the highest risk of damage. Hurricane shelters opened at 18:00 local time (22:00 GMT) on Sunday.

The NOAA warned that the North Atlantic may experience up to seven major hurricanes this year, significantly higher than the average of three per season, attributing this to exceptionally warm sea surface temperatures.

Experts noted the rapid intensification of Hurricane Beryl, which strengthened from a tropical depression to a Category 3 or higher hurricane in just 42 hours, according to hurricane specialist Sam Lillo of the Associated Press.

In response to the warnings, many in the region have taken precautions: stores have closed, people have stocked up on essentials like fuel and groceries, and Grenada declared a state of emergency while St Lucia implemented a “national shutdown,” closing schools and businesses.

‘We had to flee from our studio in haste’

As Hurricane Beryl approached St Vincent and the Grenadines, journalists Colvin Harry and Dionne John were broadcasting live on the country’s National Broadcasting Corporation. They provided updates on the storm’s progress, urging people to stay indoors and heed official warnings.

During their broadcast, winds intensified in Kingstown, visible on their livestream. After an hour, a neighboring building’s roof collapsed, forcing them to seek shelter nearby. “We need to pause to ensure our safety,” Colvin calmly announced on air.

Reflecting on the situation later, Colvin explained they had to hastily leave their studio. He informed via WhatsApp that they found refuge in a temporary location but noted extensive roof damage across the area, affecting churches, public buildings, and schools. “It’s a serious situation, we’ve been hit hard,” he added.

Unprecedented hurricane

St Vincent and the Grenadines is among several Caribbean nations in the hurricane’s path, which has intensified significantly in the last three days. Rapidly strengthening storms can surprise people, despite the region’s experience in preparing for hurricanes.

Early warnings are crucial for protecting lives. Human-induced warming of ocean temperatures is increasing the frequency and intensity of these storms. Hurricanes like Beryl pose a serious threat to the region with sustained winds, dangerous gusts, heavy rainfall, and risks of storm surges and flash flooding in coastal and mountainous areas prone to landslides.

In this situation, despite the short notice, many residents in the hurricane’s path managed to gather essential supplies. People queued at gas stations and hardware stores in St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, which is expected to bear the brunt of Beryl’s impact. Thousands of homes were boarded up, and there is optimism that preparedness measures and experience will mitigate the storm’s impact.

However, even with ample preparation, storms as powerful as Beryl can overwhelm. The devastating 2017 hurricane season, marked by Irma and Maria, serves as a stark reminder of the destructive potential of such storms, especially when warnings come late compared to other hurricanes. Some communities may have been caught unprepared, risking lives due to unsecured infrastructure or underestimating the storm’s severity.

Communication has been disrupted to smaller islands like Carriacou and Petit Martinique, leaving authorities waiting to assess the damage once the storm passes. Beryl remains a pressing concern for nations already affected and those still awaiting its arrival.

The current situation underscores concerns for the rest of the Atlantic hurricane season, which experts predict will be active and intense following Beryl’s early impact.