Beryl leaves trail of death, destruction in its wake
Sebastian Daniel from Point tries to put his roof back together after the passage of Hurricane Beryl (left) and a house in Clifton, Union Island, that was damaged from fallen utility lines during the passage of Hurricane Beryl (right)
Front Page, News
July 5, 2024

Beryl leaves trail of death, destruction in its wake

Hurricane Beryl, a monstrous Category 4 storm has come and gone; but not before leaving death and a trail of destruction across the multi-island State of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Not having a personal encounter with the juggernaut that was packing winds upwards of 130 miles per hour, thousands of residents were left dumbstruck when the savagery of Beryl’s encounter on July 1, 2024, was viewed in the immediacy of her passing, and since. Two persons were confirmed to have died as a result of the storm, and there are reports of a third death. The built infrastructure, especially in the southern Grenadine islands was left in tatters, with Union Island seeming to have borne the brunt of the hurricane’s fury. However, the extent of the destruction in Canouan and Mayreau is still is not fully known, though a few persons on mainland St Vincent who have relatives or friends in these two islands have said the destruction in Canouan for instance, is just as heart-breaking as that which continues to unfold on Union Island. And there is less information about the situation on the privately owned islands of Mustique and Palm Island. Not only were homes uprooted and roofs tossed away; hundreds of self-employed residents in these islands, and others whose businesses provided employment for others, are now left without an income.

Hurricane Beryl destroyed this house in Mayreau.

In a provisional address to the nation at 8:30 p.m on Monday, July 1, 2024, Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves spoke of “immense destruction” left in the wake of the hurricane with 90% of buildings in Union Island having been severely damaged or destroyed. Mobilisation efforts to ascertain the extent of the destruction and determine needs began on Tuesday, July 2 with the delivery by boat of basic supplies, and evacuation of residents from Union Island. Thousands of homes across the archipelagic state are without electricity and water as the hurricane downed swaths of power lines and communication infrastructure. Teams continue to do diligent work to restore power and water to consumers, but in some places, they have been told the power may be out for two to three weeks. There are upwards of 1400 persons in emergency shelters across mainland St Vincent including in schools which closed a few days earlier than planned because of the storm and the need to use these buildings to house displaced persons.

Disaster officials say there is not as yet a preliminary estimate of the damage which Hurricane Beryl has wrought, but the work to quantity it has begun.

The Rapid Response Assessment Mechanism, a unit of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency(C-DEMA), supported by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB),visited Union Island, Mayreau and Canouan on Wednesday, and were due to do some assessment on the mainland yesterday, July 4.

This passenger van in Jerome, Union Island, was blown away from its owner’s house by Hurricane Beryl.

A contingent of officers from the Regional Security System, travelled to Union Island also on July 4, where they will be stationed for some time providing security for the island, among other duties. There has been a swift response and commitment of funds to help in the recovery and rehabilitation efforts from some agencies and countries in the Region and elsewhere. World Central Kitchen, who assisted during the 2021 volcanic eruptions, has returned to the country to assist in the provision of food to people in shelters. Prime Minister Gonsalves, who has responsibility for disaster management in Cabinet, yesterday, July 4, 2024, announced a raft of measures aimed at bringing relief to those affected by the hurricane. These include full waiver of duties and other payments on specific imports. In several areas, homeowners have been seeking to put together the broken pieces of their lives. They have been repairing damaged roofs and clearing crops battered by the storm in preparation to replant. Many have said the road to recovery will be long and may be painful, but can be alleviated once every able bodied person makes whatever contribution they can to the process.