Hurricane Beryl ‘come like a tornado’ – Union Island resident
All utility poles in Union Island were destroyed.
July 5, 2024

Hurricane Beryl ‘come like a tornado’ – Union Island resident

by Christina Smith

‘It come like a tornado hit we, not no hurricane.”

These were the words used by a Union Island resident to describe the harrowing experience during the passage of Hurricane Beryl the Category 4 storm which smashed the island and has left up to three persons dead in the Grenadines.

SEARCHLIGHT understands there was a death on Palm Island, a male, while two people perished on Union Island.

Disaster management officials had warned, in the days leading up to the arrival of the hurricane, that the category four system, with winds of up to 130 miles per hour, had the potential to cause considerable damage to the country’s infrastructure and utilities network.

SEARCHLIGHT visited Union Island on Tuesday July 2, 2024, and witnessed the first stage of evacuations from the island.

Fallen trees and debris from buildings scattered around the street in Union Island.

Residents in the seaside town of Clifton, on the island’s south-east coast said the hurricane was terrifying, ripping off house roofs like it was paper, breaking windows and felling poles and trees.

“I look out on the water and see a circle thing that look like tornado coming up. I run and went down in the back and I hear all the roof, everything picking up. I push on the door to keep it shut but the wind was so strong it pushing me back. That wasn’t no hurricane, that thing come like a tornado,” a mainland resident who works on Union Island told SEARCHLIGHT.

The resident said after the passage of the hurricane, she and the other occupant of the house, an elderly man confined to a wheelchair, had to seek assistance from neighbours to get out as they were trapped by fallen debris. They went to a nearby shelter only to find that part of its roof had also blown off.

In Jerome Village, just outside Clifton, a family of three told SEARCHLIGHT the entire upstairs portion of their house was destroyed by Hurricane Beryl.

“We was looking at the sea, it was like the waves was coming, going in a circular motion and just pitch off. The wind come from the back. We wasn’t feeling anything, but after now the wind pick up a bit and the back window, something hit it and blow out the window,” Annis Neverson recounted.

After the windows were damaged, the roof went soon after, and the family was forced to flee downstairs to escape the high winds and rain.

The home of Annis Neverson from Union Island was destroyed.

In a small room, Neverson said she, her husband and her toddler son had to lie on the floor so as not to be blown away by the violent winds.

When asked why they chose not to evacuate to the mainland, Neverson said there were reports of looting and they preferred to stay to start the rebuilding process.

“We go stay and rally around. We have a generator once we get it start and try charge phones. We had to see what we could do, because the people loitering so much on the island. We could save a few things in the house still.”

Other residents who spoke to SEARCHLIGHT echoed similar sentiments, saying they would prefer to stay on Union Island than relocate to the mainland to stay in shelters.

Just over 300 people were moved from Union Island on July 2 and evacuations are expected to continue.