CDEMA: Significant damage to Grenada, SVG in wake of Hurricane Beryl

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Evacuees from Union Island arrive in Kingstown, St Vincent and the Grenadines on July 2 after the island was hit by Hurricane Beryl on July 1. – AP PHOTO

THE islands in St Vincent and the Grenadines as well as the islands off Grenada bore the brunt of the damage caused by Hurricane Beryl, according to the Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA).

The agency updated the region in a virtual media conference on the initial assessment of the damage caused by the hurricane when it passed over several islands in the southern Caribbean.

CDEMA executive director Elizabeth Riley said the agency was able to assess damage to the islands through an aerial reconnaissance mission on July 2.

She said in St Vincent and the Grenadines, 100 per cent of the population of the island of Canouan, estimated at 12,600 people, were affected by the hurricane, with 90 per cent of the houses either extensively damaged or destroyed. She confirmed the police station in Charlestown had lost its roof.

On Union Island, the 3,000-person population was also affected, with 98 per cent of the buildings, including houses, being damaged. Riley said the airport building had been badly damaged, and the control tower of the airport had been destroyed. She added that the roof of the hospital was also destroyed.

The power plant was severely damaged. About 30 per cent of the panels in the island’s solar farm were either damaged or destroyed.

A screenshot from a video posted by Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell showing the destruction on Carriacou on July 2 after Hurricane Beryl made landfall on July 1. – Photo courtesy Dickon Mitchell’s Facebook

In Grenada, there were reports of damage in Carriacou, which has a population of about 6,081.

“Initial reports are that the majority of the homes and buildings on that island have been extensively damaged,” Riley said. “The majority of the people who have been affected are currently sheltering in places with temporary arrangements.”

The majority of homes and buildings in Petite Martinique were also severely damaged, with the entire 900-person population being affected by the hurricane.

Other islands hit by Beryl reported damage to coastal areas, power outages, landslides and fallen trees.

In Barbados, the fishing sector and coastal areas experienced significant damage, particularly to the south of the island. Riley said over 200 boats were damaged and there were partial road obstructions due to debris and fallen trees. St Lucia got significant damage to the south of the island, especially along the Soufrière waterfront. St Lucia also reported fallen trees and landslides.

TT reported power outages, water disruptions and temporarily blocked roads. Dominica only reported minor damage.

Riley said CDEMA could not confirm an official death toll, although reports have come in that at least four people have died.

Caricom rallies ‘round affected islands

Riley said several islands in the region came together to co-ordinate relief efforts for severely affected islands.

CDEMA’s co-ordinating unit activated its regional plan on June 29.

An emergency meeting of heads of government was also convened on June 30 to address the response.

“We have activated within the Regional Co-ordination Centre. A number of thematic groups, including the relief logistics thematic group at this group co-chaired by CDEMA and the World Food Programme, are in the process of establishing our relief transhipment hub at shed one of the Barbados port,” she said.

The hub is expected to be in operation by July 3.

CDEMA also deployed Caricom’s emergency telecommunications teams to St Vincent and the Grenadines with communication supplies, including laptops, Starlink satellite internet service and a solar-powered generator.

“Barbuda, in particular, has provided co-ordination of support out of Antigua. They have also provided a suite of relief items: ice, water, human resources in the form of search-and-rescue and security contingents supporting the RSS efforts in that regard.”

Boats damaged by Hurricane Beryl at the Bridgetown Fisheries, Barbados on July 2.- AP PHOTO

Guyana, in addition to providing two flights on July 2 with relief items, provided air transport for relief teams and supplies.

“Five hundred cots, 500 tarpaulins, as well as a quantity of plastic sheeting and medical support are also pledged, and arrangements are being made for the delivery of those items.”

TT, the sub-regional focal point for the CDEMA southern region, dispatched several relief items to affected islands. TT also supplied human resources to support the Emergency Operation Centre’s efforts in Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

The TT Air Guard and Defence Force also undertook several measures, including aerial support and the movement of personnel.

Relief restrained in Haiti

As Hurricane Beryl affected Jamaica on July 3 and is on a trajectory to the Cayman Islands and the South of Haiti, Riley said preparations in Jamaica and the Cayman Islands were under way.

But she said there were significant challenges in preparing Haiti amid its ongoing social unrest.

“The Haiti situation is a complex one, because, you know, the effective approaches and even arrangements for support to Haiti are complicated by issues around conflict.“Of course, this is a matter that CDEMA is very much keeping its eye on because we know that humanitarian action for it to take place effectively, it has to take place in safe spaces.”

She said the Civil Protection Department in Haiti is constrained because of the conflict in the country, so actions such as public awareness programmes, which need freedom of movement, are difficult to carry out safely.