TT escapes monster hurricane but… Beryl batters Windwards

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

A surfer braves rough waves in Carlisle Bay as Hurricane Beryl passed through Barbados on July 1. – AP PHOTO

MONSTER Category 4 hurricane Beryl brushed past Tobago on July 1 as it churned north towards the Windward Island, making landfall in the island of Carriacou leaving a trail of damage and destruction, but with no reports of human casualties yet.

With the storm remaining “extremely dangerous,” Barbados, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Martinique remained all under hurricane warning.

The islands experienced widespread power outages, water shortages and infrastructure damage.

Beryl slammed into Carriacou off Grenada, on Monday morning after regaining category four strength with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph (approximately 225 km/h). Earlier, she had dropped to category three.

It is the first storm on record in the Atlantic to reach category four strength in June.

In a statement just after midday, Grenada PM Dickon Mitchell said he anticipated damage caused by the hurricane in Carriacou “will be extreme.

“As soon as it is safe to do so I will journey to Carriacou to assess the damage and give a full report to the nation,” he said, adding that while the eye of the hurricane did not pass over Grenada, the island expected strong winds, storm surges and continued heavy precipitation, “for the next several hours.”

Carriacou has a population of about 10,000 and is best known for its beaches and coral reef.

Carriacou and the other islands will remain vigilant as another disturbance – Invest 96L – was reported by the Hurricane Centre in Miami, about 1,000 miles (1609.3 km) east-southeast of the Windward Islands, reportedly on a path similar to Beryl’s.

The US Hurricane Center warned, “Environmental conditions appear marginally conducive for additional development of this system, and a tropical depression could form by the middle part of this week while it moves generally westward at 15-20 mph across the central and western tropical Atlantic.

“It has a 20 per cent chance of development over the next two days and a 50 per cent chance of development over the next seven days.”


Caricom chairman and Guyana president Dr Irfaan Ali said he was deeply concerned and anxious over Beryl’s passage through the Caribbean.

In a statement on Caricom’s website, Ali said, “Initial reports have indicated significant damage and destruction to infrastructure and private property in some territories.

“As this weather phenomenon roars its way through the region, we must continue to brace ourselves against the effects of high winds, storm surges along sea coasts, and heavy rainfall.”

Ali called on citizens and the private sector to co-ordinate with their respective governments and regional emergency response agencies to provide support and relief to those affected by the hurricane.

He said the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) was already working to mobilise and co-ordinate assistance and disaster relief.

“This is a time for all of us as a regional community to stand together and extend our support to those impacted or likely to be impacted by Hurricane Beryl. Let us mobilise the necessary assistance and relief efforts in the true spirit of regional solidarity.”

The 47th regular meeting of the Caricom Heads of Government, which was supposed to take place in Grenada from July 3-5, has been postponed.

The Caricom Private Sector Organization (CPSO) met on July 1 to begin co-ordination to support member states.

CPSO chief executive and technical director Dr Patrick Antoine “sought to ensure co-ordination and alignment of the private-sector response and that participating entities were on standby and in a state of readiness to provide the required aid.”

Private-sector companies and business support organisations from TT, Antigua and Barbuda, Suriname and Guyana, took part.

CPSO executive committee member and TT Energy Chamber CEO Dr Thackwray Driver said, “Ultimately, the assistance and support that we aim (to provide) must be informed by a needs list.

“Sometimes, unfortunately, well-meaning private-sector and other persons may wish to share a variety of items, but we want to ensure that the support we extend matches the needs of the persons and private sectors in the affected countries as much as possible.”

The CPSO said regional water agencies have pledged “to ensure that an emergency supply is ready and on hand, if required,” Antoine said.

“Additionally, several manufacturers and conglomerates have been approached for the provision of required relief items.”

He said regional vessel and ground transport providers have been engaged for assistance.

Dr Rowley also offered to assist on behalf of TT.

“TT survived Beryl without too much bruising,” Rowley wrote on Facebook. He thanked Caricom colleagues who “reached out to commit assistance to the people of TT, even as the hurricane was bearing down on us,” and said, “We stand ready to offer support to Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines at this time as we pray, ‘There but for the grace of God go I.'”


Newsday spoke with TT nationals living in the affected islands.

Grenada resident Patricia Walcott said she felt she had prepared as best as possible, having experienced hurricanes Ivan (2004) and Emily (2005) – but was still shaken throughout the latest storm.

Forty-one people died in Grenada when Ivan hit in 2004.

“The wind is very strong and the eerie howling noises and other sounds heard can put one in panic,” she told Newsday from Tempe, a short distance from St George’s, over the phone minutes after noon. “I am monitoring my surroundings and in touch with friends.”

She said she lost power immediately after strong winds started.

“I live alone and although I blocked and padded my windows and doors, I keep monitoring, as the sounds, as I mentioned, sound threatening,” Walcott said. “The only sound is the rain and wind.”

Despite being worried, she said, “However, I am sending out a prayer to friends and relatives and trying to have equanimity of spirit and trying to walk by faith, not by sight.”

Walcott said her neighbours had all followed the instructions given by government and disaster agencies and that the island was “quite prepared, with the PM (Dickon Mitchell) at the helm.”

Strong winds increased throughout the morning, with Walcott saying she experienced the worst of it at 12.15 pm.

“Right now I’m holding my front door. Although blocked, it’s shaking as if one wants to break in,” she said.

But at 12.32 pm, she reported that the wind “suddenly died down.”

In Barbados, Steven Nahous, a TT-born Barbados resident living close to Worthing, in the south of the island, said the breeze had him “holding onto my balcony for dear life.”

He said cellphone reception had been spotty and he could not reach his family. He also said his area had lost power.

Eldonté Samuel, a newspaper reporter from St Vincent, said he saw fallen power lines and uprooted trees long before the winds reached maximum strength.

“Seas were rough and the wind was very strong, moving me a couple times,” he said.

St Vincent and the Grenadines’ National Emergency Management Organization (Nemo) said 50 homes reportedly lost roofs. Twelve other private and public structures also lost roofs. Another five structures faced other forms of damage and one house was flattened.

Four blocked roads were also reported.

Akeem Morales, president of the TT Students Association at the UWI Cave Hill campus in Barbados, said electricity had been cut since about 6.30 am and returned at 2.30 pm.

“At UWI, we had a generator that did its job, thankfully.”

Many fishing boats and properties on the south coast were destroyed or badly damaged.

BERYL’S RAGE: The destruction left by Hurricane Beryl, after it battered Carriacou on Monday, is seen in this photo posted in Unicef Eastern Caribbean’s Facebook page hours after the storm. – Photo courtesy Facebook