icon icon icon icon icon icon icon

The latest on Hurricane Beryl and how you can help

Shermaine Baptiste, left, and a friend look into her destroyed bedroom after it was hit by Hurricane Beryl in Clifton, Union Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Thursday, July 4, 2024. Photo: AP Photo/Lucanus Ollivierre)

Shermaine Baptiste, left, and a friend look into her destroyed bedroom after it was hit by Hurricane Beryl in Clifton, Union Island, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Thursday, July 4, 2024. Photo: AP Photo/Lucanus Ollivierre)

Owen Isaacs is the only police officer on Mayreau, the smallest inhabited island in the Grenadines. As Hurricane Beryl tore through the Caribbean this week, he has been working to first assess the damage on the half-square mile island, then to find out how to fix it.

“There were thirty-two small wood houses,” he says. “All gone.”

Beryl – the strongest hurricane to ever form in the Atlantic in the month of June – made landfall in Grenada on July 1.

After devastating communities across the southern Caribbean, the climate-fueled hurricane hit Jamaica and the nearby islands, peaking as a Category 5 hurricane earlier this week.

The Roman Catholic Church & its attached Mayreau Community Center, built around 1930, was one of the oldest and most culturally significant buildings on the island.

Before Beryl. The center was one of the emergency shelters for the island where 50 people were taking refuge.
After Beryl hit the church was destroyed. All survived. Photos: Aly Ollivierre

On Tuesday, Tism*, a 48-year-old woman on St. Vincent who is working with CARE partner Helen’s Daughters to help those in need, sat listening to the sounds of the night after a long day of trying to track the hurricane’s damage.

“I can hear the insects chirping, the gentle rustle of the breeze through the leaves,” she says.

It was a relatively peaceful moment, but just a few hours before during the storm’s height, Tism had stood watching a fifty-foot coconut tree near her house dip and bend in the 150 mph winds.

“I am sad with all that I see, that I hear,” she says. “The devastation, the helplessness, the hopelessness, the frustration of those in need. Sometimes not being in the know is a blessing. How we are going to dig ourselves out of this hole Beryl dumped us into?”

Hurricane Beryl Makes Landfall

On tiny, remote Mayreau in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the work for basic necessities is an hour-by-hour struggle, requiring ingenuity and creativity.

Officer Issacs says one man has a Starlink internet connection and is coordinating emergency relief efforts with another team with Starlink on the nearby, larger Union Island.

The Union Island team has gotten assistance from, among others, the French military, and a large naval vessel with emergency supplies that will hopefully arrive on Mayreau this week.

“Urgent needs?” Issacs says. “Food, water, many more tarps for temporary roof covers until we rebuild.”

The list goes on from there. They also need “flashlights, toilet paper, blankets, mattresses, cooking gas, soap, shampoo, raincoats.”

A view of damage of Barbados Oistins Fish Market after the Category 4 Hurricane Beryl damage in Christ Church, Barbados. Photo: JLN Photography/Shutterstock

CARE and Caribbean Gender Alliance – an alliance of civil society organizations across the region serving all Caribbean people with an emphasis on marginalized groups – are coordinating with local partners to assess the humanitarian impact of the storm and support the most vulnerable, especially women and girls.

Issacs says this is particularly important, because they also need, “Pampers for fourteen babies and sanitary pads for three hundred sixty people.”

As part of a collective response to Beryl, CARE, Caribbean Gender Alliance, and regional partners are prioritizing cash assistance to help the families Issacs and Tism are working with to meet their essential needs.

The impact of Hurricane Beryl in Jamaica. Photo: Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers

Despite her exhaustion, Tism is going to work on the recovery as soon as she can.

“I’m going to check on family, clean up the debris around the yard,” she says. “Take care of myself and look out for my family ‘s physical and mental wellbeing and try to help those of my friends.

“Get rest. Try to help those in need to get the necessary assistance.”

Across 10 countries in the Caribbean, including Jamaica, Grenada, and St. Vincent, and the Grenadines, CARE is working through the Caribbean Humanitarian Partnership Platform to bring lifesaving aid to the communities hit by Beryl.

In Grenada, CARE is working with the Caribbean Association for Youth Development, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines with Helen’s Daughters, and in Jamaica with the Jamaica Network of Rural Women Producers, among others.

Back to Top