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Harrowing account of Beryl’s wrath as storm churns on

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Carolyn James, right, a Union Island native living in Bermuda, described the moment Hurricane Beryl tore through her brother’s home in St Vincent and the Grenadines. She is seen here with a family member and a friend at a function at Clifton Square on Union Island (Photograph supplied)

A Union Island native living in Bermuda has recalled the terrifying moment her family escaped with their lives after Hurricane Beryl tore apart their home.

Carolyn James, who moved to Bermuda 20 years ago and works with the Bermuda Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, said she spoke by phone with her brother on Tuesday, one day after the storm struck the small island of the multi-island state of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Carolyn James’s brother, Fitzgerald Hutchinson, and his wife, Monique, were caught up in Hurricane Beryl on Union Island in St Vincent and the Grenadines (Photograph supplied)

Her brother, Fitzgerald Hutchinson, described battening down with his wife, Monique, and eight-year-old twins during the deadly storm which has devastated parts of the Caribbean.

Miraculously, they escaped without injury.

Beryl, an unprecedentedly powerful storm for the Atlantic in June, has wreaked havoc, killing at least seven people in the southeastern Caribbean.

The family of Carolyn James in their Union Island home that was destroyed by Hurricane Beryl (Photograph supplied)

Ms James told The Royal Gazette: “He was in the house when the hurricane took it apart — it was very, very scary. He had two of his kids there with him at the time who are eight years old. They were not injured.

“It is a two-level house and they were upstairs, but once the roof started going off, they went down. However, the pressure was so immense, the windows were cracking and bucking, and the front door blew.

“They saw animals flying, a 40ft container flying like it had wings across the street where there were other houses, they saw houses being demolished.

“There was water everywhere, the kids were terrified but they remained safe and lived to tell the tale.”

Ms James said the small island, which has a population of approximately 3,000, including six immediate family members, had been mostly destroyed.

She said the power was out and communications towers down, with one hotspot on the island where everyone was flocking to contact loved ones.

She added: “It is just, wow … like a bomb exploded.

“I was born and grew up there; I am quite emotional. The thing is, the residents are in good spirits and are helping each other out.

“It’s the first hurricane there since 1955. They had no frame of reference. You sometimes hear the elders talk about Hurricane Janet.”

Ms James is planning to travel to the island on Monday and is trying to organise getting essential items shipped there.

These would include solar chargers, Wet Wipes, rope, tarpaulin, tents, mattresses, charcoal grills and generators.

Anyone wishing to assist can e-mail Ms James at ckejames@gmail.com.

Roslyn Bascombe-Adams, a physician working in the Emergency Department at King Edward VII Memorial Hospital, is part of a social group of Vincentians living in Bermuda and returned recently from a trip to St Vincent.

While she does not have any family members who have been badly affected on the mainland of St Vincent, she does know people who were caught up in the storm.

She said: “The islands in the southern Grenadines are the ones that are most severely affected. While I don’t have any immediate family, I know of several people who are affected or have family who were affected.

“There have been some injuries, mostly from flying debris, and there have been some hurricane-related deaths, but no one I know personally.

“We have been following it from the time the islands were put on alert. I just returned from there a week before the hurricane hit.

“Last Sunday, we were glued to the system watching the tracking. The forecast had the storm going more on to the mainland but as time went along it tracked further south and as a consequence it affected the southern Grenadines, Carriacou and Petite Martinique.”

The storm has claimed the lives of three people in St Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, three in Venezuela and one in Jamaica.

Shurnett Caines, one of the founding members of the Jamaican Association of Bermuda, an arm of the West Indian Association of Bermuda (File photograph)

Shurnett Caines, one of the founding members of the Jamaican Association of Bermuda, an arm of the West Indian Association of Bermuda, has some family in Jamaica but she said while they were without electricity, they had fared well.

“There was a lot of shrubbery and trees down but their houses are fine where they are in Portland.

“I have a sister and brother in Kingston but they are not affected much. The Westmoreland and Clarendon areas are affected badly. Some parts of it were damaged by big boulders rolling down the hills.”

The storm has hit Jamaica, Venezuela, Grenada and other Caribbean Islands.

While Beryl is not considered a threat to Bermuda, local warnings about the hurricane season were issued on Wednesday as the storm barrelled through the Caribbean.

As a Category 4 storm, Beryl swept along Jamaica's southern coast on Wednesday night, lashing it with heavy rain for 12 hours and leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without power.

Andrew Holness, the Prime Minister, told reporters that close to 500 Jamaicans were in shelters by Wednesday afternoon.

The Premier, David Burt, has offered a message of support to the island.

Beryl, which weakened to a Category 3 storm last night, was headed for Mexico after the Cayman Islands.

The National Hurricane Centre was tracking the storm across the northwestern Caribbean Sea.

The NHC predicted “strong winds, dangerous storm surge and damaging waves” on the coast of the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico by early today.

Updates are available through the NHC via its websitewww.nhc.noaa.gov

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Published July 05, 2024 at 7:59 am (Updated July 05, 2024 at 8:00 am)

Harrowing account of Beryl’s wrath as storm churns on

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