Hurricane Beryl leaves some Caribbean islands  almost 'totally devastated'

Hurricane Beryl leaves some Caribbean islands  almost 'totally devastated'

A more complete picture of the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Beryl as it passed through the Leeward Islands emerged Wednesday. It reveals destruction and at least seven deaths.

The Caribbean Disaster and Emergency Management Agency reported Wednesday that more than 90 percent of homes and buildings were destroyed or severely damaged on at least three islands. All three are in the Grenadines, and Beryl entered the Caribbean Sea between St. Vincent and Grenada, at the southern tip of the Leeward Islands.

With 19 countries across the Caribbean participating,
the agency helped coordinate disaster relief efforts in Grenada and St. Vincent and the Grenadines while continuing to track Beryl's movement across Jamaica, the Cayman Islands and Belize. The "Eye of Beryl," still a Category 4 storm, was expected to graze off the coast of Jamaica on Wednesday afternoon, pass near the Cayman Islands on Thursday morning and make landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula on Friday morning. Elizabeth Riley, executive director of the Emergency Management Agency, said damage estimates for the Windward Islands, where Beryl made landfall via Carriacou, were only "very preliminary." On Monday, Beryl pounded the islands with sustained winds of 150 mph and stronger gusts, with the National Hurricane Center warning that winds could be up to 30% stronger on hills and mountain tops.

Riley said the impacts on the Grenadines were "extremely significant," leaving residents unprotected and vulnerable. Despite rescue efforts beginning, a tropical wave brought rain and strong winds on Wednesday, causing damage to distressed residents.

Grenada's Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell described the "total destruction" of Carriacou and Petite Martinique at a news conference late Tuesday after spending more than two hours in a helicopter provided by the St. Lucia government. "Nothing can prepare you for this level of destruction," Mitchell said. "It's like Armageddon, almost total destruction of every building. Total devastation and destruction of agriculture. Complete and utter destruction of the natural environment."

"There is literally no vegetation left on Carriacou. The mangroves are completely destroyed, boats and marinas are heavily damaged," he said. "The power grid in Carriacou is almost completely destroyed. The entire communications system has been completely destroyed.”

But Mitchell added that he was heartened by the “true Grenadian spirit” of volunteers who travelled in boats and fishing vessels from other, less affected areas to deliver aid to those affected.