Hurricane Beryl Devastates Caribbean as Aid Groups Seek to Assuage Damage

The scene in Carriacou is one of devastation: houses flattened, debris scattered. Trees gone, vegetation scarce. Vibrant neighborhoods have been torn to shreds in the wake of Hurricane Beryl. 

Six people have died in the Category 5 storm and officials reported that about 98 percent of the buildings on the islands of Carriacou and Petite Martinique were damaged or destroyed, including Carriacou’s main health facility.

“Watching that storm become a hurricane was like watching a horror movie. It’s difficult to even describe the extent of psychological pain because you feel so helpless,” Rueanna Haynes, international climate law and governance specialist, told Ebony.

“You’re so helpless in that moment and Caribbean people, because of how close the islands are, find a situation where you prefer it to move on and avoid your island but in moving it usually means that it hits somebody else,” she added. 

Haynes, of Trinidad and Tobago, has family living in Jamaica, where the storm hit Wednesday. Thankfully, she said, her family is safe at the moment. 

Below is footage EBONY received from the hurricane touching down on Gravel Hill in Clarendon, Jamaica.

Haynes is among advocates and politicians calling on world leaders to recognize the effect the climate crisis has on small islands. 

Small Island Developing States (SIDS)—which are recognized by the United Nations as countries that are a special case for environment and development because of small population, size, open economies and exposure—are vulnerable to risk, said Haynes. 

She added that these countries have also been forced out of the global economic system, despite plantations having helped create the system. As a result, development efforts are constantly hindered. 

“When you have to redirect development funding constantly to recovery, it means that other things get left behind,” she explained. 

But as SIDS work to build their nations, their emissions count is significantly lower than the G20, which are responsible for nearly 80 percent of all global greenhouse gas emissions. 

Grenada‘s Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell hit on the point in a call for justice this week. 

“We demand and deserve climate justice,” said Mitchell at a press conference on Tuesday. “We are no longer prepared to accept that it is ok for us to constantly suffer significant loss and damage arising from climatic events and be expected to borrow and rebuild year after year while the countries that are responsible for creating the situation sit idly by with platitudes and tokenism.” 

“This hurricane has put the people of Carriacou and Petite Martinique light years behind and they are expected to pull themselves up by the bootstrap on their own,” Mitchell added. “This is not right, not fair and not just.”

Updated: July 5, 2024 — 3:02 pm