Category 4 Hurricane Beryl Devastates Jamaica, Heads Toward Mexico

Category 4 Hurricane Beryl Devastates Jamaica, Heads Toward Mexico

Relief efforts began Wednesday in New York City’s Caribbean community, as residents anxiously followed the path of Hurricane Beryl.

The storm has already claimed at least seven lives in the southeastern Caribbean, leaving thousands without power. By Wednesday afternoon, Beryl had weakened from a Category 5 hurricane to a Category 4 hurricane, coasting just south of Jamaica and unleashing destructive winds and heavy rains on the island.

In Brooklyn’s Little Caribbean neighborhood, those with ties to Jamaica have been closely monitoring the storm’s progress. Nadine Ducille, chef at Caribbean Vibes Jamaican Restaurant and Bakery on Nostrand Avenue, said she’s been checking in with her family every two hours.

“My family is doing well so far; they’re prepared,” said Ducille, 50. “They’re just waiting to see what happens.”

Nearby, Grace Clark, an employee at Mozeal Botanica, a store that sells religious items and candles, advised her children in Portland Parish, Jamaica, to make sure they have plenty of clean water and to keep their cell phones fully charged in case of a power outage.

“I get down on my knees and pray for alliances to be created between people,” said Clark, also in his 50s.

Eugene Pursoo, president of the nonprofit Caribbean Diaspora United and a Grenadian, shared his concerns. Grenada has been hit hard by Beryl, and Pursoo said a relative of his brother’s wife died when the storm prevented him from traveling to the United States for emergency surgery.

Pursoo, who previously served as Grenada’s representative to the United Nations, expressed concerns about Beryl’s long-term impact on the island’s agriculture and economy.

“It’s sad because we’re dealing with fragile economies and we don’t usually have the money to recover,” he said. “I know how stressed families are when these things happen.”

Having lived through Hurricane Janet, which devastated Grenada in 1955, Pursoo noted the resilience of the Caribbean community in the face of such disasters.

“What I love about the Caribbean and our people is that when a strike like this happens, we close ranks,” he said.

Leonie Ward, secretary of Lenox Road Baptist Church in Little Caribbean, reflected on past storms, such as Hurricane Gilbert and Hurricane Ivan, emphasizing the community’s experience with extreme weather.

“I can’t say we’re used to it, but we’ve had major hurricanes before,” Ward said. “We know what can happen.”

Dr. Trevor Dixon, founder of the JAHJAH Foundation, a nonprofit that provides medical care in Jamaica, was born on the island and returned to help after Hurricane Ivan in 2004. He described feeling “exhausted and anxious” as he monitored Beryl after a night shift at Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx.

“I worked last night, but I’m still here, ready to go,” Dixon said. “I can’t sleep much because you’re nervous.”

Dixon had planned to fly to Jamaica with other volunteers early next week, concerned about potential health problems caused by stagnant water and a proliferation of mosquitoes.

On Wednesday morning, Pursoo began coordinating relief efforts, reaching out to leaders in New York’s Caribbean community. His biggest challenge was finding a venue large enough to accommodate the 400 to 500 people he expected to meet.

“We are a people who have always responded to the needs of our families and friends back home,” Pursoo said. “Whenever natural disasters strike, we are very willing to give whatever we can.”