Caribbean churches mobilize relief as 'monster' Hurricane Beryl smashes through the islands

By Chris Eyte |
Hurricane Beryl spins offshore on July 03, 2024, in Kingston, Jamaica
A person stands in the wind and rain as waves crash ashore as Hurricane Beryl spins offshore on July 03, 2024, in Kingston, Jamaica. Category 4 storm Beryl has caused widespread damage in several island nations as it continues to cross the Caribbean. | Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Evangelical Christians are mobilizing efforts to help people as the powerful hurricane Beryl pours its wrath across the Caribbean islands. At the time of publication, the category five "monster storm", now downgraded to a still impressive category four, was heading to the southern coastline of Jamaica from east to west, with thunderous rain and blustering wind due eastern St Thomas. 

The Cayman Islands is also on the firing line after the tempest caused widespread damage on other islands across the region.

The Yucatan Peninsula, on the east coast of Mexico, has also received a hurricane watch warning, according to reports, and tropical storm winds are anticipated further south in Belize City, Belize.

Official figures initially reported seven known dead so far, with three people killed in Grenada, three in Venezuela and one person in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. 

Christian Daily International has received first-hand reports from evangelical leaders in the regions and the churches' response to support those affected by the storm. 

Canouan, Union Island and Myreau, part of St. Vincent, have been totally decimated and residents evacuated to mainland St. Vincent. The hurricane’s center also crossed over the small island of Carriacou, which forms part of Grenada with an estimated 150 mph wind. 

Destruction on Union Island after Hurricane Beryl
Destruction on Union Island after Hurricane Beryl | Photo received from the EAC

“We have reports of extensive storm surge, reports of extensive loss of roofs and damage to buildings and there is no electricity on any of the islands and communication is also difficult,”  Prime Minister Dickson Mitchell of St. George’s-Grenada told the Nation newspaper in Barbados on Tuesday. 

Rev. Emerson Boyce, Secretary General of the Evangelical Association of the Caribbean (EAC), knew of two lives lost so far, among the 10,000 residents. “Such fury caused a total wreck in about 30 minutes,” he told Christian Daily International, adding: “Help is on the way.”

Grenada itself has also suffered significant damage, according to Boyce. 

“Details are a bit sketchy due to electricity failure – no internet connection, I am experiencing problems connecting with leaders and friends.” 

Boyce expressed “deep concern” at the effect of the hurricane over the Caribbean islands. 

“Through EAC’s National Alliances, I am mobilizing relief supplies for urgent dispatch to support the islands affected by Beryl. Also, in partnership with CREW [weather warning system], the Disaster Preparedness non-governmental organization (NGO) of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the West Indies is ready to respond to our neighbors.”

Evangelicals mobilize help for neighbors as colossus Hurricane Beryl smashes through the islands of the Caribbean
Hurricane Beryl has caused widespread damage in the Caribbean and evangelicals are helping to mobilise support for those affected | Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States

Barbados escaped the worst of the hurricane, which passed about 90 miles south of the island. Even so, Barbados still suffered from tropical storm force winds. 

“The Fisheries Complex at Oistins has been destroyed, some 10 fishing vessels sunk, the jetty housing the fuel seriously damaged and the Port suffering a minor blow,” said Boyce. “The hurricane devastated the fishing industry, crucial to the island’s food security, and caused coastal damage.

The destruction of boats is a concern for the local fishing industry after Hurricane Beryl.
The destruction of boats is a concern for the local fishing industry. | Photo received from the EAC

“Several fishing vessels were either destroyed or sustained serious damage. To date, I have not heard of lives being lost. A damage assessment has begun and will probably take several days before that assessment is properly computed.”

The Rev. Gerald Seale who lives in Christchurch, Barbados, also said the island with a population of 281,000 was spared the worst of the hurricane. Even so, Barbados suffered tropical storm force winds and he confirmed that government officials were assessing damage caused by the storm. 

“It will probably be several days before that assessment is properly quantified,” Seale told Christian Daily International. “Our churches are continuously helping members and non-members with groceries, paying utility bills for seniors, etc. This will be continued and ramped [up] where needed and possible.”

Seale also confirmed the reports of damage to some of the other islands in the wake of the storm. 

“The tiny island of Carriacou just off Grenada had the center of Beryl cross the island carrying 150 mph sustained winds. It is expected that there will be catastrophic damage there. I’m hearing there is significant damage in both Grenada and St. Vincent but I have no details at this time. Connecting with friends in these two islands is still very problematic.”

Grenada with a population of 127,000 people has only suffered a major hurricane once before in 2004, according to St. George’s University on the island.