Hurricane Beryl underscores need for robust early warning systems — Global Issues

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Beryl is the strongest hurricane formed in the Atlantic Ocean in June and quickly evolved from a tropical depression to a Category 4 storm, briefly reaching Category 5 strength with winds of up to 240 km/h (150 mph).

The hurricane made landfall in Texas as a Category 1 storm early Monday morning, posing a dangerous storm surge and the risk of flash flooding.

According to the UN World Meteorological Organization, the wind is expected to weaken rapidly as it moves further inland (WMO) specialized regional center in Miami, which is managed by the U.S. National Hurricane Center (NHC).

Extra vigilance required

WMO also warned of a very intense hurricane season, with up to 25 named storms expected through November. These include: eight to thirteen can develop into hurricanes.

We need to be extra vigilant this year “The near-record ocean heat in the Atlantic hurricane formation region and the shift to La Niña conditions are creating conditions for increased storm formation,” said WMO Deputy Secretary-General Ko Barrett.

“That is why the WMO and its partners have priority early warning action on small islands under the international Early Warning Initiative for All.”

‘Sobering image’ in Jamaica

As access improves, the full impacts of Hurricane Beryl become clear.

UN humanitarian teams in Jamaica, where the hurricane made landfall at 5:00 p.m. on July 3, report a ‘sobering image’ by widespread damage and destruction.”

More than 250 roads, along with critical infrastructure, have been badly damaged by fallen trees, flooding and storm surges, with many homes losing their roofs, a humanitarian bulletin issued Sunday said.

“(A UN team) visited Old Harbor Bay, Portland Cottage, Rocky Point, Alligator Pond and Treasure Beach. They saw many families in need of water, food, cleaning and rebuilding supplies for their homes, as well as psychological support.”

It is estimated that around 160,000 people, including 37,000 children, are in need of humanitarian assistance.

Devastation from Hurricane Beryl on Carriacou Island in Grenada.

© WFP/Jean Paul Laveau

Devastation from Hurricane Beryl on Carriacou Island in Grenada.

‘Significant destruction’

In the eastern Caribbean, where Hurricane Beryl first made landfall on July 1, islands are reported “serious damage” and “significant destruction.”

“Exact numbers remain challenging as assessments are still ongoing amid damage to logistics, electricity and communications services, and power outages,” the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) according to a bulletin also issued on Sunday.

Damage to small airstrips and reliance on smaller boats hamper logistical efforts, complicating the assessment and delivery of relief supplies.

In Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique, as well as the northern areas, are hardest hit. There are limited public transport links between Carriacou and the mainland.

Union Island in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has also been hit hard. Authorities are rehousing vulnerable people in tourist facilities and conducting assessments. An unknown number of people have been evacuated from the island.

UN responds quickly

In the meantime, UN teams are support to national and regional authorities in ongoing assessment and assistance missions.

Specialised UNDAC (Union Disaster Assessment and Coordination) teams have also been deployed to Grenada and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to support emergency services.

In Jamaica, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has finalized its response plan and submitted funding requests to key humanitarian donors to meet the immediate needs of children and affected families. The agency is also working with other agencies under the leadership of the UN Humanitarian Coordinator to prepare a joint appeal to raise emergency funds.

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