Hurricane Beryl has wreaked devastation across northern Grenadian islands and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Besides the destruction on land, hundreds of yachts have been damaged, some sunk.

Hurricane Beryl has wreaked devastation across northern Grenadian islands and St Vincent and the Grenadines, with four deaths reported.

Hurricane Beryl became the earliest recorded storm to develop into a Category 5 hurricane yesterday, Tuesday 2 July, peaking with sustained winds of 165 mph (270 kph) before weakening slightly to a violently destructive Category 4.

US military research aircraft that flew through the eye of the hurricane on recon flights recorded winds of 182mph.

The worst hit areas so far seem to be the Grenadian islands of Carriacou and Petit Martinque, which were devastated when Beryl made landfall on July 1 with winds of 150mph. The islands took what the US National Hurricane Center described as a direct hit of Beryl’s “extremely dangerous eyewall”.

“In half an hour, Carriacou was flattened,” reported Grenada Prime Minister Dickon Mitchell.

Almost every building on the islands appears to have been hit, with officials reporting that 98% of the buildings on the islands, including homes for 6,000 people, have been damaged or destroyed. Carriacou’s Princess Royal Hospital, airport and marinas have also been severely impacted. Vegetation was stripped from the hillsides and crops wiped out.

The marine infrastructure has been severely hit. Drone footage flown over the disaster zone shows yachts severely damaged in Tyrell Bay and across both islands, affecting yachts on the hard and the many vessels that sought shelter in mangrove anchorages at the northern end of Tyrell Bay, known as Carnash or the oyster beds.

Images shared on Facebook by Pierrick Quédinet show the devastation in Carriacou, Grenada after Hurricane Beryl.

Union Island in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has also been severely hit. SVG Prime Minister, Ralph Gonsalves, said that Beryl had “left in its wake immense destruction”.

On Union Island, which has around 3,000 inhabitants, he said: “The reports that I have received indicate that 90% of the houses have been severely damaged or destroyed.”

It’s not yet been possible to ascertain how badly some of the smaller islands in SVG have been impacted, as communicatons in the area are severely limited. Mobile phone towers have also been blown down or severely damaged, so Starlink has become a key method of sharing images of the devastation.

Hundreds of yachts have suffered damage ranging from being beached, dismasted, tipped over on the hard, with some sunk and multihulls capsized. Many local fishing vessels and ferries have also been driven ashore, sunk or severely damaged.

John Cangialosi, Senior Hurricane Specialist at the US National Hurricane Center in Miami, inspects a satellite image of Hurricane Beryl. On Monday 1 July, 2024, the storm became the strongest hurricane this early in the season in this area of the Atlantic. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Cruisers help victims of Hurricane Beryl

In addition to the efforts of local authorities, many volunteer groups have been raising funds and supplies for Grenada and the affected communities. Chris Doyle of Doyle Guides has compiled a list of relief efforts and fundraising platforms (these are unverified, anyone considering donating should use their own judgement).

Cruisers in the area are also forming their own relief efforts, including sailing to islands such as Mayreau. A small flotilla of catamarans is expected to depart Trinidad with supplies for the region today: up to 300 yachts are thought to have evacuated south from SVG and Grenada to Trinidad as Beryl intensified last weekend.

Steven Fairbrother, owner of a charter tour operator in St Vincent and the Grenadines, told the Trinidad and Tobago Guardian: “What we’re looking to try and do now is build up a stockpile of supplies, first aid equipment, generators, anything that we can get hold of that’s going to be useful back up in Canouan, and load the boats up with as much as possible for when we head back up north.

“The information we’re getting is that there are boats that have broken moorings and are drifting out to sea. We’ve got people without power, without communications, without first aid and food supplies, so we’re looking to get as much of what they need.”

Clarkes Court boatyard in Grenada reported no serious damage following Hurricane Beryl. Photo Clarkes Court via Facebook

Fortunately southern Grenada, which is usually considered below the hurricane belt, was less affected and many of the yachts which remained in the south of the island were unscathed. Clarkes Court Boatyard in St George’s reported: “Preliminary assessment reveals that there has been no significant damage sustained by vessels at the docks or in the boatyard during the passage of Hurricane Beryl.”

Hurricane Beryl is currently tracking towards Jamaica. We’ll update more news as we have it.