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Hurricane Beryl has left a trail of destruction along Jamaica’s southern coast

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Hurricane Beryl has left behind a trail of destruction along Jamaica's southern coast. The Hurricane broke records as the earliest Category 5 storm in the Atlantic, but it is now weaker as it heads towards Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

In Jamaica, as the curfew lifted this morning, the cleanup began. And to talk about how that's going, we're joined now by journalist Nick Davis in the capital, Kingston. Welcome.

NICK DAVIS: Thank you, Ailsa.

CHANG: So what is the scale of the damage there right now?

(SOUNDBITE OF GENERATORS RUNNING)

DAVIS: I mean, here in Kingston, it was a rough night. We had a little break in the storm just before nightfall, to be able to see some of the damage before the wind and the rain came down again. But we were, I'm going to say, thankfully spared in the city itself. Some of the low-lying areas to the east and to the west, not so much - they got huge amounts of storm surge. Even the area very close to the airport, Port Royal, was inundated. Real problems in some of those communities - but as you say, the storm - it really battered the south coast of the island. It sort of tracked literally along the south coast.

And those areas are different to the city, you know? It's significantly more rural. It's agricultural region - and so there's less buildings, just a large expanse of space for a storm to really build up speed and just whip around and destroy pretty much anything in its path, especially as you go along the sort of southern coast towards Treasure Beach, a beautiful part of the island.

CHANG: Well, in those areas that you're speaking of right now, what is electricity and running water looking like for that part of the island? I know that you have power inside the city, but what about them?

DAVIS: Actually, Ailsa, a large proportion of us on the island still don't. You may be able to hear a drone - a sort of consistent noise in the background.

CHANG: Yes.

DAVIS: That's the sound of generators, which are running nonstop, 24/7, at the moment, even in the city. About three-quarters of the island is still without power.

CHANG: I see.

DAVIS: And so I don't have power here. I'm literally plugged in to my computer to make sure that I've got enough power to be able to keep this conversation going.

CHANG: Oh, you do?

DAVIS: But the reality is that it's going to take days, even weeks, possibly, to be able to get parts of this country back on its feet. The immediate concern for the authorities is to be able to get power to essential services, to make sure that water services are up and able to be pumping, to make sure telecommunications are working. But, you know, people like myself - residential - the big cities will probably get power - Montego Bay and Kingston - first. But in the rural communities, it's going to take a while.

CHANG: Well, we are only at the beginning of hurricane season, and already, we're talking about storms of historic proportions. How do islands like Jamaica even prepare for the scale of storms in the future, you think?

DAVIS: We - you know, we - as a child of Jamaican migrants, it's been wonderful to me to return home. But I've heard about these storms - Charley, Allen, Gilbert - you know, from a child. We're aware of all of this. But even so, even though you have disaster preparedness, these things still come with unexpected surprises. And that's what we're really trying to deal with, grapple with, every year, every month because this is only the start of the season, and it runs through until - what? - October, November.

CHANG: That is Nick Davis in Kingston, Jamaica. Thank you so much for joining us today, Nick.

DAVIS: Thank you so much. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Nick Davis
Vincent Acovino
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Patrick Jarenwattananon
[Copyright 2024 NPR]
Ailsa Chang
Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
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