Newsmaker: Some partied during Beryl as others suffered serious damage

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

This week’s featured overall development as Newsmaker of the Week is the range of developments surrounding Hurricane Beryl, especially a viral video of persons dancing during the powerful weather system on East Queen Street in downtown Kingston on Wednesday afternoon.

Amid residents finding joy in the severity of the weather system, other Jamaicans were left petrified as the category four hurricane skirted Jamaica’s south east, leaving many homes, especially roofs, damaged.

There were also terrifying scenes for many who shared their experiences days after the hurricane, which left at least two persons dead from situations relative to the hurricane on Wednesday.

They are 26-year-old Kayon Sterling, who was killed on Wednesday evening when a tree limb fell on her outside her house in Green Island, Hanover; and 26-year-old Alrick Moncrieffe, alias ‘Kalonji’, who was swept away by floodwaters in the Trench Town gully while trying to retrieve a football.

 Up to Saturday, Moncrieffe’s body had not been located, but the football was found behind debris in the vicinity of the May Pen Cemetery on Thursday as residents continued to search for their Arnett Gardens, St Andrew community member.

The gully which, with then raging floodwaters, swept away 26-year-old Alrick Moncrieffe, alias ‘Kalonji’ (in insert), in the Trench Town area of South St Andrew after he tried to retrieve a football during a soccer game in the community amid the passage of Hurricane Beryl on Wednesday of last week.

Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sports, Olivia Grange, expressed condolences to the families of the deceased on behalf of the Government, which has pledged to support the grieving families.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness, in one of his assessments of the damages, said Jamaica was spared the worst of Hurricane Beryl.

On Thursday, the day after the storm, Holness conducted an assessment of the damage in an aerial and ground tour of the significantly impacted parishes.

He stated that in Great Bay and the general Treasure Beach area of St Elizabeth, he counted about 100 homes that suffered roof damage.

Damaged sustained in a community in South East Clarendon during the passage of Hurricane Beryl.

Further, he said although the Government is awaiting a comprehensive post-hurricane analysis, the initial assessment suggests that the nation’s readiness measures have paid off.

“My sense is that generally our systems worked, and I can make that statement even without the objective analysis being done as yet,” declared Holness.

Aside from St Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon have been described as being worst hit by the storm.

For many Jamaicans now, the need for electrical supply is of urgent need. So, too, is the need for public water supplies.

The utilities and the respective telecommunications companies have promised to work speedily to bring as much Jamaicans back to having their light, water and cell phone access restored.

Still, Jamaicans remain frustrated and impatient while they wait for a return to normalcy.

Farmers are also reeling from the hurricane, as much of their produce and livestock were destroyed from the high winds and heavy rains associated with the weather event.

Agriculture, Fisheries and Mining Minister, Floyd Green, told reporters on Thursday that the sector, particularly in south and central parishes, “especially… St Elizabeth, Manchester and Clarendon, recorded extensive damage to all types of crops and livestock.”

Hurricane damage being examined at a banana farm in St Mary.

Added Green: “Our chicken farmers suffered a lot of losses to their chicken houses and birds.

“Additionally, our banana and plantain farmers seem to have been extremely hard hit right across the parishes. Also, (there are) some reports from our vegetable farmers coming out of the parish of St Ann.”

Before all those developments, while many Jamaicans were at home adhering to an island-wide curfew as they longed to be free from Beryl’s wrath on Wednesday, they got a big surprise when they saw their fellow countrymen and women having a grand time in the downpour along East Queen Street in downtown Kingston.

In fact, a man and a woman were seen gyrating on, of all places, a police service vehicle.

Other women danced on the sides of the road with their male dance partners, or on other vehicles as the latest dancehall songs echoed from music systems.

For some Jamaicans, the acts were considered insensitive to persons who lost or would lose their roofs or homes during the hurricane. But other persons branded the hurricane festivities as a form of coping mechanism for some residents.

“Imagine we in other countries a worry about them and watch them. Nothing them nuh take serious, smh,” a woman wrote on Facebook.

“I can’t stand this behaviour when people have lost their lives and homes,” commented another woman.

“All when God spare we the worst, this is how they give him thanks,” a female Facebook user suggested.

Asked a man: “Jamaica is not a normal place, and by the way… isn’t there supposed to be a curfew on? Where are the police when you need them?…. Can they please go save those people from themselves?”

However, a man expressed a deferring view on the development.

“People, everyone cope with situations differently. I don’t see any reason for these comments. Let people have fun how they see fit as long as they are not hurting anybody,” he stated.

In response, a woman said: “I agree, because we are Jamaicans, and we are going to always find the humour in a bad situation.”

Despite those viewpoints, a woman argued that, “Police need to lock up these careless people and throw away the keys.”

A man opined that, “I understand that people want to have fun and enjoy themselves, but this is just insensitive behaviour towards the thousands who suffered damages because of Beryl.

“We should be going down on our knees and be thankful the category 4 hurricane never lick we little country,” he argued.