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Calgary’s Caribbean community pleads for support as Hurricane Beryl causes widespread damage


Members of Calgary's Caribbean community are desperately asking for support after Hurricane Beryl caused catastrophic damage in the island region.

The hurricane became the earliest category 5 storm on record, meaning winds reached speeds of more than 250 kilometres per hour, ripping off roofs in Jamaica, jumbling fish boats in Barbados and damaging or destroying 95 per cent of homes on a pair of islands in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

At least 10 people have died so far.

The death toll is expected to rise as communication networks come back online.

Kristal Ollivierre, vice-president of the Grenada Social and Cultural Association of Calgary, says the storm surprised many of her loved ones in the region.

"Instantly, you're just worried about everyone," she said.

"I have aunts and uncles, cousins and my grandmother there who has actually been stuck in her house because the house beside hers actually banked into her house.

"It's completely closing the entrance so she can't get out, but they are making a path to get her out right now."

Nigel Dabreo is worried about his mother, who lives in the region, following reports of downed trees and power lines.

He says the hospital in Carriacou is not operable and many are without running water, electricity and internet or network connections.

"So I was talking to my mom on Sunday night, she sent me a message the next morning wishing me a Happy Canada Day and then, by the time I responded, we were totally cut off," Dabreo said.

"There were a couple of days of radio silence. You don't hear anything, you don't know what's happening, you don't know if they're OK physically and you don't know what their property is like. So it is very unsettling to be in the dark that way, but I was quite relieved to know that it was OK."

Meanwhile, nearly 1,000 Jamaicans were in shelters by Wednesday evening following the storm, according to reports from the country's Prime Minister Andrew Holness.

David Pennant, president of the Jamaican Canadian Association of Alberta, says his family is OK, but the damage to agriculture has been devastating for farmers.

"It's so difficult, but we are resilient people. We've been through hurricanes and earthquakes and the one thing that is common in these times is that people come together," Pennant said.

"You see the love from the community. It's a big part and the neighbourly love is there, so to those back home right now, I say stay strong and know that help is on the way as soon as possible."

Emergency meeting and calls for donations

Friday evening, the Calgary Caribbean Leadership Council is meeting to discuss next steps in relief efforts and determine how Albertans can best help with donation efforts.

The meeting will be held at the Grenada Social and Cultural Association of Calgary (118 - 3208 8 Ave. N.E.).

Calgarians can contact the Jamaican Canadian Association of Alberta through its website ( and provide donations there.

More information on what items are needed can be found at

Larger humanitarian organizations are stepping up, including Samaritan's Purse Canada, which is offering support through its Disaster Assistance Response Team, along with more than 24 tons of life-saving supplies being sent to the Caribbean.

Monetary donations can be received through its website at

Other organizations like the Canadian Red Cross are actively working to raise funds to provide immediate relief. For more information, visit Top Stories

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