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By Kenton X. Chance

Reports from across St. Vincent and the Grenadines today (Monday) indicate that many buildings, including at least one that was being used as an emergency shelter, suffered damage to their roofs as Hurricane Beryl, a powerful category 4 storm, tracked across the country.

“We have lost many roofs in the constituency of South Central Windward,” MP for the constituency, Saboto Caesar told iWitness News via telephone Monday afternoon.

“It’s across homes, public buildings and churches,” Caesar said, adding that the road was impassible in several areas.

“… everyone is inside and I am admonishing everyone to stay inside and ensure their safety,” he said, adding that while people had moved into shelters, he could not say how many.

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“… but people were trickling overnight,” Caesar told iWitness News.

In Petit Bordel on the northwest coast of St. Vincent, Roland “Patel” Matthews, a former MP for North Leeward, said he could not say what impact the storm was having on the rest of the district amidst challenges making telephone contact with other villages.

“Where I am stationed, at the moment, I know several persons have lost parts of their roofs, some have lost a few sheets of galvanise,” he said, referring to the zinc sheeting on the roofs of buildings.

The rain continues. The rain is blowing but it stops and starts every now and again, but most people, I think, are ok.”

Matthews said several people had moved into emergency shelters.

“I don’t have the number at the moment,” he said, adding that people began to move into the Petit Bordel Secondary School when emergency shelters opened Sunday evening.

Matthews said he could confirm that five houses had been damaged, but noted that this was what he could see from his home.
“Several trees have fallen to the ground as well. From my vantage point, I can see on the beach some trees have fallen,” he said, adding that a large almond tree on the beach had toppled over.

“I’ve been trying to call around to get an assessment myself. The other areas, I am not sure because I have been trying to get in touch with people from Fitz Hughes…”

He said that “very strange, the sea in Petit Bordel is as calm as a pond.

“Just now, I took a video of it and sent it to someone and the person was amazed. I find it strange because this thing is blowing winds all over the place and the sea remains as calm as ever,” Matthews said, speaking from the Caribbean coast of St. Vincent.

Ovid Burke, a resident of Vermont, said he could not see very far from his home in the interior community.

“But some roofs are partially off from what I can see; fallen trees,” he said, adding that the wind was picking up again.

“It was very, very strong like between 10 and 11. It died down for a while and now it is picking up again,” Burke said around 2 p.m.

Meanwhile Fitz Bramble, MP for East Kingstown, told iWitness News that he was standing at his back door Monday morning when he saw the roof of Bishop’s College, a secondary school in downtown Kingstown, “lift up and peel off like a banana.

“It is crazy,” Bramble said, adding that he and his family had been spared.

“We haven’t had any damage here except a couple of tree branches broke off,” he said, noting that he was weathering the storm along with his mother, and his son, who was visiting from Canada.

Bramble said he had gotten calls from several people and had received updates from members of his team.

“Many roofs in Sion Hill Village, Roseau, Walvaroo, Mala Village have gone,” he said, adding that he was yet to receive reports from Rockies and Murray’s Village. He said he had received one report of a man being injured.

“Apparently, his roof came off and I was told he was hit in head or something like that. It doesn’t seem to be that serious because somebody called me and asked me for the neighbour’s number to see if they could take him to the neighbour’s house.

Reports out of North Windward indicate that several houses and other buildings in Owia had lost their roof.

iWitness News was reliably informed that the roof blew off a section of the primary school Owia, which was housing evacuees.

Other homes and business places in the community suffered damage, three years after many roofs their caved in when La Soufriere erupted.

Much of St. Vincent and the Grenadines was without electricity from around 11 a.m. Monday.

The state-owned power company, VINLEC, had announced on Sunday that it might shut down the power supply during the passage of the storm.

Official information about the storm has become a challenge as the lack of power has also affected fixed internet supply and mobile data is loading very slowly.

Further, the state-owned National Broadcasting Corporation was unable to broadcast online because of the internet problems and it appeared that its free-to-air signal had been hampered in some parts of the country.

Other radio stations seemed to have been knocked off air.

In a post on Facebook earlier on Monday, the National Emergency Management Agency said it was only reachable by WhatsApp.