Hurricane Beryl kills 2 in Jamaica and cuts path of destruction as Mexico braces for impact

Hurricane Beryl left a path of destruction in southern Jamaica on Thursday toward the Cayman Islands and Mexico, killing at least two people in the island nation, downing power lines and leaving hundreds homeless and in shelters.

The Jamaican Constabulary told NBC News that one man and one woman died as a result of the storm in the last 24 hours. A 26-year-old man was swept away by flash floods in the capital Kingston on Wednesday evening.

“He was playing football with friends at the mini stadium when the ball went out and he tried to retrieve it,” police said. A search is on for one more person who was swept away by the flood.

This brings the total number of deaths this week as a result of beryl in the Caribbean to nine.

The storm was downgraded to a Category 2 with winds of 110 mph and has moved away from the Caymans area, with a hurricane warning canceled Thursday as Beryl moved west.

Strong winds, storm surges, damaging waves, 4 to 6 inches of rain and flooding are all expected beginning Thursday night in the Caymans and parts of Mexico and Belize.

Some communities on Mexico’s Caribbean coast were evacuated, too Sea turtle eggs were moved from the beaches before the storm surge destroys them. A hurricane warning was issued for the country’s Yucatan Peninsula along the coast from Cancun to Costa Maya.

Mexican Navy officials told people in tourist areas, in Spanish and English, to prepare for the storm’s arrival.

Jamaica’s cyclone warning was lifted, but a flood warning remained in place until 5am as heavy rain continued after the storm passed.

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“It’s terrible. Everything’s gone. I’m in my house, scared,” Amoy Wellington, a 51-year-old cashier who lives in Top Hill, a rural farming community in southern St. Elizabeth Parish, told Reuters. “It’s a disaster.”

Honeymooners Casey and Warner Haley of Knoxville, Tennessee, told NBC News they were told to hole up at their Montego Bay resort after their wedding on Saturday.

“The weather was perfect yesterday morning. We went snorkeling, we went kayaking, and by the time we got back, the forecast had changed,” Casey, 23, said in a phone interview Wednesday.

The couple said they immediately contacted their travel agent, but no flights were available. They were told the same at the airport.

Workers salvage pieces of tin fencing as Hurricane Beryl passed through Kingston, Jamaica on Wednesday. Joe Radle/Getty Images

“It’s really a doomsday-type scenario,” Casey said. “We went to all the flight counters and said, ‘Hey can you get us anywhere, especially in the US, but really anywhere?’ They all said, ‘No, we’re all booked.’

Beryl is expected to reach Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula on Friday before moving into the Gulf of Mexico early Saturday morning. It’s unclear what effect it will have on the Texas Gulf Coast, with people along the coast urged to be “weather aware” over the holiday weekend.

The National Hurricane Center warned Thursday that the storm will restrengthen over the warm waters of the Gulf and reach hurricane strength or near the U.S.

As Beryl nears the western Gulf Coast, nearly all model guidance shows the system near hurricane strength, the official forecast said early Thursday.

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The center added that regardless of the hurricane’s path, rip currents could cause “life-threatening coastal conditions” from late Friday and throughout the Gulf Coast through the weekend.

The devastation was massive across some of the smaller islands of the Caribbean. Michelle Forbes, director of the National Emergency Management Agency in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, said 95% of homes in Marijuana and the Union Islands were damaged or destroyed.

St. Vincent’s Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said in a radio interview Wednesday that rebuilding Union Island will require “a lot of effort.”

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