We want to think our prayers tamed Beryl before she hit us. But she left harsh reminders when she slammed St. Elizabeth and Manchester, crippling Jamaica’s breadbasket. The world-famous Treasure Beach took a good licking and the American Friends of Jamaica quickly drew on its iconic status and started fundraising for those affected.  

Major urban centres were mostly spared massive damage, and other parts of Jamaica are still recovering. Power has been a major failure. Even now it has not returned to some sections of the country. Internet connectivity has also been a problem despite denials from major providers.

As things get back to normal we now can laugh at the madness that prevailed before Beryl landed. Not a loaf of bread could be found in supermarkets. Bully beef, sardine, and mackerel were missing in action. Meanwhile, people bought a whole heap of stuff they may never need.

The hardware stores were also swamped. Kerosene sold like crazy. Candles and batteries left the shelves like sprinters. And plywood made their way to bar windows and showcases. Zinc and sand had good sales, too. Inside, we collected water and packed ice in the freezers so they stayed cold.

The streets were jammed. The rude and reckless driving we see all year got even worse. In the mad dash to prepare for Beryl Jamaicans broke all the rules. Gas stations were full and getting a taxi or Uber took time.
It is a mystery where most Jamaicans find money.  All year everybody ‘bruk’ but with news of a hurricane the shops and stores are suddenly full. The ATMs and Western Union lines were longer than the grocery bill.
There were the usual issues with fisherfolk, many were hesitant to pull in their boats or forgo heading out to sea. Dozens of shelters were put in place for those living in dodgy dwellings. But, like the fishing communities, some of them refused to budge. A bus sent to Port Royal to transport people to shelters left with one person, according to news reports. Market people showed the same stubbornness.

This hurricane couldn’t pass without all the jokes. The infamous “Can’t cross it” was quickly resuscitated. And the memes flowed endlessly, imploring, challenging, and cussing Beryl. Perhaps just to prove that this is not a real place, one guy showed up in a Kingston neighborhood in a Jamaican Superman costume offering to help.

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