Hurricane Beryl strikes during Louisiana couple’s anniversary trip in Jamaica

Video: Hurricane Beryl as it approached Jamaica

ADDIS, LA — ‘Like a Hurricane’ wasn’t their wedding song but it’s what they’re singing after celebrating their 17th anniversary in Jamaica. Devan and Amy Campbell encountered unexpected chaos as Hurricane Beryl swept through Jamaica. The couple, from Addis, had chosen to commemorate their special day at the Couples Negril resort, the very place they exchanged vows years ago.

“We knew the storm was out there and debated whether to cancel or not, but obviously, we decided to go anyway. The storm looked like it was gonna stay farther south than it actually did,” Devan Campbell said.

The tranquil celebrations quickly turned tumultuous as Hurricane Beryl intensified to a devastating category 4 storm upon reaching the island. The powerful hurricane resulted in the tragic loss of seven lives across Jamaica.

“It’s rare to get a storm like this early in July,” Devan added. 

It is very rare with Beryl being the first of its kind to reach category 5 strength so early in the hurricane season. Beryl is the third earliest Atlantic major hurricane on record, behind Alma (1966) and Audrey (1957), escalating from a tropical depression to a major hurricane in a mere 39 hours.

“We are from south Louisiana, so we’ve been through numerous hurricanes,” he said. “We’ve never been through a hurricane in the tropics before, so weren’t sure what to expect.”

Devan and his wife Amy found themselves in the midst of the storm’s fury.

“The biggest difference is this one didn’t weaken as it came through, probably because the eye stayed over water just offshore,” he recounted. “The first half of the storm was very dry, all wind and very little rain. However, the back half of the storm was a complete monsoon for another five hours or so. It was a very fast moving storm!”

Despite the resort’s sturdy infrastructure and preparedness measures, the Campbells described hours of tense waiting and seeking shelter along with fellow guests as Beryl battered the island.

“They predicted the storm would weaken before it got here. But all of a sudden, it went to a category 5 for a short time the day before it got to Jamaica and then a cat 4 when it came through here,” he said. “That’s when everyone started to get anxious and nervous.”

In the aftermath of the hurricane, the resort sustained some damage, but fortunately, no guests were seriously injured and they never lost electricity due to backup generators. The Campbells praised the resort’s staff for their professionalism and care during the crisis. “The staff did an excellent job of taking care of the guests,” Devan added.

Though far from home, he tells UWK that it felt just like Louisiana the day after the storm.

“The hotel was understaffed, obviously, so many of the guests were on the grounds and beaches at sunrise cleaning and piling up all the debris. Everyone came together. The people of Jamaica are a lot like us in south Louisiana…very resilient and enjoy they life.”

The Campbells’ anniversary trip, which began with nostalgic memories and hopes of relaxation, ended with a stark reminder of the unpredictable forces of nature. Despite the harrowing experience, the couple says they are grateful to be alive and well and they’ll continue to visit.

“We’ll definitely remember this anniversary,” he reflected. “We always do our vacations around our anniversary, so I’m sure we’ll continue to travel especially to Negril because it’s our special place, but we’ll definitely keep a closer eye on the tropics in the future.”

Tracking Hurricane Beryl

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