Montreal family feels wrath of Hurricane Beryl in Jamaica

“It was hard for us," said Montrealer Pascal Soucy, as he and his family felt the wrath of Hurricane Beryl on their Jamaican vacation. Alyssia Rubertucci reports.

A Montreal family can now enjoy their vacation in Jamaica, after Hurricane Beryl hit the island and continued on in its trajectory.

Pascal Soucy and his family have been in Runaway Bay since Monday, just before the hurricane made landfall, and soon after were told to stay in their rooms.

He says the worst of it came through on Wednesday.

Pascal Soucy’s view from his room in Jamaica on July 3, 2024. (Photo submitted)

“Winds started being much stronger, some physical damage to the building started to occur,” he said. “In the building where we were, on the sixth floor, the hallways got flooded. A few doors got punched through by the wind pressure. Patio doors shattered.”

On Thursday, he said the weather completely changed.

“We woke up to a beautiful sunny day,” he said. “We took a walk around the resort, we saw a lot of physical damage.”

Soucy says he hopes to salvage the remaining days of his trip, after being barricaded for the first few days.

“It was hard for us, but it was harder for the children and on our floor almost everybody had children,” he said. “So for them to be stuck inside like this, hearing the rumbling outside and the wind and everything, we did our best to keep them in good spirits, but at the same time you could see on our faces that we were not comfortable with the situation.”

The aftermath of Hurricane Beryl at a resort in Runaway Bay, Jamaica on July 4, 2024. (Pascal Soucy)

Soucy, however, says he thinks Air Canada should have had better judgment before allowing the aircraft to take them to Jamaica before the hurricane. He says they either could have cancelled the flight Monday or offered him a refund and rescheduling option.

“I don’t feel like they had our best interest at heart by still sending us here,” he said.

Air Canada tells CityNews in a statement by e-mail: “We have operated all planned flights when it was safe to do so, which was the case on Monday. Due to the later trajectory of Hurricane Beryl, it was not the case anymore on Wednesday and both Montego Bay and Kingston airports closed.”

Air Canada says for both airports, they plan on resuming normal service on Friday, but instead will use larger aircrafts. They also point to their policy on refunds.

For Gabor Lukacs, president of Air Passenger Rights, Air Canada had no obligation to cancel the flight on Monday.

“It has followed all the rules, it has flown when it was safe to fly in,” he said. “But what it could have done, but was not required to do, is offer passengers maybe a free-of-charge rebooking to a later date. That would have been a kind of nice thing to do, but they didn’t have to.”

Lukacs says the airline has a responsibility for the safety of passengers and crew members during the flight, but adds that passengers can choose whether they still want to go to a destination when they know there’s bad weather.

He says passengers should take it up with their provider of travelers’ insurance, although Soucy says his did not cover this case.

Instead, cancelling for Soucy and his family would have meant losing thousands of dollars, something he says he originally was not interested in doing.

“If I knew this was going to happen the way it happened, maybe I would have just taken the step and lost the money and taken the hit,” he said on Thursday.

The family now has five days left to the vacation.

“After living what we live in yesterday just being here safe and then enjoying the sun and the beach will be good for us,” he said. “Now I think we’re going to be more thankful for the trip and for the nice weather that we’re having today.”

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