Jamaicans in Chicago brace for Hurricane Beryl's impact on loved ones

Beulah Jones, a Rogers Park business owner, is among those in the Chicago area impacted by Hurricane Beryl, a deadly storm striking the Caribbean

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As the historically early and strong Hurricane Beryl moves towards potential landfall in Jamaica, Jamaicans in Chicago are preparing for the storm's impact on loved ones.

Previously of Category 5 strength, the storm was downgraded to Category 4 earlier Tuesday.

Beulah Jones is a native of Kingston who has plans to travel back to Jamaica in a matter of days to visit a sick loved one. 

"I should be traveling on Sunday, which is the 7th, and right now I'm like, in limbo," Jones told NBC Chicago.

Jones returns to Jamaica every year and said 2024 will be no different, regardless of the hurricane.

She celebrates her love of the island daily as an entrepreneur in Rogers Park, operating Lady B Boutique on Howard Street, which sells everything from hand-made clothing to Caribbean crafts and Jamaican-inspired textiles.

"Jamaica is an island that is very spiritual," she said. "I'm just praying."

Jones vividly remembers the destruction caused in Jamaica by the Category 5 Hurricane Gilbert in 1988. This time around, she's hopeful improved infrastructure will keep people safe.

Just a few stores down from Jones' boutique is Michael Humes' family bakery, Caribbean American Baking Company.

Humes also has family in Jamaica, but said he isn't overly concerned with Hurricane Beryl.

"We've been through it. So you just have to weather the storm, so to speak," Humes said.

Hurricane Beryl has already claimed six lives, while keeping travel experts on high alert as it continues toward a possible landfall in Jamaica.

"Every single hurricane uproots business, that's just how it is," Lynn Farrell, president of Windy City Travel said.

Farrell said she has had to re-route multiple clients who had plans to visit Jamaica, while encouraging those interested in traveling to acquire travel insurace.

"One of the things travel insurance also does, is it gives you medical coverage, while you're outside of the United States," Farrell said.

As for Jones, she's leaning into her faith and wishing for the best, praying that the storm won't bring the destruction she recalls from Hurricane Gilbert.

"We just have to accept whatever comes and pray and hope that it passes," Jones said.

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