An estimated three hundred residents of Benque Viejo Del Carmen Town, Cayo District, were affected by a massive flash flood. Low-lying areas were especially affected, as well as the road between San Jose Succotz and Benque and the low-lying bridge in San Ignacio. When we arrived in Benque, Minister of National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), Edmund Castro, was already on the ground assisting families in need, including El Calvario Evangelical Church, which was completely flooded.
Edmond Castro, Minister for National Emergency Management Organization: “We had a flash flooding situation here in this area as a result of the constant rain downpour over four hours constant so the water came out of the mountains or the hills and rushed down towards the river. So we have approximately some three hundred persons affected in this area so we have the excavator and backhoe and other equipment out from Ministry of Works and so on from the area representative Honorable Erwin Contreras assisting to clear up the roads so that in the event more rains, which will come, will come tonight or tomorrow that it will not be just as bad. Also from NEMO’s point of view we are assisting residents in this area affected by the flood situation with some much needed assistance such as basic things like mattresses, table top stoves -some of their stuff got totally destroyed so we are here trying to provide some kind of assistance for them. In the event we have some that need to be relocated we have NEMO out here, we have already done the assessment and they will be able to deal with that. Normally flash floods will come and within an hour two or a couple hours or so the flash flood should find the path of easy resistance and go about its ways but by then the damage would already be done to homes and families and animals and livestock.”
Courtney Menzies, Love FM News: Was this church badly damaged?
Edmond Castro, Minister for National Emergency Management Organization: “Just about everything, according to the pastor, everything all the equipment has been destroyed because of the backlog of water and so they are salvaging what they could and we are here to try and support. We cannot buy back all their guitars and other instruments but we are trying to deal with the basics that we can afford to do at this time. This corridor, this water passage is a unique one that we noticed from going around today that some people are building in the flood prone areas whereby it’s in the path of where the culvert is and they are building ahead of the culvert so it’s bound to have a disastrous situation.”
Mayor of Benque Viejo Del Carmen, Gerardo Marconi Sosa, was on the grounds with Minister Castro. According to Sosa, many of the residents are prone to be affected due to the low-lying areas in the town.
Gerardo Marconi Sosa, Mayor of Benque Viejo Del Carmen: “The building authority has it’s own regulations, nonetheless before the town council started to deal with the building unit we did have these buildings already in place and it so happened that people are building in areas where it’s deep, it’s closest to the creek and those kinds of things become a situation of the everyday stuff call it that way. It had not been a situation that had occurred over the last year since we did not have enough rain but this time it was a surprise and indeed it was big, this is the third time that the place is being flooded and we’re trying to look at ways and means to alleviate the situations. There are two situations that need to be addressed so that this matter does not repeat itself. One when you look at the place closest to the border it’s the culvert on the highway, once we can rebuild that culvert in a manner that it can hold or let go more water it is going to ease off the situation all along the creek. Now I believe that building the culvert bigger will alleviate the situation. That is one, in this area I think the wall that divides that two properties is the main issue. I’ve tried to address the situation since we came in but it has been quite difficult. I am satisfied to the point that I see the minister here, I see the area representative trying to live the experience as people are living it and at the same time looking at situations where I believe it will be addressed.”
Drainage is also a problem in the town, which caused the water to recede slowly. Mount Caramel Primary School was also partially flooded, causing classes to be dismissed.