Belizeans weather the rains brought on by Invest97L
Belizeans across the country were able to brace for an incoming weather, after having days to prepare for the incessant rains that were forecast. The weather system, Invest97L, brought multiple inches of rainfall that led to streets, roads and bridges immersed in water. Luckily, every Belizean is safe from the flood waters that are now slowly receding. We join Reporter Vejea Alvarez for a look at the aftermath of the incessant rains.
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Persistent rains over the weekend have led to schools being closed, streets being inundated, shelters being opened, and residents playing hopscotch as they traverse their yards in various cities and towns. Since Friday, there has been a steady downpour brought on by inclement weather. The incessant rain led to country-wide flooding, according to Daniel Mendez, Chief of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO).
Daniel Mendez, National Coordinator, NEMO: “Over the weekend we were responding to rising waters in the San Ignacio area. Fortunately it did not become too serious and we did not receive any reports of damages, certainly no loss of lives this time. Of course the system continues to affect us. We remain in operation, we remain monitoring the passage of this across the country and we will continue to do so as long as necessary.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: While there was no major damage caused by the rain, in Belize City, most residents suffered from flooded yards. Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner was on the ground and explained that the effects of the weather were minimal.
Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “We visited the Aloe Vera area this morning and essentially what people were facing were water in their yards and so we were quickly able to mobilize our backhoe and went in there did some rehabilitation in the drains and the water is now flowing back out into the river. That is where we want that water flow to be constantly going. I continue to impress on our staff that we have to ensure that our drainage has the necessary culverts, we have the necessary connection from a drain to a canal from the canal to the river.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: For communities along the Macal River in Cayo, the heavy showers kept them on their toes. The Mayor of the Twin Towns Earl Trapp explained that areas near the banks of the river that would normally flood were not heavily impacted.
Earl Trapp, Mayor, San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town: “The flood prone area would be in the Cayo North East area and a part in Santa Elena. Those areas the water has risen to a level but not high enough that it affected the people. The water has been flowing very smoothly. I think we had cleared most of our drains before the start of the rain and because the ground was so dry I think it soaked up a big portion of the water.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The rise in river levels forced the closure of the Baking Pot Ferry, Xunantunich Ferry, and the Iguana Creek Bridge. However, according to Trapp, the rivers in Cayo did not rise to historic levels, and he attributed the decrease to help from the district’s dams.
Earl Trapp, Mayor, San Ignacio/Santa Elena Town: “I believe that the water has been flowing smoothly because of the fact that the water from Guatemala has not impacted this area yet and I believe that when that comes into effect then the water here will stop receding at the rate that it’s going. I’m very much surprised and impressed that it’s going really quick. At this time when we have had so much rain this water would have risen to this point already but I believe that the Chalillo Dam has been playing its role in helping us to regulate this water. It was in dire need of water so it has been capturing all that water that would have come this way and affected us.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: The brunt of the rains was felt in the Belize and Cayo Districts, but previous showers and saturated ground in Dangriga led to flooding in the coastal community. Mayor of the Culture Capital, Robert Mariano says the council quickly mobilized and even opened a shelter to prepare for the worst.
Robert Mariano, Mayor, Dangriga Town: “The constant rain brings too much water and as a result we’re seeing a lot of flooding in certain areas of Dangriga especially in the Rivas Estate and the Wagierale area of Dangriga. Of course there are parts of New Site area which is also flooded and so we continue to stay as active as we can to monitor the situation and since last night I have called a meeting with NEMO, I am the vice chair but as of this time I’m acting as the chair and so we have made a decision to make Ecumenical High School available in the event they have that flooding, the big flooding.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Belize City Mayor Bernard Wagner says that as weather conditions become more severe due to climate change, there is a need for climate-resilience infrastructure to prepare for the future.
Bernard Wagner, Mayor of Belize City: “We are considered like a small island developing state even though we’re not an island per se but we are a coastal city and so the impact of climate change is real and we are not immune to it. Belize City you can see if you look at world news you will see some of the big cities all across the world facing this climate change issue and so you have to be able to look at how do you mitigate, how do you adapt and ensure that your infrastructure is climate resilient and putting in place the required maintenance, the drainage. We know we’ll never be able to fully get to where we want to be in terms of drainage connection, in terms of the infrastructure, the climate resilient infrastructure but if we start at a gradual pace ensuring that we have a blue print and we have a plan.”