Torrential and consistent rains fell on the central, western and southern portions of Belize causing over eighty residents to take refuge at hurricane shelters. According to the Acting Chief MET Officer Ronald Gordon, Belize experienced as much as twenty-five inches of rain primarily in the Cayo district. For now, the rains have subsided, but the waters will continue to channel into Belize’s rivers from neighboring Guatemala. This is where the dangers come in as the waterways will overflow and homes and yards in low lying areas will be severely impacted.
Ronald Gordon, Acting Chief MET Officer: “We he have experienced a significant amount of rainfall for the past five days. Accumulations have been ranging from about ten to about twenty five inches across the country that lower amount in the extreme north is about three to five inches. The highest amount was in Baldy Beacon that recorded upward of twenty inches of total rainfall between Sunday and this morning. The San Ignacio area specifically Santa Elena recorded up to 12.8 inches of rainfall as of midday today. The general rate in that area was about around ten to fifteen inches of rainfall over the past five days. Looking ahead we’re looking at improvement .As we mentioned his morning we expect conditions to be improving this afternoon and it has started to do so the rains have diminished quite a bit, the system is moving further out to the north east now away from Belize and as it does so moisture will begin to decrease so we should see further improvement over the weekend in terms of the weather conditions. I must mention again that the flooding will continue because of the rain fall and the rains coming down and the rivers actually all the water that are rushing down in the rivers from the west. We can expect extended flooding especially for folks living along the rivers. We have seen a situation like this in the past whereby you have the rainfall clearing up but people living down stream especially along the Belize River area will be experiencing flooding as the river begins to rise. One area of concern is of course the Crooked Tree area where most of the water ends up that will also be an area that will be experiencing flooding later on into the weekend into early next week even after the rainfall has diminished.”
In the most western municipality of Benque Viejo del Carmen residents along the Mopan River were forced to evacuate. The river rose quickly and subsequently damaged the main water pipe that feeds the homes in that area. Correspondent Moises Martinez has been monitoring the situation.
We could report that the rivers around that the water was going to be cut off, the water supply, because the main has been broken. So I rushed to the area there where I saw many people from the neighborhood watching the situation as it evolves. Yes the main pipe has been broken and it washed away in fact I was there when it started to break down. It was dramatic and the current just washed it away and I spoke to David Gonzales he’s the supervisor of BWS in Benque he explained to me that there is no water shortage at the moment.”
In rural Cayo in the area of Paslow Falls a family waited for help from NEMO and the Belize Coast Guard as their homes and nearby structures were surrounded by flood water.
Current situation up here in Paslow Falls. As you can see the impacts of Hurricane Eta has been tremendous and it has also been tremendous on our community down river Bullet Tree Falls. So right now we’re waiting for Coast Guard to come and evacuate us from here. We never expected the water to come all the way to this height. You can see here furniture from the house is already coming out, these were doors inside the green house seems the water wrenched them off and we refuged at the second floor of this house the yellow house but the water is already rapidly increasing also. So we have requested Coast Guard to come and take us out.”
Also, out west the situation was severe for one family who had to seek refuge on their roof. Their cry for help just before sunrise this morning was posted on social media. In the video only the roofs of nearby structures were visible as the waters rose all around. San Ignacio Town had their share of water as the Macal River surpassed its banks and made its way as far as the football field and the welcome centre. The municipality that many flocks to in times of hurricanes saw many homes engulfed in flood waters. Jose Zuniga of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) was front and centre working with other officials to assist residents primarily in the Calla Creek area and the Bullet Tree Village. According to Zuniga the last time such an intense flooding in the Cayo District occurred was back in 2008.
Jose Zuniga, National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO): “We’re trying to get as much of the persons requesting to be rescued we’re doing that on the river banks along those areas and resident areas those people who are calling and requesting to be assisted you know as much as possible.”
Rene Villanuevaa Sr: What’s the situation you say you’re rescuing people along the river bank what is the situation like as we speak ?
Jose Zuniga, National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO): “Well it’s just those that took a little long to get out you know we asked them to come out from the low lying areas at an early stage but if we don’t have to get through the rescue part of it. But some residents as usual are reluctant and they want to secure their items and probably that’s what happened but at the moment we have a boat from the Coast Guard that is ready to go and do rescues and we’ve been having boats from the BDF doing that as well so we have had quite a few rescues being done as we speak at the moment.”
Also in the Cayo District is the Roaring Creek Village that had their own challenges as the old bridge connecting with Belmopan became inundated with the flood waters. Residents in the area including the old police station were forced to evacuate their homes and in the case of businesses and stores they were urged to secure their assets and keep closed for the day. Correspondents Pauline Tillett and Fem Cruz caught up with the CEO in the Ministry of Works, Errol Gentle on the George Price Highway. According to Gentle the highway is opening at intervals as they attempt to address the compromised areas on the highway.
Errol Gentle, CEO in the Ministry of Works: “As you can see the flooding out here is terrible. It’s something of great concern and we want motorists to be very very careful when coming through this area. We cannot close off the highway, this is the major highway and we can’t close it off and whilst there won’t be problems for big vehicles, higher vehicles and even some small diesel vehicles owners of small vehicles especially gas vehicles we’re asking that they refrain from coming this way. Tonight it is a very great concern for myself and we’re asking that drivers take extreme caution and if you don’t need to use the highway then don’t use the highway. If you’re coming from either the east or the west in a small vehicle after that by no means attempt to traverse this area even though we’re using this back street but we expect that the water will start going down but not before a couple hours by that time it might already be dark and we’re really asking the motorists to refrain from using the highway, refrain from coming through this area at night if they don’t have to.”
The George Price Highway is not the only thoroughfare comprised due to rapid rising waters and incessant rains. At one point during the course of the day a portion of the Hummingbird Highway was blocked while the entire Coastal Road was closed off. Minister responsible for NEMO explained earlier today that the Ministry of Works and engineers have been out conducting assessments at specific areas of the country’s infrastructure.
It was five months ago that several areas on the highway collapsed due to flooding. Our newsroom has been persistent in seeking responses from officials in the Ministry of Works pertaining to the repairs primarily at mile 38 near St Matthews Village. On September 24 the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Work, Errol Gentle spoke to Love News saying that a bypass was going to be implemented. Our news team was at mile 38 this morning where we met with Senior Engineer Irvin Thimbriel who explained what works are being carried out. Thamar Jones has that story.
Love News understands that the George Price Highway is being opened at intervals while works are being carried out.