NEMO fly-over shows devastation to farming communities in the west
The central and western parts of the country are slowly getting back to normal after a weekend of heavy rains and floods attributed to Hurricane Julia. The National Emergency Management Organisation and its various partners conducted an aerial assessment of floodwaters in the Cayo District. Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management Orlando Habet explained that even as the water subsides, the productive sector was significantly affected and there are some roads still underwater.
Orlando Habet, Minister of Sustainable Development, Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management: “We flew over the area where Santander has planted sugar cane, some sugar cane was affected. The waters have spread out to a possibly as much as they would have gone on the flat areas and what the hydrology department is telling us is that when it burst over it’s seams and spreads out then it starts rising and that’s when we start to see a lot of the water coming up. Certainly a lot of the devastation all over the productive sector for agriculture especially in the Spanish Lookout area we saw fields of corn that were underwater, some that water had passed and the corn is lying down. I think some beans. We went over an area where you could have seen cattle that were all huddled together because water had formed sort of an island and so the cattle moved up to the highest area. You could have seen certainly that some animals have died because you could have seen the crows now perching and trying to look for the remains but what was also interesting was how the river burst open and formed new avenues of where to go and so what we were told from the hydrology unit and the engineering department is that what happens is that it depends on where most of the water falls and so each flooding event is different from the other. So whilst we may not have had the rise in the river as much as it happened during Eta and Iota this one had some devastation that also didn’t occur with that flooding event because of where the water fell and apparently a lot of the water fell in the productive sector area apart from what was coming out from upriver in the Macal and Mopan area.”
Minister Habet said that one takeaway is the need for the improvement of early-warning systems. The flood forecast has a flood alert in effect for the Belize River, the Crooked Tree Lagoon, the Mopan and Macal Rivers in the central and western parts of Belize. Similarly, an alert is in place for the Money River and the Sibun River at Freetown Sibun. The Belize River at Double Run is on a flood watch as levels there are expected to increase while the Sittee River at Kendal, the Moho River at Blue Creek South and Jordan, and the Temash at Crique Sarco remain at flood stage.