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Aug 4, 2016

Hurricane Earl Tears through Belize City

Hurricane Earl drenched Belize on Wednesday night packing ferocious winds of up to eighty miles per hour. The hurricane made landfall after midnight near Belize City and moved westward.  The city and the rest of the Belize District felt the full brunt of the storm which caused water levels to rise significantly. Residents experienced water surges as high as six feet in some areas; devastation to houses and infrastructure has been tremendous all around. Some roads and highways are passable, but electricity is yet to be restored throughout the city and districts. Financial losses are significant and recovery efforts are now underway. Tonight, we start our coverage in Belize City in the aftermath of the hurricane where residents perhaps underestimated the potential impact. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Hurricane Earl wreaked havoc across the country. In the city, as early as nine this morning, a reconnaissance exercise took place assessing the damage across the Old Capital. As you make your way across the city, some streets remain inundated; debris such as trees and fallen electrical cable wires, lampposts and signs are scattered across the pavement. A preliminary assessment shows that the city was hard hit as Hurricane Earl made landfall a couple miles south of the Old Capital.


Darrell Bradley

Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor

“Reports are and I have seen it myself and the report confirms this that the base of the city…for example in and surrounding Saint Ignatius School. Those streets are inundated with water; we are talking about two inches of water. We are speaking about major structural damage in relation to houses along Yarborough, Caesar Ridge Road. In the outer areas of Belize City, we are talking about roof damage, wall damage; we are talking about the yards being inundated with water. One of the things that we are pleased with is the efforts in relation to cleaning of drains seem to have work because we were seeing tremendous amount of water pooling during the storm itself, but by five o’clock this morning, most of that had run off.”


Personnel from DANA, the Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis Committee of NEMO, went around Belize City and established a preliminary report on the state of the city. We made our way across major hotspots on south side Belize City and the destruction was frightening.


Back in 2010, the Yarborough community was hardest hit by Hurricane Richard, a system with the same intensity. As debris and garbage are seen strewn across the Caesar Ridge thoroughfare, residents rummage through what is left of their houses. One yard with four houses was completed destroyed. Brindell Munnings says the waters rose to their stomachs and some priceless things were lost in the storm.


Brindell Munnings

Brindell Munnings, Yarborough Resident

“Everyone took to shelter and the house was abandoned. This was the first house that came down. When that came down, it crashed into another house, break this one here, move this one from here. And a boat came from off the sea, crashed in and washed away my friends house there and the back here. Everything just happened in a split second big man this was an unbelievable storm; I’ve never seen a storm do so much damage to the bay in all my life living around here. Mister Laing house blow down, the young lady house blow down and the back here rip up. Back here had some fishing gears; the gas wash away and everything is in a disaster as you can plainly see. The whole of the bay is ruined.”


Over in the Jane Usher Boulevard area, a fifty-nine year old man says that he almost lost his life when his house collapsed atop him. He was rescued by the police and taken to the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital. Sandy Hinks says the winds were so phenomenal that his house came off its stilts.


Sandy Hinks

Sandy Hinks, Resident, Jane Usher Boulevard Area

“I stayed inside the house, nail up, and about around one a.m., the roof went off. I was in the bed and I get nervous so I went under the bed. And I just see a light come under the roof. All of a sudden, the roof went right over on the next side. I went under the bed after the roof flipped then the house start to vibrate and the whole wall collapsed on me. It is a good thing I had my cell phone and I called for 911 and I called for my sister and my sister called NEMO. So the police took me from under the bed and took me to the Karl Heusner Hospital.”


Over three hundred families live within the Holy Emmanuel Extension area, better known as the Gungulung. Illegal electrical wiring to power homes as well as snakes and crocodiles within the swamp are very real hazards that residents are faced with. Apart from several houses, entrepreneur Kirk Davis of F and V Fruit Shop says that his source of revenue was damaged by Hurricane Earl.


Kirk Davis

Kirk Davis, Owner, F & V Fruit Shop

“I never really expected for my shop to be destroyed, but these natural disasters does happen like this and yo always have to accept the unexpected. So right now it is just to try to rebuild my shop back and try to recover my goods and school bags for my six children because school will be reopening in a very short time, in less than three weeks time.”


Water and electricity supply to most, if not all houses, were cut off as a result of damaged power lines and lamppost.


Darrell Bradley

“Councilor Willoughby is in communication with all the sister agencies that work with the government and the municipality including the utility companies. One of the concerns though is that there are a significant amount of down power lines. I got a report that B.E.L. staff was out early this morning in terms of doing an assessment in terms of doing what needs to be done. I was told, I don’t know this in terms of any confirmation, that certain transformers need to be replaced. Of course those are equipment that needs to be either in storage or procured so that we haven’t gotten an ETA in relation to bringing on board electricity in Belize City, but the paramount concern always is safety. If you have down power lines, you don’t want to turn on power in any particular area because you want to prevent against any fire or shock.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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