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Aug 5, 2016

A look at the Destruction of Hurricane Earl on San Pedro

In the prime tourist destination, San Pedro, the popular Costa Maya festival has been cancelled. The influx of persons expected to attend has dropped dramatically so the festival has had to be called off. Within the island, residents are picking up the pieces where possible. A number of small and fragile establishments were battered and in some instances, flattened by the horrendous hurricane. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

It’s been two days since Hurricane Earl wreaked havoc in the country, making landfall to the south of Belize City. Gushing sustained winds of up to eighty miles per hour, twelve inches of rainfall and water surges of up to six feet, the category one hurricane has had a phenomenal effect on residents. But even before the storm made its impact on the mainland, the prime tourism destinations of Caye Caulker and San Pedro felt the brunt of its force.

On La Isla Bonita, some ninety percent of the piers and docks facing the Belize Barrier Reef were destroyed by Hurricane Earl. The water taxi stations and dive shops hoisted over the water, collapsed into the Caribbean Sea.  Debris including zincs, wood and garbage were littered across the beaches and today, residents as well as businesses owners engaged in cleanup efforts were picking up the pieces, seeing what they could salvage. One popular spot, the Palapa Bar—all its furniture, equipment as well as dive shop—has disappeared.

 

Scott Harnish, Owner, Palapa Bar

“About one or two o’clock in the morning, it was already coming down and you couldn’t get out here and do anything because the wind was so strong. And by three or four o’clock it was all on the beach. Everything is gone; we’ve lost everything. Unfortunately for us, it was uninsurable. We tried to get insurance, but they wouldn’t cover it for insurance. So this is going to be a loss for us as far as…we lost everything.”

 

As early as six a.m. on Wednesday, thousands of residents and tourists evacuated the islands, making their way to higher grounds. Others braved the storm either at their homes or at shelters prepared by NEMO across the island.  The San Mateo area is a low-lying area on San Pedro and some residents are impoverished. In the aftermath of Hurricane Earl, their poor living condition worsened. Houses completely destroyed left persons exposed to the elements. Edna Moh and her family who live along the lagoon sought shelter at the San Pedro High School.

 

Edna Moh, Resident, San Pedro Ambergris Caye

“We are here from long time. My mom lives her like about ten years. We didn’t stay here. We went by the high school and that Wednesday night was very strong, the winds. We were peeping by the door and the winds blow all the things. The branches of the trees and all type of things. It was very rough.”

 

Edna Moh

Duane Moody

“Talk to us about the damage you saw here at your home when you guys came back.”

 

Edna Moh

“The yard was full of water and the yard gone…part of the fence was gone. Water get high.”

 

The effects of Hurricane Richard are far-reaching because many persons are out of jobs and essentially their families are left without a source of income.

 

Jodie & Scott Harnish

Jodie Harnish, Owner, Palapa Bar

“We had eighteen employees, plus the people that run the dive shop. So we supported them and all their families. And they are here working with us now trying to go through all of this. We are trying to find a way to keep them as long as we can do it, to keep them with paychecks to take care of their families. And they’ve been so loyal and helpful to us; we can’t thank them enough. And we are just hoping that we can get this rebuilt and get them back and running and keep them all in jobs.”

 

Scott Harnish

“We did a quick count with the guys and stuff like that and with their families back on the mainland. So they are working out here to send back and we counted over a hundred family members. Most of them of males that work out here and sending money back to their families. So it is going to affect over a hundred people. Plus our supplies, the people we buy from; it’s gonna be hard to put a number on that because we by supplies, we buy everything we can from local people.”

 

For some, it was a first-time experience.

 

Edna Moh

“Yes it is the first time, but it was very strong. For me, it was very strong because that’s the first time I see something like that. I have never experienced something so strong….for me and my family.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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