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Aug 9, 2016

NEMO Keeps Watch on Belize River Valley

In the Belize River Valley, communities are preparing but hoping that flooding will not further affect their livelihood. Water levels are up and at least one village, May Pen, is not accessible. NEMO continues to monitor the Belize River for any eventuality. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

The impact of Hurricane Earl is devastating. Water levels rose in the twin towns in the west and as Earl continued its path; the downpour in Guatemala caused the Macal and Mopan Rivers to dangerously rise causing damage to the low-lying wooden bridge in San Ignacio which also flooded right up to the Welcome Center. All that water has trickled down to the Belize District and now water levels are up in villages through which the Belize River traverses. For the past few days, water levels have been up several feet; it’s been dangerously close to the edge, but has remained constant. Today, as we made our way through the Belize River Valley, several parts of Texas Road are under at least a foot of water and yards in Scotland Halfmoon are flooded.

 

Alphius Gillett

Alphius Gillett, Assistant Coordinator, NEMO Belize District

“The report we have been getting from our river monitors is that the Belize River at present is at standstill. But the situation is that whenever the Belize River is overflow, it then distributes water into its contributing tributaries and the problem we are having right now in areas as Rancho Dolores, May Pen, Isabella, Scotland especially in the Texas Road area and the Bamboo Patch area. But the good part of it is that before this storm, the Crooked Tree Lagoon which is the final catchment area was at its lowest point so we expect no major flooding if the weather condition remains the same.”

 

Alphius Gillett is the NEMO Coordinator responsible for the area that spans Lord’s Bank, through to the Belize River Valley, Biscayne and Crooked Tree. Gillett says that even before the hurricane made landfall just outside Belize City, they were monitoring the areas. To date, May Pen has been inaccessible.

 

Alphius Gillett

“The only place we can say was cutoff would be May Pen because the bridge at May Pen is not recommended for heavy weight vehicles to enter that area. But what we have been doing in terms of relief and supply, we have been going into areas, specifically the affected areas—the most needy area—we have been giving water and the basic food supplies. And in addition to that, what we have been doing, you guys are fully aware that the Belize District was without electricity for a few days. So NEMO has been putting in place generators for those villages that have water tanks—for example Crooked Tree and Maskal—that is what NEMO has been doing.”

 

The Emergency Operations Center; situated in Sand Hill just past the Boom Cutoff, remains fully activated and today, care packages and basic supplies were being stacked and taken out to the villages that were affected by the storm. All shelters however, are on standby, in the event that the overflowing river begins to flood homes.

 

Alphius Gillett

“We have made contact with the shelter managers from Rancho, from Isabella, from Scotland Halfmoon; we are in constant contact with them so that if the need arise that the water should continue to raise, most definitely NEMO is ready to activate and open our shelters again. The problem we will be having, for example the Spanish Creek area is connected to the Belize River; Muscle Creek is connected to the Belize River and the Black Creek. So these villages that are around these tributaries, we are having some problems. But as I explain, if the weather continues this way, we expect no major flooding. Based on the fact that the Belize River is at standstill; that’s the main source, most of the water from the west has reached this side already and I am telling you Crooked Tree is far from reaching its climax. So that is good news for people living along the Belize River Valley.”

 

Gillett maintains that preparation is key in weathering storms and village councils must have an emergency plan.

 

Alphius Gillett

“We, at NEMO, have been working with the village councils prior to the storm. Normally, part of the year when we have training along with the village council and many people might miss the point, but the village council is a part of NEMO. And it is very important that we coordinate and collaborate with the village council to ensure that these guys have their emergency plan. So preparation is very important; it is not perfect, but it is work ahead and we will continue to work along with the various village councils.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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