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Nov 3, 2017

Crooked Tree on Alert for Flooded Lagoon

Tonight, residents of Crooked Tree village are on alert. For the past several days, there has been rain in the area, and the Crooked Tree Lagoon is now in overflow. Additionally, spillover waters from the Belize River and Spanish Creek, received from the Cayo District, have confluence to cause problems for some residents of the area. All eyes are on the village causeway, which was under seven inches of water this morning although water levels were stable as of news time. It’s not time to panic, but as Aaron Humes reports, the villagers are already experiencing some ill effects and hoping to avoid more.

 

Aaron Humes, Reporting

It was a quiet Friday in the insular village of Crooked Tree, but under the placid surface there is worry. The annual overflowing of the banks of the Crooked Tree lagoon has this year been exacerbated by spillover from flooding in the deep West, and village chairman John Gillett says this coming weekend could be crisis point.

 

John Gillett

John Gillett, Chairman, Crooked Tree

“As of this morning we have seven inches of water across the deepest point of the causeway and the measurement at the first bridge there was three point seven eight meters. Yesterday morning it was three point seven-four, so we are only seeing a rise of zero-point-zero-four [meter] rise in level since yesterday, which is maybe just over an inch or so. The rate at which the water is coming in at the moment has reduced drastically, and the levels on the causeway will be directly dependent on the amount of rain and where we get the rain in the country.  We have some areas which are being threatened at this time. Even though the access to those areas may be inundated at this time the houses are not under water as yet, so no reason for the people to move as yet. But if the water continues to rise, then these people will have to be moved from their location to another location.”

 

The forecast from the National Met Service calls for showers over central Belize through Friday evening, with fair weather expected for the rest of the weekend. But the accumulation of rainfall from earlier in the week and the arrival of the flood waters from the Belize River and Spanish Creek into the lagoon have already combined to inundate properties like Angie Webb’s. She and her husband own the Crooked Tree Lodge, which seemed to be combined with the nearby lagoon when we visited this afternoon.

 

Angie Webb

Angie Webb, Co-Owner, Crooked Tree Lodge

“We’ve been seeing the effects of the flooding for about two weeks now, and so far, in comparison to 2013 it’s not as bad but it’s still a huge inconvenience. For example, we have someone staying and there’s not much they can do apart from hang out in their room or on the balconies. The property is probably ninety percent flooded at the moment and we are just trying to cope as best as we can. We have other people booked in to stay in the next week or so. If the water continues to rise then we will have to cancel these reservations and recommend other places for people to stay. We have got our boat out, our boat is ready; if you look we just saw some people passing in their kayaks on the Crooked Tree Lagoon. It’s just a real inconvenience, but it’s better to be happy – stay calm, enjoy the water when it’s here, because when it’s all gone then we have the dry season and everything is just dry and dusty and dry.”

 

Other residents would likely agree. But for now, the wait continues, and Gillett goes to check the level near the first bridge twice a day. He says that drivers can pass for now but should exercise their best judgment.

 

John Gillett

“Once we get around twelve to fifteen inches or the four meter mark by the bridge there, we will then have to look at alternative means of crossing. In that case, what we would normally do is use boats; and whenever we use these boats it takes us to the other side of the lagoon and then when we go to the other side of the lagoon the bus transports people into their respective areas.   What I would want to advise people, especially those traveling in small vehicles, be very, very careful, take your time across. The water is only seven inches and you will be able to assess whether your vehicle can handle seven inches or not. You take the chances and that in itself should be a measure in which you can make the decision.”

 

Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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