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May 28, 2009

Placencia residents assess damages after tremor

Story PictureIn our continued coverage of the tremor, News Five Jose Sanchez, travelled to the peninsula where he found the community on edge.

Jose Sanchez, Reporting
In southern Belize on the Placencia peninsula, residents were shaken out of their beds early this morning by the tremors of the earthquake.

German Eiley, Placencia Resident
“I just feel on the wall to find a door out because everything was completely black out and I couldn’t see nothing. After the earthquake finish then I stop and I said let me get myself together. Then I realize I feel where the refridge is and then I know exactly where the door is. Then from there I feel the door and I went outside and everything was so quiet, everybody just have candle, spotting light. They were talking about some building crack, some move, whatever. Then I went back and tried to sleep; I couldn’t sleep.”

Samuel Burgess, Placencia Resident
“Well I just hold onto my ma like if I neva hold on pan nothing before. After dat I run out yah so inna lone boxers di wonder weh happen.”

Jose Sanchez
“And you?”

Blake Leslie, Placencia Resident
“My ma mi wake me up and she pull me and tell me mek I go outside and den I gone downstairs and I mi di shake.”

Jose Sanchez
“Frightened?”

Blake Leslie
“Yeah.”

The village chairman Brian Yearwood, liaised with the police and made checks around the peninsula.

Brian Yearwood, Chairman, Placencia Village
“When we got to the point we noticed that one of the piers were down and one of the piers were badly damaged with the fuel pumps at the end of the pier. That was broken up and maybe another fifteen minutes west of that was another pier, a dive shop which was actually the floor was sitting in the water. It had dropped maybe a couple of feet. Then we patrolled and naturally the current went out and we led with our flashlights and checked all the buildings and the people and as we proceeded around we noticed that there were cracks in cement mainly at the point. We noticed that there were cracks in the street from about six to eight inches.”

Classes were called off at St. John’s Anglican Memorial School. Staff and faculty were assessing the cracks and separations of the steps and verandas of the school building. But the reason for the school closure was that there was no potable water in Placencia.

Brian Yearwood
“I also met with the principal early this morning and they told me that there was no need for the kids to go to school because they didn’t have any water to drink and I didn’t think it was safe for them to go to school. The water tower was badly damaged. We heard that the one in Mango Creek had collapsed. So we rushed out to see ours and we saw right away from the spotlight, we could tell it was damaged. Right now it looks a little shaky. I can’t really tell right now but an engineer—we have to get an engineer in quickly and assess the damage and see if that’s gonna have to be reinforced because as you can see it’s cracked at the bottom and at the top of each of the four legs. We don’t know it will come down or not right now. So we’re just hoping that it remains as it is. What we did was we emptied all the water out the reservoir at the top so we just have water at the bottom. So released the weight from the top.”

There were other parts of the village that were affected. The floor and tiles of the Placencia Producers Fishermen Cooperative were ripped apart like a rag doll. And on a nearby pier, Brian Young, the owner of Sea Horse Dive Shop, found his business sinking in the sea.

Brian Young, Placencia Resident
“Fortunately, I was in Belize City this morning so I felt the tremor in Belize City as well. Immediately my son called me and told me damage and I head down to Placencia and was here about six o’clock this morning.”

Jose Sanchez
“What kind off damages you had?”

Brian Young
“Well, unfortunately, if you can look at the dive shop, the dive shop totally submerged from where it was. I think we drop about four feet and all the posts just went right down like some other building on the mainland. It just went right down and we were unfortunately, one of the people that suffer that consequence.”

J Bird’s special drink of the day was the “Fault Line,” a homage to the cracked floors and gaping space between the bar’s walls.

Elbert Burgess, employee, J Bird’s
“We suffer a lot. Right now yoh could si di door gone, di floor gone, around di bar gone and thing. Last night we couldn’t tek it because we get frighten, me and my gial and we just feel di vibrate and we get frighten. So we get up and everybody get up and watch wah rounds check up. Dis morning I get, come walk mi lee dog and thing and when I come I just check out di place fi boss lady and si dis gone and everything.”

The concrete floor of VJ Vegetable Shop appear to have been pried apart from dark depths. And next door, workers from V and V Supermarket were restocking the shelves with goods that fell on the floor.

Monica Jimenez, Co-owner V&V Supermarket
“I get up, I see my family upstairs of my business then I see my house shaking then I fraid for my pickney and I tell my husband hurry, hurry mek I go. I fraid fi mi pickney. [speaking in Spanish…]”

Jose Sanchez
“A lot of things fall off the shelves?”

Monica Jimenez
“All ah dehn coming from di floor.”

Residents continue to clean and repair the damages. The tremors took the peace of the night, but did not rob any resident of life. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

The village chairman believes they will have running water soon.

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