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Nov 2, 2001

Bze photographers feature Iris

Story Picture As
residents of the communities affected by Hurricane Iris continue to piece
their lives back together, it would be easy for the rest of us to forget
what they have woken up to every morning since October eighth. But two
Belizean photographers have teamed up with the Image Factory to produce
a photo essay of the storm’s aftermath. Here are their pictures of the
south.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting

The faces of the victims of Hurricane Iris each tell a story. Stories so powerful, one observer was moved to tears.

Marian Martinez

“I can’t really explain that feeling at all.”

Janelle Chanona

“Do you known anybody down there?”

Marian Martinez

“Yes, a few people from Independence and Seine Bight. I’m not really familiar with the Indian communities.”

Janelle Chanona

“Why it is so hard for you to see these pictures?”

Marian Martinez

“Because it could have been us too. And for people who are struggling to have something today and not have anything tomorrow, we can’t even imagine how these people are feeling right now.”

Richard Holder, Photographer

“I think the people were so sad. Nobody protested, I just walked and I found people sitting down, looking depressed and they just froze.”

For photographer Richard Holder, seeing the devastation through the lens of his camera made it seem all the more surreal.

Richard Holder

I didn’t even have enough time to absorb it. I was just, these pictures were just…I was just walking and I found them constantly. Everywhere I moved I could see a picture, there was always some destruction, something sad. People looked very miserable, a lot of property destroyed; everywhere there was just a lot of destruction. Once you got there, I could have spent more than a week and I would still be shooting down there right now. By the time I finished, I was just fed-up with seeing destruction. I have seen enough, and that was only two and a half days.”

Particularly gripping is the photograph of two young children from Seine Bight Village.

Richard Holder

“I was just walking through someone’s yard and I came across these kids. I didn’t tell the child anything, they were sitting just like you see them, so I got down and put my camera, and the baby didn’t smile. Most of the time when you shoot kids, they want to smile and do little things, most of the people I photographed, were just stone-faced.”

The pictures taken by Norris Hall focus on the structural damage done by the storm. Hall says it was hard not to get emotional in the face of such a disaster.

Norris Hall, Photographer

“The environment I saw was a Belizean people, who have been resilient. And as I travelled through the area I saw people who despite that fact that there were devastated by the hurricane, were quite prepared to get up and bounce back. That was encouraging to for me.

I was detached, quite frankly. I saw the devastation, I was probably interpreting what I saw before I press the button on my camera. I had a preconception of what I wanted to document and I went about doing that the best way I could. But I could not allow myself to get caught up in the emotion of the moment because that would have distracted me from documenting what I wanted to document.”

The veteran photographer was amazed at the destruction done to the environment.

Norris Hall

“While we were travelling to Monkey River looking at the forest, some huge trees were just fragmented. That said a lot, that was really a powerful storm. What it did to those trees, just made them appear to be toothpicks.”

Richard Holder

“I wish I could do more. When I went down there I was giving away ten dollars to everybody. But I don’t know what good this will do for them down there. I think It’ll do us here in the city, and hopefully not just us, but people who pass through here, to get a chance to see these pictures and get an idea of how bad some of these people have it down there.”

Reporting for News 5, I am Janelle Chanona.

The pictures are for sale. Half of the proceeds from their sales
will be donated to the Hurricane Iris Relief Fund. The Image Factory is
also selling “Iris”, a booklet that includes some of the photos in the
exhibit as well as the Prime Minister’s speech on recent world events
and Hurricane Iris delivered on October fifteenth.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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