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Oct 5, 2000

City’s homeless in long term shelters

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While power and communications have still not returned to the hurricane ravaged islands of San Pedro and Caye Caulker, emergency relief measures are beginning to kick in and we are informed that a certain rhythm of life–albeit a hard one–has returned to those islands. For the moment the focus of concern has shifted inland, where rivers, particularly in the north, have overflowed their banks and threaten to isolate dozens of communities. We have a team in the field and hope to have that report by the end of this newscast. In the meantime, here in Belize City electricity has been restored to all but a few isolated parts of the grid and cleanup crews have been out in force. But there are still some lingering problems.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

For most residents of Belize City, life in the wake of hurricane Keith, is slowly returning to normal. But most is not all…and I found out this morning there are still plenty of people without homes to return to.

Lillette Barkley Waite, Organizer, NEMO, Belize City

“Jackie, things are not very pleasant. In my underground assessment that I have been doing for the last two days I can tell you. I have at least 11 to 12 homes that are totally demolished, we are looking at roofs that are sitting on the ground with the house crumbled underneath the roof. We have about another 14 homes that are inhabitable because of structural damage, and that is not counting the other homes that have been damaged, but are liveable with little repairs or with medium amount of repairs.”

One area that was most affected is the Port Loyola Division. Errol Brown and his family of 6 who live at number 5 J.R. Street, are tonight staying in a makeshift shack after their one storey wooden house collapsed.

Errol Brown, Hurricane Victim

“The damage we sustain, we lose everything. The house, the TV, the only thing we have is health and strength from the Father.”

Jacqueline Woods

“What are you doing right now to survive?”

Errol Brown

“My girlfriend went to work and I am at home minding the kids and trying to put things together.”

Jacqueline Woods

“So you all are staying right here?”

Errol Brown

“Right over there in that little shack, 4 kids and my girlfriend.”

Presently the Rogers Stadium has been established as a long-term shelter for those city residents who are without homes. That shelter is already full to capacity and there are plans to prepare another building for several more families who have nowhere to stay.

Lillette Barkley Waite

“Presently Jackie I would not like to publicly announced where that shelter will be for the main reason that we would like to processed people and place them rather than have them arbitrarily go to those shelter. So a processing centre has been set up at the Community Participation Office in the Commercial Building on the 3rd floor. The telephone number is 73830. They will be processed through there and then directed to the next shelter which is presently being prepared.”

Barkley-Waite says there are 7 more families who need a place to stay. Presently, 60 people are at the Rogers Stadium including Yolanda Muschamp and her daughter. Yolanda says she was sheltering at the Gwen Lizarraga High School when she received word that her house had fallen down.

Yolanda Muschamp, Hurricane Victim

“My neighbor come tell me that it dropped, so I went to look at it and I found that it fell in the mud. When I opened it, water flooded out everything out of it.”

Jacqueline Woods

“So you house is presently submerged in mud and water.”

Yolanda Muschamp

“Yes. The bottom of it sank. The flooring is in the mud and a lot of mud is inside and water inside is at knee level.”

There is a management team at the shelter, which is in charge of seeing that the hurricane victims live as comfortably as possible.

Lillette Barkley Waite

“The long term shelters are being managed, but from my stand point the long term shelters are being managed by people who have been trained and the people are very cooperative. We have to make the living conditions as comfortable as we can because it is going to be long term.”

A complete assessment of the damage that occurred in Belize City has not been completed. Waite says NEMO is presently working on that information. As soon as they have collected the data a report will be submitted.

To make matters worse, the whole of Belize City as well as communities on the Northern Highway, have been without water for most of the day. According to a spokesman for the Water and Sewerage Authority, there was a break in WASA’s 24-inch transmission pipe near mile thirteen on the Northern Highway. A crew has been trying to replace the length of pipe since morning and they are expected to have it fixed by 7:30. Even if they do, water pressure will not return to the city mains before 10:30. This means that residents, already used to hurricane altered hygiene, will probably spend one more night without a bath.

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