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Oct 30, 2008

Waters rise in the city, culverts cave in

Story PictureAnother News Five team covered Belize City and its environs where, as predicted, water levels keep rising. The waters have been creeping in slowly and Belama Phases Three and Four were among the first areas to be hit. Streets and culverts throughout Belize City are unable to sustain the rambunctious waters that are causing flooding everywhere. Duane Moody reports from the Northern and Western highways where certain areas were temporarily closed.

Duane Moody
“Various portions of the Northern Highway after the Haulover Bridge are currently under about six inches of water. As navigators drive through the waters they encounter submerged craters which have apparently slowed down the flow of traffic.”

“And as you can see behind me, the highway is not the only place that is being threatened by water. Business and residences along the highway are currently under about two to three feet of water.”

Duane Moody, Reporting
Upon reaching the scene at Mile eight and nine on the western highway, students, workers and commuters were stopped and others were walking through the waters to get to their destinations. The flow of traffic had been cut off. According to Minister of State in the Ministry of Works, Edmund Castro the flow of traffic will resume before midday.

Edmund Castro, Minister of State, Ministry of Works
“What we are observing in the background here is another culvert collapsed within a six hour period. We ran into a sink hole at mile eleven approximately shortly after twelve midnight. So what I did, I called the minister of NEMO, I called the Minister of Works and I rallied the troops to come out here and we worked all night last night and we resumed vehicular traffic at approximately five minutes to six this morning. On our way down some of our people observed the same thing is going on at one of our culverts at the mile nine area here. So we came here and by that time the traffic had bottleneck. So we tried to work with the different traffic flow and we got most of the busses and other vehicles out of the way and now we continue to make sure that we make another temporary crossing here at mile nine. So hopefully by midday this entire road will be opened back to vehicular traffic.”

It takes four hours to repair a culvert and according to Castro the culverts are in need of serious maintenance.

Edmond Castro
“All these culverts here, they are evident that they are badly in need of some kind of structural work and the replacement of culverts. I am very concerned about the safety of our highways as it relates to culverts like this and our bridges around this country. One such bridge that is of great concern to me is the Haulover Bridge which I believe will look similar to some of these dilapidated culverts. These culverts should have changed some two, three, four, five years ago.”

Cadet Henderson, C.E.O. Ministry of Works
“An assessment done two months ago indicated that some of them were critical and required replacement but we just didn’t get the chance to do it before the rainy season. But in this area most of them are concrete or plastic and those are in excellent condition. These metal ones are the ones that are failing.”

At the end of the day a causeway was built to facilitate the commuters to get to their destination by afternoon. C.E.O. of the Ministry of Works, Cadet Henderson explains.

Cadet Henderson
“We are strategically allowing small vehicles and the busses, we ask that passengers alight to reduce the loading and the industrial and commercial cargo is held back until we restore it with these boulders. The flooding is widespread. If it was localized our strategy would be different but as you can see there are at least six locations where water is crossing the road. And since the spread is more than a mile, by blocking this culvert it has very negligible effects on the pounding that is taking place because about thirty to forty feet of three inches that flows over the road approximates one of the culverts. So its capacity is considered negligible since in this area we have more than thirty culverts in one mile. We have three plans in place; one, we are acquiring some steal plates which will allow us to be able to respond more quickly if another culvert fails. Secondly, we have culverts that are being sent to this location as we speak but those will just be dropped by the site and we’ll be stockpiling in Ladyville. But the actual installation of the culverts, we’ll suspend that until the water recedes. But for now these boulders will suffice and will allow traffic to flow unobstructed.”

Duane Moody reporting for News Five.

The crossing was repaired by noon today and traffic was able to flow.

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