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Aug 22, 2011

Tropical Storm Harvey passes over “like wah lee breeze”

Harvey made landfall at midday on Saturday, earlier than forecasted, but weakened considerably as it hit Dangriga. The predictions that it would turn into a hurricane quickly dissipated along with the storm. Most areas in its path did, however, experience heavy rains, but damages are minimal. Shelters were opened but few were occupied. Our News Five team headed south, but met the folks at ease.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Tropical Storm Harvey, the eight named weather system to form in Caribbean waters since the start of the 2011 hurricane season, made landfall off the coast of Dangriga just before noon on Saturday.  Along with the tempest came a torrential downpour as well as winds reaching a maximum speed of fifty miles per hour.  But, unlike Hurricane Richard which ravaged northwestern Stann Creek and central Belize districts in October of last year, little was left in its wake.  In fact, in Dangriga proper where some homes and businesses had been secured there was nothing happening.

Dennis Gonguez

At the police station in the heart of town a flagstaff flew the tropical storm warning, the red and black flag lazily moving to and fro in the moderate gust.

Dennis Gonguez, Chief Meteorological Officer

“Tropical Storm Harvey made landfall at around midday today or shortly after midday today and it moved inland and continued to weaken.  It’s presently heading towards our western border and in a much more weakened state.”

Despite preliminary forecasts the passage of TS Harvey brought little damage to communities within its trajectory.

Noreen Fairweather

Noreen Fairweather, NEMO Coordinator

“The reports that we have gotten from our folks on the ground [is that] there has certainly been no major damage.  People got wet [and] some people had, you know, a bit of leaks and so on in their roof.  They discovered them if they didn’t know they were there before and we did get some little pooling of water in various areas primarily because of the heavy rainfalls as the rain went through.”

On George Price Drive near the entrance to Dangriga a single tree had been uprooted.  Responding quickly was a team from the District Emergency Management Organization that wasted no time in removing the debris off the street.  Elsewhere in town residents also reported overturned plants in their yards.

Dennis Gonguez

“We were expecting something like that, pretty much winds of about fifty to sixty miles per hour winds.  It was just before making landfall I must point out that it started to develop a closed banded feature around the center of circulation so if it had a little bit more room we would have seen a hurricane at landfall.”

Along the Hummingbird Highway at Silver Creek the undercurrents were raging.  In a few days it is expected that other rivulets and waterways will swell their banks as the overflow makes its way downstream.

Isani Cayetano

“What can we expect in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Harvey as it regards to flooding and what have you?”

Dennis Gonguez

“Okay, the rains will cause some flooding because we’re still anticipating [and] we’re having some showers around the country right now and the rains over in nearby Guatemala in Peten will cause the Mopan River to rise.  So we’re looking at some flooding coming up in the next day or so.”

According to National Emergency Coordinator Noreen Fairweather whom we also caught up with at the NEMO Headquarters in Belmopan, notwithstanding the freak twister in the northern Belize District, the weather system came and went as expected.

Noreen Fairweather

“From the reports on the ground so far the storm passed and it was no major event.  [The] tropical storm and what was expected was basically what we experienced.  So we’re not really surprised.  In terms of persons in shelters, most people have returned home and a few people, I believe we have people in shelter at Sittee River, they are saying they are quite prepared to go home this evening.  It’s right in the community, as we indicated earlier they are sheltering within their community so they’ll be going home.  In the Belmopan area we have a family, a small family, they’re also in shelter and they should be going home.”

While residents living along the path of Tropical Storm Harvey were mostly unaffected by its progress inland the same cannot be said for those living in Crooked Tree and San Lazaro where a vortex associated with the wind patterns of the cyclone destroyed a few properties. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Harvey moved on to Guatemala, where it further lost strength.

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