San Pedro and Caye Caulker evacuation
As we said at the top of the newscast, evacuations are taking place from San Pedro and Caye Caulker, bringing residents to the mainland. Residents from the cayes were transferred to Belize City today from where they are heading to higher ground. Most persons we met were calm and glad to get out of harm’s way. News Five’s Jose Sanchez was at the water taxi terminal in Belize City and has this report.
Jose Sanchez, Reporting
Residents of Caye Caulker and San Pedro came ashore to the Belize City to the Water Taxis hubs because NEMO called for an evacuation of both islands. Hurricane RINA loomed over the horizon. Despite the change to their routines, the evacuees were all calm and in good spirit.
Jolene Swift, Evacuee
“We are going to Belmopan because of the weather. It’s not too rough, ride in was pretty good. The situation is my kid just woke up and he is miserable. It was like seventy-two of us on the boat and I’m coming from San Pedro.”
“What was it like out there? What’s the movement like? Are people afraid or are they just following a mandatory?”
“Mandatory. Coming in just now, the boat was packed. NEMO is doing a pretty good job, San Pedro Express is doing a good job; everybody is attentive—everything is just perfect.”
“When it comes to your supplies, do you plan to get that in Belmopan?”
“It’s right there—everything is perfect. To bring in food from San Pedro it doesn’t make sense. We’ll pick up supplies and whatnot but clothes is enough. We are heading to Stann Creek. This is the first time that we’ve had to be evacuated from the island.”
Feona Myers, Evacuee
“I’m just coming from San Pedro going to Maskall to prepare for this weather. I am travelling alone for now. We came on the boat together but she is going to Dangriga and I am going to Maskall. I’m not afraid of the weather. I was kinda prepared for this so I’m just cool.”
And she had reason to be just cool. The hurricane tracking from weather.com projected a path that steered Rina from Belize. But throughout the day, islanders continued to slowly stream into harbor.The buses to that would take the residents to the UB gym in Belmopan had only a few people on board.
Claude Frazer, Chairman, Belize Bus Owners Coop.
“We are supposed to be out here on standby for the evacuation from the islands which BBOC is responsible for: Caye Caulker and San Pedro. We refuel the bus and are out here waiting for passenger from the island to proceed.”
“How many buses moving between Belize City and Belmopan?”
“Well right now we have six buses right now on standby and as you can see things is slow right now, but if the need arise we can definitely haul up a next four to six more. Passengers are coming in; some going to P.G., some want to go north and I was explaining to transport officer to when they are putting people on the boat from the island, try to send people that are going to shelters first, so that when boat arrives then from there you will have a bus full that the bus can get moving instead of people waiting too long on the bus.”
Lorenzo Lopez, Evacuee
“I’m coming from San Pedro.”
“How has this experience been so far with the evacuation?”
“Early this morning. We didn’t have any plans to move out. We live there, we are locals and usually we pass the weather in the island. We have been there for a couple hurricanes. But today, I am just planning to move out because of the kids; make it safer for them moving on to the mainly. It’s certainly been like a family trip instead of being afraid?”
“When it comes to supplies, are you ready?”
“Yes sure, I am taking my own supplies with me. I’m not looking to purchase anywhere; I’m taking mines with me. We not going to the UB gymnasium, we are heading to local family that we have in Belmopan. So we don’t wanna head to the gymnasium right.”
Even some tourists had to cut their holiday short.
Leah Baril, on Holiday
“It was very good we spent more of our time on Caye Caulker and it was very nice.”
“With the hurricane coming by and evacuations, did it affect your travel plans any at all?”
“No, not really. We left a little bit early, but it was beautiful when we left so. And it won’t affect our decision to come back. It’s beautiful, it’s sunny out today and we absolutely loved it here. The people are awesome, very friendly and we enjoyed our stay very much.”
Whatever its path in the next few days, RINA provides an opportunity for NEMO to test its preparedness. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.
The weather report will have more on Hurricane Rina later on.