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Aug 30, 2007

Clean up begins following flood

Story PictureThe good news tonight is that the rain has stopped. But now the tough job of cleaning up the mess left behind by the flood waters has only just begun.

Today like many Belize City residents, Troy Banner was hard at work cleaning his marley and rug after his floor was submerged under the foot of water that flooded his house on Cran Street.

Jacqueline Godwin, Reporting
“Troy, well at least we’re not walking on water to get inside your house today. Things are looking a little bit better, although there’s much cleaning left to be done.”

Troy Banner, Belize City flood victim
“Yes, a lot of work needs to be done. But this morning when I got up, last night water was still in the house, but this morning when I get up all was gone. So, I took up the rug and I threw it over the fence and to my surprise a little snake was in the house. But when we pick up the Marley and everything, it ran through the door. So I was very, I was afraid because I said ‘I don’t know if anymore is in the house’.”

Vilam Logan, Belize City flood victim
I try tek the broom and sweep out some, but noh everything come out, because like, all of the water deh under the Marley so I had to sweep like ih the come back u, you know.”

Today families across the old capital tried to salvage household furniture and other possessions damaged by the flood waters in low lying areas of the city.

Vilma Logan
“Mostly my clothes you know, my clothes mostly. You could goh pan the line and yoh wah sih how much clothes I have out deh. I have some new clothes ina wah bag, when I come I find the bag wet wet and everything spoil ina the bag. The barrel, all the clothes they spoiled in deh, the chair, mostly the chair them, yoh know.”

Jacqueline Godwin
“When we visited the house yesterday, there was a lot of water inside your home. What did you do to get rid of all this water?”

Vilma Logan
“We have to come and bail it out, you know. Tek cloth and mop it up, yo know. When I come last night, sih how I broke the thing weh I have to the bail it out, and soh I the bail it out the water the come in back.”

Troy Banner
“Well I noh sure bout the refridge because the water mih went so high, you know, the refridge have ih motor and stuff like that, and I think it got wet.”

After heavy rains transformed streets into rivers on Wednesday, by this morning the waters had receded.

According to Deputy Mayor Anthony Michael, despite recent works to improve drainage, the city simply could not cope with the nine inches of water that rained down on the old capital.

Deputy Mayor Anthony Michael, Belize City Council
“Once the rain stopped and the tide fell, it saw that the drainage system that we put in did work. And we drained the city very fast. I think the residents of Belize City are happy today. In some instance, saying that they thought that Belize City would still have a foot or a foot and a half of water, after seeing almost three feet of water on Princess Margaret Drive yesterday. A lot holes have formed. We were right on top of our game; we were patching before the rain came. Nevertheless, I would like to reassure the residents and visitors of Belize City that once the sun comes out—which is hopefully by tomorrow—you will see the tenacity and the will of the Belize City council out there tomorrow, during the weekend and at night. We ask the motorists and pedestrians to be a little bit patient with us and to give ways to the guys, because they will be working.”

According to Michael, crews are already addressing hotspots.

Deputy Mayor Anthony Michael
“These spots are on North Front Street. We found a culvert that is collapsed there. We are looking at that situation. The Jane Usher Boulevard because of the infrastructure that is going on in that area, nevertheless this is not about politics. The infrastructure that is being put in there will work and there is not enough culverts that the guys has put in as yet. They are putting in culverts and filling the streets and paving the streets, and all kudos to them. But because the infrastructure is not completed, there are some areas that have had blockage leading out seas and waterways. We are at presently cleaning those areas to help the water flow out very quickly. We found some blockage in the Northern Highway, some of the culverts that are across there that are going out to the sea, we have addressed that and that is the reason why the water has gone down very quickly on the Northern Highway. We know we have our engineers and stuff assessing the situation on the Western Highway. We thought that with the infrastructure project that is going on out there, that should have not had flood as what it did yesterday. So we are looking at that and seeing. But there is a lot of water that fell yesterday.”

And while most residents are enjoying relief tonight, those living in the area of Jane Usher Boulevard are still battling with excess water as the streets in that neighbourhood remain flooded. City officials hope the flood will be a wake up call to residents in preparation for the peak of the Hurricane Season in September.

Deputy Mayor Anthony Michael
“We are below sea level, and when hurricane comes we ask the residents to listen to the Met. Service. They are the ones advising CIMO and advising NEMO. What Mr. Ramon Frutos or anybody from the Met. Service tell us to do, that is what we’ll do. If they say evacuate the city, we will evacuate the city , but we’ll have everything in place for that.”

Vilma Logan
“So it kinda hard because then, I noh like live ina they kind ah mess yah you know. Cause outside wet, then in yah wet. Then when I come I have to the walk through water to yoh know.”

Jacqueline Godwin
“You plan to stay here?”

Troy Banner, Belize City Flood Victim
“ Well no, actually I’ll move from here because to be honest with you, we might have another weather before the hurricane season over and prevention is better than cure.”

Even though four shelters were opened to the public last night, only three families were housed at the University of Belize’s campus on Freetown Road as we understand that most of the residents severely affected by the flood waters chose to seek refuge with friends and family. Tonight the National Emergency Management Organization is reporting that localized flooding in the Orange Walk District resulted in twenty families having to evacuate to the Trial Farm Government School while another fourteen were housed at the San Pablo Community Centre. Everyone went back to their homes this morning however NEMO says the shelters will remain open until the situation returns to normal. The flooding has subsided in most areas of the north however we understand the New River continues to rise and could threaten homes in Caledonia Village. The weather experts are predicting a decrease in showers however the public is advised to stay tuned to the latest forecasts.

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