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Aug 29, 2007

Flooding rains submerge Belize City

Story PictureTonight there are more than a few people across the city singing rain, rain go away! In less than eighteen hours, over nine inches of water from a passing tropical wave have created flooding conditions in both Belize City and Ladyville. The situation caused the cancellation of TACA’s flight to El Salvador, forced emergency management officials to open hurricane shelters in the city and prompted schools and businesses alike to close their doors early. Our news crews have been on the submerged streets all day and we’ll begin our coverage in Ladyville.

Jacqueline Godwin, Reporting
According to the Belize Weather Bureau all modules have indicated that the tropical wave crossing the country would only bring two to four inches of rain. However the concentrated downpour overnight and most of the day have resulted in widespread flooding conditions.

Ramon Frutos, Acting Chief Meteorologist
“The exact estimate of how much rainfall it was going to dump in the area, we didn’t really had a clue that it was going to be so much. We were estimating probably two to four inches of rainfall which would have been normal with a system like this but this has accumulated over six inches over some spots, which is very unusual for a system like this to produce. However, because of its proximity with land, we were also expecting it to probably weaken as it moves inland, so that’s the reason we didn’t really elaborated a lot on the amount of rainfall that was going to fall. Indeed, we were expecting rainfall to occur from this, especially along coastal areas, but not the amount that we got today.”

Much of the rainfall in undated areas like Ladyville where parts of the Northern highway were under three to four feet of water. On our trip into the village we noticed significant erosion from along the river bank…the soil travelled in large chunks down the Belize River.

Rudolph Williams, Hydrologist
“In some areas, some of it is actual land soil that is coming out, and that can be from bad land use near the riverbanks and as I said, they saturated already and additional water caused it to become dislodged from the banks and go into the river.”

In Belize City, the rising waters overwhelmed residents and motorists.

Jacqueline Godwin
“Troy your entire house is flooded. When did you first notice the water coming inside?”

Tyrone Banner, Belize City Resident
“Well, I was going out this morning and I couldn’t go because it started to rain. So I went upstairs to the neighbour and I said ‘gyal’, I seh ‘dis weather look bad’, and we sat down and I waited to see if the rain was going to stop, and about a little after ten, I said ‘let me go downstairs and get the charger for my phone’, but when I came downstairs, the entire room was already under water.”

Emmerson Williams, Resident, Belize City
“Everywhere: the bedroom, the bathroom, the hall, the kitchen. I had to move some clothes, put it on the bed, cause they already getting wet.”

Even Channel Five’s newsroom did not escape the flood waters of Regent Street, forcing staff to raise furniture and attempt to stem the flow of flood.

Lloyd, Co – Owner, Macy’s restaurant
“Inside is flood right out, it’s terrible ..come and see this.”

Outside on the submerged streets, many vehicles to stalled as the water penetrated their engines which caused traffic jams on several main routes. All the major canals in the old capital also flooded and levelled off with the streets. And even as the city tries to cope with the excess water, experts say more rain is predicted for tonight and tomorrow.

Ramon Frutos
That system could have become better organised if it had remained out to sea or it was further away from the mainland. But because it was very close to the mainland, it could not get organised, so it just continued moving westwards and produced this amount of rainfall. I think the height of the flood has occurred already, most of it has occurred already. We expect another twelve to eighteen hours of showers to continue to occur, especially in the inland areas of the country as the system moves westward. So we could get another two inches of accumulation over some areas, including probably another inch or another inch and a half along the coast. So indeed, the water will not go down in a hurry because most of this water has accumulated because of probably clogged drains, maybe very poor flow of the water out into the canals. Even the canals have flooded because we alos had a very high tide today and that added to the flood.”

According to Frutos, Tower Hill located near Orange Walk Town recorded eight inches of rain. While less than four inches accumulated in Corozal, tonight the experts predict the showers in the north will increase overnight which may hamper relief efforts in those areas damaged by Hurricane Dean.

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