Embedded in Corozal, Journalist reports on Hurricane Ernesto
An all clear was declared this morning for the entire country. Tonight Ernesto has weakened to a tropical storm and is moving across the Bay of Campeche, Mexico. Ernesto made landfall on Tuesday night at around ten o’clock. As it hit the Yucatan coast, the winds of eighty-five miles per hour and rain of the category one hurricane were felt in the northern district. Reporter Duane Moody and cameraman, Victor Noble, braved the weather conditions and file this report.
“It’s approximately nine p.m. here on Miami Beach in Corozal Town; the waters have been pulled back and the trees are shaking vigorously and that is because we are currently experiencing winds of about forty miles per hour. Now Hurricane Ernesto has not made landfall as yet, but it is expected to do so in about thirty minutes somewhere around Mahahual in Mexico. What we can tell you is that there are now three hundred and one persons currently in the shelters; namely C.C.C., which has been opened to residents of Corozal Town.”
Willard Levy, NEMO Coordinator, Corozal
“From since we saw what has been occurring for the past two hours, yes we do have persons in the shelters. Approximately we have about three hundred and one persons are in the shelters right now and we expect that there might be more person in the night.”
“Are you expecting it to get worse? What kinda winds are we seeing right now; what kinda conditions are we seeing right now and do you guys expect it to get worse? And is NEMO prepared for the worse?”
“In terms of worse, we do not expect that because it is already starting to do landfall. We are expecting some increased winds. But what we are basically doing is monitoring the movement of people coming into the shelters on a regular basis—every half an hour we get into with the different shelters to identify if there is any increase of people going in.”
“In Corozal Town, we have been receiving phone calls of certain people that cannot make it to the shelter, but needs assistances. I am personally here taking care of business when it comes to Corozal Town.”
The heavy rains and strong winds continued throughout the night until daybreak. Further north at Consejo Village; winds were stronger and the roads were being covered by torrents. Distress calls were taken by NEMO Corozal. The town’s mayor said the shelters took a total of three hundred and eighteen persons.
“We have an emergency plan in place that took off immediately as the storm progressed or approached us. We had maintained the people well-informed; we tried to communicate with them through the local media houses, the radio stations. The acting chairman of NEMO, the chairman is out, but from when we activated from about a couple days ago, we maintained the public well-informed. Now locally in the Corozal municipality, fortunate for us, the storm took a northern direction rather than coming directly to us. The major concern was at district level at the flood prone areas—Sarteneja, Chunox and Copper Bank, Consejo—but again we are very fortunate that we are not being affected when it was Dean.”
Mayor Hilberto Campos referred to August 2007’s Hurricane Dean, a category one system that took a path similar to Hurricane Ernesto. Dean had devastated the town and destroyed agricultural crops. Campos said that the residents were fearful that Ernesto would do the same.
“I think that nationwide the fear was there for something like that to happen. Again I have to mention that we are fortunate that so far we haven’t had that kind of reaction. Corozal town, the priority would be saving lives—that’s our number one priority—but nationwide, the fear was there that the hurricane would have caused more damage than it is causing at this moment. However, I keep mentioning that it is not over yet and we will be monitoring it as far as it goes.”
As early as six this morning, the all clear was given to Belize City and the southern part of the country; but a tropical storm watch was still in effect for Orange Walk and Corozal Districts. At ten, the all clear was finally given for the northern towns. NEMO Coordinator, Willard Levy says that the damages were minimal. He accredits this to the success of his emergency preparedness team that was in full swing for the past thirty-six hours.
“We had the damage assessment committee went out to do some assessment of any possible damages. We haven’t heard of any structural damages as epr say, but what we have heard of is some crop damages. What we suspect is that there might be an amount of cane damage.”
“I know there were some trees that were down on the highway, on certain streets within the town.”
“Well that the Town Board takes care of that; they do a clean up after that. And any one on the road, the Ministry of Works does that.”
From ten on Tuesday night through to one p.m. today, several villages and areas within Corozal and Orange Walk Districts were without electricity. Duane Moody for News Five.
Later in the newscast, we’ll have the impact on the productive and private sector up north.