Galen University under water…books and infrastructure destroyed by flooding
The National Emergency Management Organization has been issuing constant releases on the flooding caused by incessant rains. In the past weeks, most areas of the country have been inundated. This morning the focus was on the Cayo District, where residents of the Mopan and Macal Rivers were warned to evacuate if necessary. NEMO also reported a flash flood which affected twenty families in the Santa Elena area in the early hours of this morning. And there was another flash flood which caused serious damage to the George Price Highway near the Galen University, and also to the campus itself. Mike Rudon was in Cayo this morning and has the story.
Mike Rudon, Reporting
When we arrived in Santa Elena this morning and visited the area where the flash flood was reported, much of the water had already receded. But yards were still flooded and residents were busy trying to dry furniture which had gotten soaked. This pump on the road was doing its best to alleviate the conditions. But while much of the water is gone, at around two this morning this entire area, including the road, was apparently submerged.
Florencio Gonzalez, Santa Elena Resident
“Bout two this morning this flood come down. When I get up, I see water di run.”
“Right now we di stand up on dry land…all of this was water?”
“All of this was water; all down the street—from way up da top yonder so and way down. And all the yards fill up ina water. You got people weh mi got about twelve inches of water ina them house.”
“This dah the first time you see something like this?”
“First time. Always have water, lee bit lower than this but this time it is the highest it ever come.”
This morning, workers were widening and cleaning the drains to allow for free flow of water. But those basic measures will not suffice for faculty, staff and students of Galen University just down the George Price Highway. They were affected by a separate flash flood early this morning which caused severe damage to the road.
Lennox Bradley, Chief Engineer, Ministry of Works
“Early this morning about around two o’clock, we had a heavy downpour. And that heavy downpour caused several areas in the Cayo in the Santa Ignacio/Santa Elena to be scored. Here at Galen University, we have a four hundred foot section of the shoal, the edge of the rope that is deeply scored and quite dangerous to the motoring public. So we hope that the public exercise a lot of caution on the George Price Highway.”
The damage to the highway is bad, and so is the damage to the University campus. All this sand and gravel you see was pushed onto the school grounds by the furiously rushing flood which also covered the campus in about two feet of water.
Monica Chun, Director of Student Affairs, Galen University
“This morning, I got several calls from people around the area saying that they were experiencing a flood and that would have been probably between two-thirty and five o’clock this morning and I can’t really say how high the water was or what the whole experience was. But when I came in this morning, all the entire lower flat of the building was completely filled with mud or water in some instances. For example the library is completely messed up; the glass windows or doors completely broken. Books that we had on some of the tables in our tutorials are completely destroyed. So there is much happening right now on campus.”
This morning, faculty, staff and students were trying to clean up the mess. Part of that clean up included the heartbreaking work of trying to salvage books from the library, and throwing away others which were destroyed.
“I haven’t really done a complete assessment, but however I can see from the furniture itself in one of our classrooms those are completely messed up. Mostly in terms of the damages inside the classrooms, not much, but outside we could see in terms of the pipes running around, those are broken up to some extent. And then the furniture that we had outside for the students just to hang around under the palapas; those are completely gone.”
“From your experience or from what you have heard, has anybody experienced anything like this in this area?”
“Not really. Personally, I have not and in terms of the students that we have here assisting; they haven’t really seen anything like this ever or heard of anything. And even our international students who are here on campus assisting. This is the first time they are seeing something like this and the effects that it has been having on students here.”
Classes for the one hundred and fifty students enrolled here at this campus may have to be suspended until Monday. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Works is already moving into place to renovate the badly gutted road.
“The road edge has been somewhat compromise more than the road itself. And because of the safety concerns that we have, the ministry has the contractor mobilizing in the next hour to address this. And I would feel that by tonight most of it will be addressed and tomorrow it will just be the finishing work at the surface.”
There is no official word yet on what caused the flash flood at Galen, though speculation is that land clearing further upstream may have had something to do with it. Mike Rudon for News Five.