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Jan 26, 2006

Rockview evacuated as floods hit Sibun Valley

Story PictureOn Tuesday we brought viewers dramatic footage of massive flooding on the Western Highway. But while that road is no longer wet, the waters that covered it are now working their way east… and tonight villagers in Gracie Rock are living the aquatic life usually reserved for hicatee and iguana. Not even rubber boots could help News Five’s Jacqueline Woods, who once again confronted the rising tide.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
When News Five arrived on the scene, the last bus carrying patients from the Rockview Hospital was making its way through the floodwaters. The road, which also leads to the quarry and Gracie Rock Village, was submerged. Although the water had not yet covered the institution?s grounds its management took no chances and started to evacuate.

Fred Smith, Manager, Central Health Region
?About eight o?clock I was called from Rockview saying, okay the water has now reached the quarry. So immediately we put our plans into action, but the water is rising so rapidly. It is unbelievable just how quickly the water has just taken over.?

Forty-five patients were relocated to the M.C.C. Grounds dormitory. Central Health Region Manger Fred Smith says since the heavy rains earlier this week they have been monitoring the situation and preparing for the rising water that is expected to continue over the next two or three days.

Jacqueline Woods
?Now at the dorm, how will the patients be taken care of? Is everything in place to see that they remain at the dorm??

Fred Smith
?Yes. The workers are there, we have called out the workers who are on shift so that we have all the full contingent out there. Food will be prepared. We have everything, everything has been taken care of to make sure the patients are well taken care of and they don?t get agitated, because they are ill people. We have all the medication, the psychiatrists they are standing by.?

Only a small number of staff remained at the institution to collect the supplies for transport.

As we continued to watch the water rise, it was not long after before we saw this front end loader ferrying workers from the Belize Aggregates Quarry and employees from a tourist facility further up the road who managed to make it out by canoe. This tour guide says he is not sure just how many residents remained in Gracie Rock Village, but that the water in the area was several feet high across the road.

Alfredo Tun, Tour Guide
?Back there looks very bad. The water is still rising up and as we left back there, a part of the road it?s approximately six feet, five feet on top of the road right now.?

Jacqueline Woods
?Are people stranded to the back?

Alfredo Tun, Tour Guide
?Not really because these villagers that live back there they already know what?s going on. It?s not the first time that they are having a flood, so they are already prepared for it.?

The village residents were reportedly inside their homes waiting for the water to recede. A security team consisting of the Belize Defence Force and police personnel was dispatched to the stricken area to do reconnaissance both by air and land. To see just how high the water had risen and how the Gracie Rock villagers were managing, we decided to join them and venture out into the flood waters… thanks to the kind services of the quarry management, who transported us on their front end loader. As the heavy machinery made its way through the water, we were amazed at just how high the flood had risen and covered the land around us.

As we slowly approached the quarry site, it soon became clear that not even the heavy equipment could venture any farther and we were unable to make to the village. On our return we noticed that the water had started to fill the institution?s compound and the employees who had stayed behind were waiting for transportation.

The waters also affected the Youth Cadet Corps and Youth Hostel situated at the road?s entrance by mile twenty-one on the Western Highway. Chief supervisor Glendamae Martinez says while they are prepared to evacuate, they have not yet had to move any of their residents. The water, however, had flooded the back of the compound, forcing them to move their animals to higher ground

Glendamae Martinez, Chief Supervisor, Youth Hostel
?Well first of all we had to move our pigs and chickens that we have in the back. We had planned from since Monday if we need to evacuate, we knew exactly what we need to do. And if in the event we have to evacuate from the youth hostel we know where to go.?

While some people were moving away from the flood, others enjoyed playing and swimming in the water. But as they soon found out, there were all kinds of creatures seeking dry land…like this three foot long rattle snake. Jacqueline Woods for News Five.

The Rockview patients will remain at the M.C.C. dormitories until the floodwaters have receded.

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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