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Feb 9, 2018

CitCo Struggles with Overnight Flooding

Overnight, heavy rains came down on Belize City and other parts of the country. The downpour immediately caused flooding across the city and water levels are rising in the Belize River Valley as well as the Macal and Mopan Rivers in the west. A number of communities are not accessible and in the city, residents today pulled out their rubber boots to make their way to work and school. Drivers were cautious as they traversed inundated thoroughfares. Millions of dollars have been spent on infrastructure and street repairs, so what’s causing the flooding? News Five’s Duane Moody speaks to CEMO Coordinator and files this report.


Duane Moody, Reporting

Several areas, hotspots across Belize City, were inundated today following a few hours of heavy rains overnight. Some streets had up to a foot of water, which would later overflow into the yards of residents. It’s a perennial issue that folks and City Council have been battling, trying to find a solution, even though the Old Capital is well-known to be resting below sea level.


Philip Willoughby

Philip Willoughby, CEMO Coordinator

“Since this morning, I have spoke with the flood mitigation unit at the council. We have been out taking stock of the hotspot areas that haven’t been serviced as yet through the routine management maintenance effort of the unit using the vacuum truck.”


One of the areas that is in dire need of servicing was near the intersection of Vernon and Johnson Streets in the south side of Belize City. Charles Butler and his tenants are up in arms because every time it rains, their property floods, up to three inches into their houses.


Charles Butler

Charles Butler, Resident

“I take it into my own hands and two-three years aback and I dig the whole drain here. I dig the drain and the water gone down, but it looks like the mud come back up to the top of the drain again; lone mud.”


Duane Moody

“So it is the clogging of the drains that’s why the water noh di go out?”


Charles Butler

“Correct, the whole clogging. If you open the base of the top, the manhole, and you look in there, you will see that the mud is right up to the top. And the water cannot go around and go to the gas station and go out. But if it clog that way, it can’t move, it will back up ina my yard.”


The vacuum truck has been going around in other areas, including Orange Street over the weekend, where personnel have been cleaning out the drains. The truck pneumatically sucks liquids, sludges, slurries or mixtures of sand and water without the contact of any mechanical equipment allowing the free flow of flood waters through to catchment areas.


Phillip Willoughby

“As soon as we’ve completed Orange Street; you know that is problematic. We’ve worked through that over the weekend and when that leg of the work is completed, our focus will be from Richard’s Sidewalk coming straight down into where it connects to the beginning of Vernon Street and Muscle Street, coming into this area here and that should be done over the next few days.  We’ve one, revisited the areas that were cleaned because we wanted to see how the drains are functioning and the weep holes are functioning. And with that said, the rains held up—the last I checked was about eight-thirty—it was still drizzling a bit thereafter, but it eased up quite a bit and with that, we should see swift progress in the draining of the streets and so forth.”


But while the city council, through its flood mitigation unit, have been working on cleaning out the drainage system and the canals, City Emergency Management Organization Coordinator Phillip Willoughby says that the issue is compounded by residents who do not dispose of their garbage properly, or mechanics and others who compound the problem.


Phillip Willoughby

“There are several factors that we have to contend with. One by natural design, you see the sand in the streets. When it rains, that sand flushes through the weep hole and fills up the drains and blocks up the culverts. Two, by manmade design, when we are filling these lots and human behavior and negligence of civic pride compounds the problem. And that is the reality that we have to contend with.  We have to respect the draining mechanism that exist, the draining tools that exist. And we can’t just set it aside and then when the rains come, we expect it to function. It won’t function if we are compounding the problem by being negligent in some regards or the other. Again, human behavior; throwing the trash and litter—a simple foam plate can block up one of the weep holes. It is only four inches wide, the entire circumference. Again it boils down to our behavior and how we treat the infrastructure. Mechanic shops, persons who own derelict and abandoned vehicles. If Mister Jenkins and the works crew and the vacuum truck which is extremely huge cannot access the manhole covers or the weep holes, how will they be able to clean the covered drains of even the earthen drains? Having bigger, larger, wider drains; those are constructed for a reason. They connect and interconnect for a reason. Again, we have residents from the city encroaching on these water catchment areas. Those water need to be diverted in some way or the other. And that means these manmade secondary water catchment will have to function as what would be the natural environment to deal with the smooth accommodating for the water to run off as quickly as possible.”


Duane Moody for News Five.

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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