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Nov 4, 2019

45+ Families Affected by Flash Flood in Benque

A flash flood has displaced close to fifty families in the west. NEMO personnel have been on the ground since early this morning to help affected families. Reporter Andrea Polanco tells us more about the flood and what NEMO is doing to help the victims.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

This is what it looks like on the outskirts of Benque Viejo, many houses surrounded by muddy water. Many of the occupants are trying to pick up the pieces of what is left behind from an early morning flashflood. The rushing waters hit different neighborhoods in the Succotz and Benque area early this morning. In this one spot – near the Free Zone at the western border – almost fifty families have been affected. Single mom Marilyn Chan shares more about the frightening ordeal. She lost just about everything inside her home and now has to find shelter with her relatives.

 

Marilyn Chan

Marilyn Chan, Flood Victim

“We almost lost everything because the water was heavy and it burst through the windows, through the doors. I was alone with my daughter but I had a horrible experience last night. My mother was not here but her house was full. My washing machine was right here. But nothing is good anymore and we still can’t go in the house because everything is destroyed.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How frightening was that for you?”

 

Marilyn Chan

“For me it was horrible because it was just me and my small daughter. She is only five.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Did you fear that at the moment you guys could have died in there?”

 

Marilyn Chan

“Yes because for me it was way up. We couldn’t come out of the house but we made it. We called the police but they didn’t come.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How did you guys manage to get out?”

 

Marilyn Chan

“My uncle was there and he managed to take out my daughter and that is the way we came out.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“How do you pick up the pieces and continue on – what do you do now?”

 

Marilyn Chan

“I don’t even want to go in my house now – we went after the flood and nothing is good. My daughter can’t even go to school today.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Where are you guys staying – do you have a plan?”

 

Marilyn Chan

“Well, we are at my grandma’s house, which was flooded too. We really don’t have anywhere to go and we are just waiting to see. I am a single mom and so I am not sure what I am going to do.”

 

Approximately two hundred and fifty to three hundred persons were affected.  The water either washed away or destroyed their property inside their houses.  Raul Shish has been living in this area for less than a year. He escaped the rushing waters in only shorts. His plants and building materials are all gone in the flood.

 

Raul Shish

Raul Shish, Flood Victim

“We had a heavy rain last night and then in the morning it was about one, it was a surprise. At three o’clock the water came into my house. I have a lot of plants; tangerines, soursop, coconuts; two hundred and seventy five plants it washed away. I lose my tables, chairs. There is a hill and it came down and that was it. It destroyed everything in the house. Since three o’clock I haven’t slept. It is a big loss because I was working for the past eight months to build a house. My lumber, almost everything for a house, everything washed away including my table I bought two weeks ago. So, I lose about thirteen to fourteen thousand dollars. I don’t have nothing now.”

 

Since the early hours of this morning, NEMO representatives have been on the ground to do assessments and provide help for the affected families. NEMO Minister Edmond Castro says that the steady rains brought the flood waters down to this flood prone area.

 

Edmond Castro

Edmond Castro, Minister of NEMO

“This part of the country has experienced approximately four hours plus of downpour; heavy downpour. That caused problems for residents in this area. If you notice, the people affected are those in the flood prone area because the water rushed down from the mountains in the path going to the river. So, I think we will have to look at those people who will have to move because this will definitely happen again.”

 

But this is not the first time this area has experienced flash floods. Residents told us that four years ago they experienced similar conditions but not of this magnitude. Area Rep Erwin Contreras was on the scene today and he told us that he will have to explore a more permanent solution for some of these families.

 

Erwin Contreras

Erwin Contreras, Area Rep, Cayo West

“I think that is the best thing to do, the relocation, because this is a natural creek so it is a pity that they constructed here. So, we have to look at a plan because this creek goes for miles back and comes through this creek and flows into the Mopan River. So, we definitely have to look at relocating them and see how best we can help them because this will continue every time and with climatic change now things are getting worse now. So, we have to do something for them for the long haul.”

 

For now, NEMO is still doing assessments to determine the extent of the damage caused by this flood. Families are also being assisted with care packages.

 

Edmond Castro

“NEMO is assisting them with NEMO packages such as mattresses, food items, cleaning solutions and other materials that we can help them with immediately.”

 

In other parts of Benque Viejo, the waters covered the streets. In one church called Iglesia Calvaria, church members were chest deep in flood waters trying to save instruments and other items inside the church. The flash floods also caused damage to the Arenal road making it impassable earlier today. By early this afternoon MOW had already opened back the road. Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.


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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