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Dec 20, 2000

Islands well on road to recovery

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The horror of Hurricane Keith has largely receded in the frantic preparation for the holidays, but as Christmas approaches we decided to take one last look at how things are going on the two islands that bore the brunt of Keith’s fury.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

When we visited the island of Caye Caulker, most of the debris that had filled the streets was gone and residents were busy rebuilding their homes. Worried looks were replaced by smiles as life on the island is returning back to normal. One encouraging sight was the large number of tourists on the caye, who were bringing some much needed cash to the businesses who had suffered losses due to hurricane Keith.

Patty Arceo, Area Representative

“The islanders are not just relying on a handout from government or the private sector, they are doing what they can on their own. They are building up their own houses, they are coming around going to the different lending institutions to see how they can contribute also to the rebuilding of both islands.”

In the spirit of Christmas, some islanders have gotten together to help others have a bright and merry holiday.

Tina Auxillou, Resident

“Actually Jackie one day a couple of us were sitting across the street at Yoo Hoo and we were talking about how a lot of people on the island after the hurricane started painting their houses, those who could afford it anyway and we were just looking around and we know that this lady she is a single lady she is in her seventies and she does not have a lot of money, so we thought maybe it would be nice as a Christmas present to get a couple of us together and get donations and paint her house for her. So that is how this got started.”

In Caye Caulker, one of the hardest hit areas was the back of the island. Today, not only is the area being rebuilt but new streets are being constructed from sand that is dredged from the sea. Prior to Keith, the residents had no road access. Now they will be able to move more freely, to and from their homes. The school children will also have a lot to look forward too when they return to school in January. The primary school, which was used as a hurricane shelter, was greatly damaged but is being well repaired.

Fermin Marin, Chairman, Caye Caulker Village Council

“They will be putting on a new top, new roof, re-plastering, new bathrooms. As a matter of fact we will be putting in about eight new bathrooms along with showers so it can serve in the future as a multipurpose building, as a hurricane shelter. What we experienced in this hurricane is that the bathroom facilities there is only two of them upstairs and with two hundred people that was a big problem.”

While the island is being cleaned up one major eye sore still needs to be cleared. The island’s only dumpsite located next to the airstrip, has not only been an unwelcoming sight for tourists but has been creating a problem for the pilots as well.

Fermin Marin

“As you can noticed behind my back there is just a small hill in the back there that was about ten times the height of that there about ten times the height there. Immediately after the hurricane all the garbage that was in Caye Caulker, this was the site where it came.”

“Landing in Caye Caulker you see garbage, taking off you are seeing garbage. We hope that someday or in the early future, someone is watching us to get a barging system out so we could get this garbage out of here. ”

“Somewhere we could get it out of Caye Caulker because for a small island it is very unhealthy especially when we are talking about tourism. The number one thing with tourism is a healthy environment, so we don’t want a garbage dump on it.?

Jacqueline Woods

?So what is the Village Council doing right now to address the situation.?

Fermin Marin

?At the moment we are doing, down that end, we have like a lagoon it was dug out when we built the runway so it’s a big hole, so what we are doing is to push it out and dump it in that hole.”

One thing the villagers would like to see on the island is a fire truck. During Hurricane Keith the island?s only tender was submerged in water and is no longer working. Although the Village Council has since received a portable water pump it was put to the test when the first fire following the hurricane broke out early Monday morning. The blaze completely destroyed the Star Guest House.

Fermin Marin

“So when I responded to it I had to get friends and see if we could get a vehicle to mount the pump and bring it to the area where the thing is right and that is how we tried to contain the fire so it wouldn’t spread. As you noticed the walls of those buildings had started to scorched, so we definitely need a vehicle, a fire truck to mobilize and speed up any movement where a fire needs to be attended to.”

Meanwhile over in San Pedro, the rebuilding continues. School buildings are being repaired and better equipped so they can be used as hurricane shelters.

Patty Arceo

“What we are actually doing is pumping close to a hundred and fifty thousand for the rehabilitation of the San Pedro primary school to ensure that it is properly fit to be used as a hurricane shelter. In addition to that we are also building behind us a walkway because the traffic situation, whether it is people or vehicle it is very congested so we have to try and put proper walkway for our people.”

While most of the streets in San Pedro have been cleared of debris and streets are being resurfaced plenty of garbage still remain in people’s yards. Arceo says due to a lack of resources it is impossible for them to immediately clean up the mess. Instead she is encouraging residents to take the time to clean their yards. Arceo says she is most grateful to the government and other agencies who came forward to help both islands.

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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