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Jun 1, 2020

Heavy Rains Result in Flash Floods!

Heavy rains over the weekend resulted in flash floods in a number of countries where deaths were recorded in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. According to the National Met Service, Belize experienced upwards of ten inches of rainfall as a result of a low pressure system that passed over the country. The heavy downpour on Friday night caused flooding in Mahogany Heights, Saint Matthew’s Village and other areas with flood waters covering portions of the George Price Highway.  Tonight, those flood waters have displaced thirteen adults and thirteen children who are now in a shelter in Saint Matthew’s village. On Saturday, residents reported that they experienced ten hours of heavy rains on Friday night which washed away crops, chickens and other belongings. Here’s the story.

 

Linda Young, Resident, St. Matthew’s Village

“For the past twenty-years I live up dah this village yah and we never face this before. This dah the worse it ever come.”

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Linda Young says that for the past twenty years she has never seen this kind of flooding in her neighborhood in St. Matthew Village. The village experienced ten hours of rain on Friday night – those rains blew into her house and also caused a creek behind her house to swell over and flood her neighborhood. When she woke up on Saturday morning her entire property was under water.

 

Linda Young

Linda Young

“Wata pan the step – way up to the third step the water mi deh so when I come out this morning dah straight inna the wata.   Right now, tell unu the truth gas tank dry; kitchen flooded with water; no fire wood deh wash out; no food upstairs. So, right now I down. All mi sheet, everything wet up; bed, mattress, everything wet up. Yes the rain mi di get inside and the zinc deh kinda nuh too good suh can’t take it.”

 

And the heavy rains also overflowed over the banks of other waterways and caused flooding in other parts of the village which displaced a couple families. Some of the flood waters also spilled out on the George Price Highway which posed dangerous conditions for motorists. Chairlady Esperanza Arriaza was called out early in the morning for help. She says it’s the first time she has seen this level of flooding in her village.

 

Esperanza Arriaza

Esperanza Arriaza, Chairlady, St. Matthew’s Village

“I have thirty-one years here in St. Matthew’s and I have never seen this kind of flood here in St. Matthew’s. It is the first time flood that happen in such a short period that was just an overnight rain. After ten hours that is when I could have had the opportunity to go out in the village and see the different areas that got affected. I was very shocked to see the areas that go affected with the flood that had never flood before.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“Do you know how many of your community members are affected right now?”

 

Esperanza Arriaza

“Well, with the rain, I would say about seventy-five percent of the villagers that are affected because basically even the people who live along highway are affected and they never flood before. I could have seen the flood all on the highway.”

 

Another property that experienced flash flood waters belongs to Minister of NEMO Edmond Castro. He was trying to move his cattle to high ground when we met him on Saturday morning at his farm. He says that flash floods are not new to the area but they are signs of the times.

 

Edmond Castro

Edmond Castro, NEMO Minister

“Whenever we have abundance of water that falls in this area, this creek sometimes flood like this. This morning it was extremely high. It is something that happens from time to time and we expect it to happen more often and more frequent because of climate change and otherwise. There was a time that this entire area here, there was no creek there, and because of the flash flood it washed away the earth and now making itself as a complete drain to the creek. So, this kind of thing will continue to happen and so we just need to learn to cope with it and see how best we could adjust to the new normal.”

 

And resident Annalee Young is still trying to wrap her mind around this flash flood. She says it would normally take days before they see this kind of flooding – but this one took ten hours. The rushing waters washed away her crops and other valuables including her chickens. Now she and her family, including four children, must consider moving into a shelter.

 

Annalee Young

Annalee Young, Resident, St. Matthew’s Village

“It nuh feel nice dah wah terrible feeling. Everything wet up right now; yard wet up; everything. Yes, I think we wah get more rain. The man say we wah get more rain so by dah morning we nuh know how it wah look so if it is like this right now by the morning we nuh know how it wah look.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“What all wash away from your yard?”

 

Annalee Young

“Well, I had my chickens deh; the fowl coop gone; I have lee plants from my garden and everything gone.”

 

Andrea Polanco

“You have any concerns going into a shelter especially with COVID-19?”

 

Annalee Young

“Hmmm…yes! I have lotta concern you know because they say feet apart; social distancing; and then everybody wah have to crowd up, so we nuh know how we wah do it yet.”

 

Five families, a total of twenty six people, have been relocated to the village’s hurricane shelter, the St. Matthew Government School. It’s the third night that these families are not able to sleep in their homes. On Saturday, NEMO workers and village council reps were doing assessments on the ground and making accommodations for the displaced families.

 

Esperanza Arriaza

“It is very alarming to us here in the village, as we can already see that it over flooded and we have people living under water already. This morning I had to visit a family that has water level to their bed already and they need to move. As for now, the water levels is going down but we are expecting more rain, hurricane season is here and we need to see what we can do.  We do anticipate that more families will be affected due to the fact that the waters will be rising more and coming more in the areas that are on high grounds. We are preparing right now for a quantity of families to come here to the shelter as we know that this rain will not stop.”

 

While the heavy rains were expected over Belize, Arriaza says that she believes that the situation was worsened by land clearings in the area. Here’s how she explains it.

 

Esperanza Arriaza

“As I was driving up the village this morning, I saw that the water is coming down from areas that have been cleared. So, the people who have cane fields have been clearing land and all these waters now are coming into the village and areas that are not known to be flooded are now flooding. We believe that all this land filling and filling of the creeks that are back there and actually took out the water from village, the water is diverting back into the village.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

 

As you heard in the story, the residents affected say that they are facing tough times with COVID-19 and now the flood has made things worse. If you can assist Linda Young, you can call 608-8153. You can reach Annalee Young at 607-2443.


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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