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Nov 20, 2020

Flooding in Orange Walk; Family of Seven Seeks Shelter

Torrential rains over the last few days have water levels along rivers, streams and ponds way above normal and floodwaters are gushing into yards and in some cases, seeping into homes.  News Five has received reports of flooding in the cayes, once again in the west at Roaring Creek Village and across urban and rural Belize District.  But today, a News Five team headed north to Orange Walk where several villages have been drenched and water levels are up; the Emergency Operation Centre is up and running and shelters are open for those who may want to seek refuge from the deluge. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.  


Duane Moody, Reporting

Incessant rains over the past few days have impacted the entire country and there are reports of flooding from a number of communities, including the cayes. Today, we travelled north to Orange Walk where we found the Flores family staying at the Trial Farm Government School, a designated shelter. Ana Flores says that, along with her mother and five children, they voluntarily evacuated their house in the village as water levels rose quickly inside their yard and within hours, into her house and then her mothers.


Ana Flores

Ana Flores, Resident, Trial Farm Village

“In the house where we are staying it get flood so that’s why we needed to come out.”


Duane Moody

“How many of you guys are here?”


Ana Flores

“Five of us; it is my mother with three kids and I with two kids.”


Unlike others, Flores says that she made the decision sooner rather than later and without shame. While taking into consideration the COVID-19 reality, she is equally concerned about her family’s health.


Ana Flores

“We decided to come because my mom has a little child where he has down syndrome and so he always get sick on her. And the same case with my little baby. So whenever the weather is like this, he get sick and I don’t want him to get more sick ina di water and the cold and the mud over there at home.”


Duane Moody

“COVID-19; yo noh fraid fi that too?


Ana Flores

“Yes I do, but I have to have my kids safety too that’s why I barely come out for my kids to be safe.”


Duane Moody

“So how long you guys will be here?”


Ana Flores

“I don’t know. I am not so sure yet.”


Further north, in the twin villages of San Jose and San Pablo, on Thursday a portion of the Philip Goldson Highway was impassable by smaller vehicles; in fact, the gushing water pushed a vehicle off the pavement and into a ditch.

While the water level has receded somewhat, a number of properties remain inundated. What we saw today was the water already inside some homes while in other cases, just a few inches from entering the doors.


Edilberta Rodriguez

Edilberta Rodriguez, Chairlady, San Jose Village

“We had serious problems. We have some areas that are very low and we have some houses that were drastically floeded. We saw concerns of the people; some of the water was coming in and we got to speak to some of the villagers and they were concerned. So we had very high waters in our area. We had like about four of them that were concerned about getting water in their houses and practically, we were waiting calls for them. They wanted like late for us to go and rescue them, but we didn’t have the need to go, but we were conscious about what was happening to them. So people sometime will wait last minute, but we were ready for them.”


The Emergency Operation Centre in Orange Walk was activated earlier this week as rising water levels are being monitored. Backhoes are in operation in several areas – today in Trial Farm Village – where clogged drains are being cleared of debris to allow for the water to flow off.


Juan Leiva, NEMO District Coordinator, Orange Walk

“I got a call from the chairlady from Trial Farm that an area in the Black Water Creek was flooding so we took action; we went to see the area to do an assessment and we realised that we might have to open shelters. So I spoke to the chairlady, Miss Patty Witzil and we did open the shelter. The shelter is open presently as we speak. Two families are in there that needed to be evacuated. The problem there is that the drains were clogged up, but the Ministry of Works along with the town council managed to get heavy equipment there and they open up the drains and that is what has caused the water to recede a lot.”


The forecast is for the rains to continue through to next week and so NEMO District Coordinator for Orange Walk, Juan Leiva says that they are working closely with the village leaders who are on the ground to monitor the situation.


Juan Leiva

Juan Leiva

“We are monitoring the San Jose area; the left hand side of San Jose going in because there is a creek there that normally gets flooded. Normally one or two families will get affected there and we ask them if they get affected, the chairlady will open the multipurpose complex at San Jose. The San Jose Government School is on standby as well if the rain continues—which we are expecting because of a cold front that is passing. We just came from Douglas [Village]. We are monitoring the river and we see that it is rising slowly, but it is of concern. [For] Douglas, we have the San Pablo Government School as well as San Jose School ready to open for shelter if we need that to be opened.”


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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