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Jun 20, 2022

NEMO Orange Walk Hits the Ground in the midst of Unprecedented Flooding

Late into Sunday night the National Emergency Management Organization, NEMO, opened a flood shelter in the village. The team over at NEMO Orange Walk has been on the ground since Sunday afternoon assessing the damages and needs of the affected households.  As for the residents we spoke to in Carmelita, they are pointing to poor drainage and an elevated Phillip Goldson Highway, as factors that contributed to the extraordinary flooding.  News Five’s Paul Lopez reports.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

Apart from the heavy rainfalls that most of the country experienced over the weekend, the residents we spoke with in Carmelita Village also blame the flooding on poor drainage and an elevated Phillip Goldson Highway.


Leonel Gallego

Leonel Gallego, Resident, Carmelita Village

“Ih look like lee bit of the drains need fih clean out. Twenty nine years I live yah and nothing happen like that. I think deh need fih move deh yah dirt right yah. Dehnuh move that I think that’s what caused the water to come.”


Audrey Pyne

Audrey Pyne, Resident, Carmelita Village

“I think the culvert here is too small, and the water that was coming here couldn’t come through fast enough and it just keep getting higher and higher and it saturate the ground because of the pressure and everything and the fence fall.”


Paul Lopez

“Do you think the highway had anything to do with it?”


Audrey Pyne

“I do believe the height of the highway caused the water to run down, and then maybe the drains are not clean enough and I definitely know this culvert is too small that is here, because I watch it and the water can’t come through fast enough , so the water just keep rising.”


These are issues that Victor Polanco, the Chairman of Carmelita Village, says were raised with the contractors who recently rehabilitated that portion of the highway which runs through the village.


Victor Polanco

Victor Polanco, Chairman, Carmelita Village

“First of all it makes me very sad to know that something like this would happen and it happened just so rapidly. From what I have heard from the other villagers, this has never happened before. It was a lot of water coming down. So people were not expecting it.”


Paul Lopez

“There are people that are saying that the highway is a contributing factor to the flooding because of its elevated level. It is something I think we have addressed it before. We even had a public meeting when the people in charge of doing the highway for here. I knew that our villagers were requesting better drainage. So, I think that is something that can really be looked on, better drainage close to the highway.”


When our news team arrived at the NEMO Headquarters in Orange Walk Town on this morning, Juan Leiva, NEMO’s District Coordinator in Orange Walk, was preparing to deploy three teams into some of the most affected areas to conduct assessments. Selina Sanchez was dealing with logistics in Carmelita Village.

Selina Sanchez

Selina Sanchez, Logistics, NEMO Orange Walk

“We have noticed that their complete kitchen was destroyed. We saw one in the case where all their groceries were destroyed. So, our first initial would be to provide them with lunch. We have the Baptist Church here in Orange Walk that has called the NEMO office to provide some food. So that is the first step we are going to do for this morning.”


Other areas in Orange Walk District that were affected by Sunday’s flooding included San Jose, San Pablo, Santa Martha, Trial Farm, and some of the main streets in the town itself. Juan Leiva and his team at NEMO have been on the ground over the last twenty-four hours.


Juan Leiva

Juan Leiva, District Coordinator, NEMO Orange Walk

“We did an assessment. We took three teams out. Based on our assessment, we decided it would be prudent to open two shelters, one at Carmelita and one at San Jose Government School.”


Paul Lopez

“This is unprecedented like you have said. How much of it is climate change and how much of it is poor upkeep of drainage?”


Juan Leiva

“I would say poor upkeep of drainages; I think the Town Council, in the town, is doing a good job. I think it is more of the people who are not civic minded anymore. We have lost that civic pride where we decide I am walking, I am eating something, I throw it on the street, and you know one, two, three persons throwing things on the street, it accumulates, and that is what causes the drains to clog. In terms of climate change, I think that has a big part, because we are seeing things we never seen before.”


All indications are that a slow-moving tropical wave will continue to affect the country. This will continue to support very wet conditions through to mid-week. Leiva says, his team is prepared to open additional shelters.


Juan Leiva

“Based on the assessment that will be done; when the team comes in we will set up a plan. We will do like yesterday. We did one and decided we need two shelters open. In this case, if we notice we need more shelters open then that will happen.”


Reporting for News Five I am Paul Lopez

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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