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Jul 1, 2008

Arthur victims rebuild, fear floods of coming tropical wave

Story PictureThe floods of Tropical Storm Arthur caught residents of southern Belize unprepared. Residents say they have never seen the waters rise so high and today News Five’s Ann-Marie Williams and cameraman Rick Romero retraced steps they made a month ago for an update on how the victims are rebuilding.

Ann-Marie Williams, Reporting
It’s exactly one month since the June first floods inundated southern Belize. Areas hardest hit were the Valley community, Hope Creek and Sittee River. Today we visited with three families to see how they have been coping.

When we last saw Polita Evelyn of Valley Community we found her trying to clean up her backyard and house which were literally under mud, water and stones from the nearby river. Today she has cleaned up her environment beautifully with no help she says, from the powers that be.

Polita Evelyn, Valley Community resident
“The help, we neva really have di help. Well, thanks to my church brothers well really come out and give me the assistance weh I mi really need. The cleaning up, right now we have the garbage weh we need fi dispose ah. We woulda really like need fi si di garbage truck come by fi pick up the garbage.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“So you’re saying the truck hasn’t come by since the flood a month ago?”

Polita Evelyn
“Yes, wah month ago. I still have my garbage to the back. Well, I mi ask Mister Bill fi mi come by, the public works man, fi mi come by and use di excavator fi just pull off the stone dehn weh mi deh behind my house but he seh as soon as ih fix di road, finish get the road up, ih mi wah come back yah come deal wid mi. so far I si busses di run so I guess di road dehn fix but I noh si nobody come—not even clean out di drains. Look at di drains how dehn stop up. As soon as ih rain, di water come right back up again and flood out my yard. I think the public works woulda really need fi come and come check di drains dehn, clean dem out. I si wah, dah no backhoe, but one ah di machines come by and scoop up di stuff dehn. Look weh ih do, scoop it up and put it right deh. We not even have wah drive way fi come inna the yard.”

Evelyn is still waiting on the chairlady of the village to make good on her promise, that of repairing her washing machine which was snake-infested due to flood waters.

Polita Evelyn
“I only understand that dehn mi wah got wah technician come round and round and check fi si weh ih coulda do about di things dehn cause dehn can’t replace dehn but dehn could help fi fix dehn. My one, si my machine to the back and my refridge on the veranda.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“You told me that you’ve gotten one to help you in the meantime.”

Polita Evelyn
“Well, thanks to my son who allowed me to have my machine and the refridgerator because we need fi store up wi meat. We noh have no grocery store nearby weh we could seh well go and just get wi food everyday, everyday, everyday. So we need fi stock up we food.”

Filberto Roches and his wife Veryle, lost their two year, nine month old son when baby Jayden was swept away from his father’s grasp as he sought refuge in throat-deep waters in Hope Creek. Today, life is not the same.

Filberto Roches, Lost Son in Flood
“I have many nights I can’t even sleep because I think about the way how he went or let go from me and dah something that I know that I noh wah really get over right now or couple months from now. But I pray and hope that someday.”

Roches vows he’s not going back to live where the tragedy struck.

Filberto Roches
“The Senator, which is Eddie Webster, they say that they’re going to build some houses six, seven feet high but I told them it doesn’t really matter how high you put it. You can put it as high as you want but I ain’t going back to live down that side. I have two losses down that side already.”

For Veryle, her baby’s death was a tough one. She was away in Guatemala City attending to her sick mother when she heard the bad news.

Veryle Roches, Lost Son in Flood
“It mi hard because I mi deh far away from home and di roads mi flood so I couldn’t reach home at the same time so I had to wait until di floods mi gone. And ih hurt because I neva deh yah at the time fi si ah at the last.”

Anne-Marie Williams
“You thought that you would have made a difference.”

Veryle Roches
“Yes. Ih just feel hurt dat I neva really deh round. Which in I couldn’t really do nothing bout it. ih just feel bad that I neva deh yah at the time.”

Sadie McKenzie was at home at the time in Sittee River Village when she saw the river wild rushing in to her view. A calmer McKenzie says she’s blessed.

Sadie McKenzie, Sittee River Resident
“It’s kind of hard, it’s tiresome and everything but we are trying to cope with it.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“You had a lot of stuff out here in the yard when we came the last time. How difficult was it to clean and move everything back?”

Sadie McKenzie
“It was really difficult but I had some good friends, Emerita and Delerita, they came from Dangriga and they helped me. Me and my husband and another guy that was here with us, he took his time and scrub off all those sofa, put them on the street to dry because the street carry a heat. We got them almost dry.”

Signs that life has returned to normal for the most part in Sittee River are evident. The windows of Paradise Mini Store are opened, the street is cleared of debris, the waters have long receded, and dogs that were only visible from treetops now roam free. The Red Cross is out making provisions for free pit latrines to residents.

Charletta Cassanova, Member, Disaster Team, Red Cross
“Matching the houses with who needs the latrine, graded from one to four. One means that they have none; total loss, two: they only have the foundation, three: they have the siding or four: that they need the roof. So that’s the way how we are doing it and mapping names with houses and numbers; putting numbers to the names.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“Just when residents of Hope Creek and Sittee Rive thought they were out of the woods, a tropical wave which threatened over the weekend brought back bitter memories, forcing many of the residents to pack and seek shelter.”

Sadie McKenzie
“I was in Dangriga. While I was going to town I saw all this water on the road and I call back my husband and I told him to pack up the things; build stand and put everything up because it seems like we’re gonna get the flood again. When I came from Dangriga I saw that he had everything up and I said well if the flood comes we don’t have much to lose this time because we know what could happen.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“You were scared?”

Sadie McKenzie
“Well, I don’t think so. I’m not scared because I study the prophecies and it tells us that these things will happen in the last days so.”

Lorenza Trejo, Hope Creek resident
“This weekend it started to rain from Thursday so Friday everybody get frightened and they start to look fi shelters. The chairman tell us that we supposed to go by the center but nobody want go dah di center because di center dah just like if yoh stay home. Di water raise three quarter way di last time when we had di flood so everybody scared no. but we have eight families who gone da di shelter. So now di people no want go dah di center, everybody want mek dehn open IT-VET but when we ask fi open IT-VET, dehn no want do it.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“Why not?”

Lorenza Trejo
“I noh know what dah di reason, what dah di problem, why dehn noh want accept us in di center but we really need fi mek dehn open di IT-VET.”

Teresita Bul, Hope Creek Resident
“I was trying to put my things up because we si dat how di flood di come up lee bit higher. I di try and save some clothes fi mek I put it up then I mi gone pan wah bucket an di slip off ah di bucket.”

And broke her hand. All because she was scared she would have been trapped. The waters in Hope Creek rose to three feet as a result of the rains last weekend. Ann-Marie Williams for News Five.

Meanwhile, the National Meteorological Service says that more showers and thunderstorms are expected tonight, the result from an approaching tropical wave. This will produce accumulations of up to three inches of rainfall over central and southern Belize. As much as four inches of rain are expected to fall in the hilly terrains of the Stann Creek and Toledo districts which will contribute to rising water levels in the already flooded Sarstoon, Temash, Moho, Rio Grande, Bladen, Monkey, Sittee and other tributaries in the South.

To add to the bad news, forecasters also report that an area of low pressure now emerging off of the coast of Africa into the far eastern Atlantic could be in the Caribbean by the weekend.

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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