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Jun 6, 2008

Recovery in south is uneven

Story PictureSince Monday, News Five reporters Janelle Chanona, Ann-Marie Williams and Kendra Griffith have been travelling by truck, tractor, speedboat and dorey to bring you the dramatic stories of Tropical Storm Arthur. Today it was Marion Ali’s turn to make the trip south. What makes her reporting particularly meaningful is that her family lives in one of the hardest hit areas—Hope Creek—and it was the first time she had seen them since the flooding began. Marion, tell us … how are the relief efforts going?

Marion Ali
Well, good evening first of all, Marleni. I must say that in Hope Creek Village, that is the point of contention because that is where the warehouse is located for the entire affected areas; all of the areas that have been affected by these floods. And yet it is the people of Hope Creek that are not receiving the supplies—at least not in a timely fashion. And I found further south in Sittee River, as you’ll find out later on in the interviews, that they seem to have a much smoother distribution system going on. So I spoke with also, the man in charge of the warehouse and he will explain to us what exactly is going on. He claims that the people are getting the supplies. Everybody we spoke with and we saw the conditions, they are saying that they are not getting the supplies and if they do get it, it is not enough and it is certainly not in a timely fashion. My trip also took me, aside from Hope Creek and Sittee River, we went back—actually this is the first time for me—but Channel Five went back to the Kendal Bridge area where we reported earlier. You know the bridge totally disappeared. And there are improvements, there’s currently work undergoing at that location to put in a temporary causeway. So motorists travelling by road will be able to move from one side to the other. This is the first point. If you notice this shot here this is mile twenty-three at Middlesex. Remember that’s where one of the culverts actually caved in and a portion of the road had broken up. So what the Ministry of Works is doing, their personnel, this and another section of the road as you’ll see later on. They’re fixing that. This scene here is actually—remember Mister Mark Ritchie Senior who lost three members of his family—they were actually conducting the funeral services today for those three members. And you’ll see Mister Mark Ritchie, that’s the gentleman there who lost his wife and his daughter and his son in the flash flood. So, very unfortunate situation for him. And that took place today again like I told and that was at mile twenty-one in the Valley community. This is the other section of the road that I told you about and Janelle reported in her report on Monday that this appeared then as if though two big bites were taken.

Marleni Cuellar
Oh this is the area where they had the crack in the road.

Marion Ali
No, this was actually as if though there were two chinks bitten out and another culvert. This was located here. We can see the Ministry of Works personnel. And now, here this is when we actually were driving towards Hope Creek Village, our first stop on the way. It was raining very, very heavily. One of my neighbours here, Misses Acosta, Cynthia Acosta. She lost almost everything in the flood.

Cynthia Acosta, Flood Victim, Hope Creek
“Like I hear thing di knock up and knock up inna di house. When I get up, the water flush with mi bed, flush with mi bed. So I get up and di water di raise fast. Ih raise fast and I get een di try si weh I could get but I couldn’t get nothing and only me, Tricia; mi nineteen year old, and mi ten year old mi deh inna I house. Di water raise so fast and when I reach di step cause di step da three step, di water mi done deh da mi neck already so me and mi two pickney dehn we hurry come out. I can’t swim but my daughter and my son, we cling together.”

Marion Ali
Okay, and this as you can see inside misses Acosta’s home here…

Marleni Cuellar
The damage.

Marion Ali
Yes, quite a lot of damage, this here is actually my family home. We are neighbours to misses Acosta. That’s my relative right there, Miss Isabel Trapp, doing the laundry by hand because our washing machine went. And as you will see too, part of the flooring in one of the bedrooms also caved in because of the floods that came. So we lost a lot as well. This here is the ITVET center. This is the point where I’m telling you, where actually all the contention is happening in Hope Creek. That’s right in Hope Creek, near the Coastal Road junction and as you can see, the volunteers here are helping to clean up stuff. The B.D.F. are loading into the trucks to deliver and this is what I was telling you about earlier Marleni. While we see a lot of loading taking place, we don’t know where the supplies are going and the people are saying it’s not going to them, it’s not reaching them and the man there in charge, mister Santiago Acosta is saying no they are getting the supplies. So we tried our best to follow one of the trucks but we didn’t get that chance because time wasn’t on our side. We still other stops to make. But these are some of the supplies that they actually had there in stock to distribute to these people.

Carmen Young, Flood Victim, Hope Creek
“I mi mad because dah just wah sponge or something mek I could sleep pan, lay down pan. Dat’s all I want.”

Elvis Young, Flood Victim, Hope Creek
“Wah lee food items come to we yah; wah day supply but nothing else.”

Anselma Jimenez, Flood Victim, Hope Creek
“Noh from NEMO. Well, from NEMO we noh get yet. Just dis morning dehn pass and write down name.”

Marion Ali
“So di help di come from who then, N.G.O.s, Red Cross?”

Anselma Jimenez
“I think so. I think so and some truck from Corozal.”

Marion Ali
“So, the help hasn’t been coming as it ought to?”

Cynthia Acosta
“Well, I woulda seh not weh I expect.”

Anna Murillo, Flood Victim, Hope Creek
“My house gone. Everything gone, everything. And deh way da Belize but pan weekend I come down. But when I come down dah fi nothing.”

Marion Ali
“Weh dehn tell yoh when you come?”

Anna Murillo
“I noh want seh di name but Mister Acosta, di NEMO man, tell me dat I noh live yah so I noh fi get nothing at all, nothing fix, nothing because I noh live yah. But I come down pan weekend. I only deh dah side because ah work.”

Marion Ali
Okay, and dat is mister Santiago Acosta. That is the gentleman who is in charge.

Santiago Acosta, Coord., Distribution of Supplies
“Everybody gets help from the affected community because from our analysis, everybody is a victim to this tragedy.”

Marion Ali
“Well, it seems that the system is just really moving really too slow. People live right here just maybe a lane or up the street and today is five days after the storm. They still noh get nothing from your office.”

Santiago Acosta
“The thing is not that the process is moving too slow. The thing is that we have trucks out there whole day delivering stuff and people are not in the area. Then when the trucks come back in to do another section, they feel like they have been omitted from the process.”

Marion Ali
“This is one of the worse affected areas. How much longer do they have to wait before they get help?”

Santiago Acosta
“It depends on what you want to analyse how much they longer they have to get the help because these people are literally getting help right now.”

Marion Ali
“That lady I just spoke with, she got help already?”

Santiago Acosta
“She has food supplies already Marion.”

Marion Ali
“What about everything she lost? Her mattress, her bed, everything gone.”

Santiago Acosta
“Marion, we can’t …”

Marion Ali
“You have mattress right?”

Santiago Acosta
“Right now we have mattress but we literally can’t be able to say I will give you back everything that was in your house.”

Marleni Cuellar
Am I understanding then that he’s saying that they’re going out to do the deliveries and people are not home at that time?

Marion Ali
Yes and I still can’t get an understanding because these people, they have to stay in other places now because their homes have, some of them, been destroyed. But these people remain in Hope Creek village, some of them outside their homes, just waiting for supplies to come and so when it doesn’t come in the timely fashion I’m talking about then they have to go. My relative actually had to go and purchase at the shop because she gave up and I can’t blame her, can you? this is the situation there and, like I told you earlier, in the upcoming bites we’ll find out that in Sittee River Village, which was our next stop we’ll find out that things were totally different and that was not the point of distribution for these supplies, it was Hope Creek Village.

Marleni Cuellar
What else was happening in Hope Creek in terms of the Clean up efforts?

Marion Ali
Well, the B.D.F., as you can see here, helping to clean up, helping people to get rid of items that are not salvageable, taking the trees that have been down by the floods and just basically helping people to get their lives back together. We see here, this is a new section of Hope Creek actually. It’s called Hope Creek Extension where the houses here are newer and they are concrete but he people still suffered very, very much. The damages were severe. Here is now Sittee River, the distribution point for them. You can see stoves. And these are some of the flood victims in that area.

Welda Slusher, Flood Victim, Sittee River
“We get help with clothes, we get food and stuff so I think ih good.”

Marion Ali
“Okay, so it’s coming in timely?”

Welda Slusher
“Yeah.”

Marion Ali
“Yoh noh have to wait long?”

Welda Slusher
“No, I think everybody di get help.”

Ann Foster, Flood Victim, Sittee River
“They doing good.”

Marion Ali
“So everyday you get something everyday, you get wah amount.”

Ann Foster
“Yes ma’am.”

Marion Ali
“Your house get totalled too?”

Ann Foster
“Everything, everything.”

Marion Ali
“So now yoh di wait fi di mattress and di plywood just like everybody else. But the foodwise, it’s good?”

Ann Foster
“Yeah, it’s good.”

Marion Ali
As you heard, generally …

Marleni Cuellar
The responses are different.

Marion Ali
And as you saw in that last shot, some people are even—they have found some means of recreation. Two gentlemen playing checkers there as the rest of the villagers try to get their lives back to normal. Here is one of the stops we made along the way. People just putting out—trying to make much of the sunlight and putting their stuff to dry. Our next stop will be where the Kendal Bridge once stood and you will see the progress here. Aside from that, you will also observe that people are making money from off this situation. When was the last time you saw something like that? The boats ferrying people across, of course for a small fee; I think it’s five dollars. Here is a neat shot I think Marleni, where the butane company was supplying butane to the residents on the other side via this very long hose which they extended across there and that’s the way they’ve been supplying since, I think it was Tuesday. Here is this gentleman now ferrying across some chicken and people getting on the boats to go across. And they have options there as you can tell; canoe, or boat, or ferry, or raft even. There’s another one in a canoe. Here is the causeway that I’ve been talking about.

Bill Cuevas, District Mgr., Ministry of Works
“We think it will be finished about midday tomorrow and it will be very safe. We don’t want to take wide traffic but small vehicles and goods vehicles and things like that should be able to go through. And it will be built in such a way that we will have a D6 with a dally and a trailer that can pull over bigger traffic because the bigger traffic won’t be using the crossing. They will be on the river bed. The smaller traffic is the ones that will be using the crossing and we know that it might even wah away or undermine or something like that. But we can’t think about that right now. We think the weather has stopped for a while so we continue with this.”

Marion Ali
Okay and this is the diversion that they’ve created in constructing that causeway. That should be done by noon tomorrow according to Bill Cuevas, the gentleman I just spoke with Marleni.

Marleni Cuellar
So they’re just dumping sand.

Marion Ali
Yeah. That’s what they’re doing at this point.

Stanley Usher, Owner, Usher’s Bus Company
“A lot of people don’t travel at that hour. Beside that, it cost me money because I have to use busses running from Dangriga to here to this bridge and the other bus over the bridge, from there to Punta Gorda and the same problem to come back. We have to have our bus that come here and one that pick up the passenger here and I believe it affects all the other bus lines.”

Marion Ali
Here as you can see, flood is really affecting people in varying ways. The gentleman before, Stanley Usher was talking, he’s the owner of Usher’s Bus Company and he was talking about how it has really affected him negatively and he has lost and continues to lose like two hundred and fifty dollars per day. The last shot we saw was the lady Miss Julia Williams from Silk Grass and she has actually—it has actually brought on a new opportunity for her because seh goes there now at the site at the Kendal Bridge where it was and she’s selling food there. And so that’s one of the situations where it turned out to be positive for her and the people who are actually running the ferry across.

Miss Julia Williams, Food Vendor
“People di go back and forth, dehn want eat so I decide fi come out. The first day I come out di people dehn seh thank yoh Miss because dehn neva have nothing fi eat so dehn mi enjoy di food and dehn seh come again tomorrow. I mek sure I come out. I come out everyday and I do wah nice lee business.”

Marion Ali
And the food is good too, I might add. I did test and it’s good and Rick and I can vouch for that. I wanted to add that I spoke with Miss Judith Alpuche and she is the person at NEMO who is the chairperson of their relief supplies management committee.

Marleni Cuellar
That is the C.E.O. of Economic Development.

Marion Ali
And I spoke with her this afternoon on my way back from the south and she told me that by tomorrow, she assures the villagers of Hope Creek that the situation there should be remedied. So I’m sure those people are looking forward for that. They’re trying to sort out what the problem is and by tomorrow, she said, they’ll have a new management team and that will be attended to tomorrow.

Marleni Cuellar
So they’re working on getting the villagers of Hope Creek the supplies they need.

Marion Ali
And they are in dire need. I saw them myself.

Marleni Cuellar
Yes, and we saw for ourselves from the footage.

Marion Ali
And my relative, I must say thankfully, I’m glad that she wasn’t there at the time because I don’t know what would have happened. She was Hopkins when hat flood passed through and I’m thankful. While we lost a lot, I’m thankful that …

Marleni Cuellar
Well, that was a very, I’m sure, personal journey for you going back there and seeing what happened there. we’re very thankful that you cam in studio with us to be able to go over the footage and also be able to share what has happened in Hope Creek and other places down south. Thanks for joining us in the studio Marion.


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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