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Jun 6, 2008

Total losses led by 3 bridges, could reach Bz. $60 million

Story PictureThis afternoon government officially released the preliminary figures of the Damage Assessment and Needs Analysis which was being conducted in the wake of Tropical Storm Arthur. Forty communities were impacted in the northern, southern and central areas of the country and the price tag for damages has come up to a whopping fifty-two million Belize dollars and will likely go higher. With three bridges destroyed and major road washouts on the Hummingbird Highway, infrastructure accounted for almost nineteen million dollars of the overall cost.

Noreen Fairweather, DANA Team Leader
“Along the Hummingbird Highway we had at least three significant locations where the culverts were completely washed out and we’re looking at some replacement costs of a hundred and fifty thousand dollars. The Kendall Bridge, which was completely washed away some ten millions dollars to replace. The Mullins River Bridge on the Manatee Road, that also has been completely washed out and we’re looking at another five million dollars to replace that. The Soldier Creek Bridge along the Coastal Road some five point six million dollars to replace it. And then we also had some damage to the San Lazaro Bridge in the north. The bridge is there but the approach has been washed out and so we need to look quickly at replacing the fill in that area.”

Another government asset which suffered a major setback is the ITVET complex at Hope Creek. When waters flooded the ground floor of the building, the equipment located there was heavily damaged to the tune of one point five million dollars. As for personal property, it is estimated that seven hundred and fourteen homes were affected by the flood, while twenty-six houses were completely destroyed.

Noreen Fairweather
“In housing, the affected buildings, destroyed buildings, damage to household items were significant because while the physical structure might be there, those families basically lost most, if not all, of their household items and that tallied up to just over four and a half million dollars, the total direct cost for the housing sector, seven point two million dollars.”

It is estimated that personal vehicle and farm machinery loss is three hundred and thirty thousand dollars. G.O.B. is expecting that it will have to allocate about a million dollars in humanitarian assistance to help residents return to normal.

In any disaster, the agriculture sector typically takes a licking and Arthur was no exception. DANA team leader Noreen Fairweather told the press today that the various crop categories suffered fourteen million dollars in combined losses.

Noreen Fairweather
“We can start with citrus. Fortunately, about seventy-five percent of the crops were already harvested from citrus. Form the twenty-five percent or so that were still in the fields, we estimate a five percent loss of the crops and that five percent look at primarily those crops that were along the rivers and there were significant number of newly planted citrus trees; actually a thousand, five hundred acres, newly planted and lost as a result of the flooding. With regards to the five percent still on the trees, the estimated loss is looking at just over four hundred and fifty-nine thousand boxes and the cost for that is just over three point seven million dollars. So the total cost there, if you would tally those up, looks something like seven point nine million dollars in citrus alone. If we take a look at rice, continuing in the agricultural sector, we had a destruction of about nine hundred and fourteen acres of rice in Blue Creek, another four hundred and sixty at Big Falls in the Belize District all of which were ready for harvesting. That came up to an estimated loss of about one point seven million dollars. For cane, we had eighteen hundred acres that were already burnt and awaiting harvesting or actually just about to be harvested and the cost—once it’s burnt and in the field, if you don’t harvest it right away there’s no recovery. So that’s a loss and that tallied up to about one point six million dollars.”

The banana industry took a two point three million dollar hit, while the smaller crops, livestock, pastures and processed products accounted for another four hundred and thirty-seven thousand dollars in losses.

Another important foreign exchange earner is the fisheries industry. According to Fairweather, fisheries production and equipment suffered over nine million dollars in losses.

Noreen Fairweather
“In the lobster subsector, which begins next week, we have some five million dollars in terms of loss. And while we went and quoted that figure—because you might say that the season hasn’t started, but the fisheries people and the fishermen are explaining that their traps are down and come next week, at the start of the season, that’s the peak of the season and what this figure means is that in the next four days they will not be able to harvest twenty-five percent of what they would have normally, looking at the trends and pass records. So not being able to do that came up with losing over a hundred and twenty-five pounds of lobster and that is how we arrived at that five million dollar figure. In terms of aquaculture, the facility that reported the most significant damage was in Mullins River, the Paradise Shrimp Farm and they had flow-overs in their ponds. The estimated damages to that particular facility was about two point four million dollars. There are others in the Melinda Mariculture and the others down south did have some damages but we have some very, very preliminary figures for those at this time.”

The conch season was already a month underway and did not suffer as large a loss as shrimp and lobster. There are no figures as yet for environmental damage, but losses to tourism sites and resorts are estimated at six hundred thousand dollars. The committee reiterates that the figures are only preliminary and they believe that the overall price tag for Arthur could go as high as sixty million dollars.

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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