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Jun 2, 2008

Trip up Northern Hwy. shows extensive flooding

Story PictureWhile Janelle Chanona was making her way south, News Five’s Marion Ali was heading in the opposite direction. While she was not able to make it as far as the villages along the Rio Hondo and it’s tributaries, what she saw along the Northern Highway was not pretty.

Marion Ali, Reporting
The first spot that got our attention as we headed north was mile thirty-six, where it appeared as if though a fast flowing river had formed from one side of the road to the next. While it did not cause a road closure, motorists had to exercise caution as they navigated their way through the rising waters.

But the more severely affected areas included the Guinea Grass and Santa Marta access roads. Here in Carmelita the current was so strong that the feeder road was closed to vehicular traffic. Chairman of Carmelita Village, Randy Jones, said this is not something that normally happens.

Randy Jones, Chairman, Carmelita Village
“Usually, we have the culvert that would be able to accommodate the amount of water coming through but at this point, as you see, it’s all the way over the road; several feet over the road at the highest point. So we have a situation now where vehicles from Santa Martha, Maskall, other villages from that direction cannot come into Orange Walk at this point.”

Marion Ali
“When it floods like this, so bad here, how long does it take before it recedes?”

Randy Jones
“Depending on the weather conditions, it could go down by tomorrow. But if the rain persists we’re looking at several more days of being cut off. In other areas we also have people flooded and having to evacuate their homes.”

At this roadside home in Carmelita Village Cyril Valencia was preparing his family to evacuate.

Cyril Valencia, Carmelita Villager
“Di problem wen ih come like dis, ih tek like wah month, two weeks, month, three weeks before ih think bout go down yoh noh? Ih just start yesterday fi come up but ih start rapid and last night—up to last night ih mi okay but wen we get dis morning dah like sea.”

Marion Ali
“So right now di whole inside flood out?”

Cyril Valencia
“Oh yes, yes everything. We di try get out now and so we could evacuate, noh.”

In Orange Walk Town itself some forty people had already taken up shelter inside the Multi Purpose Centre, including Rosa Shaw, who lost everything to the flood.

Rosa Shaw, Flood Victim
“We gone sleep and wen we wake up, di whole house, mattress, everything under water.”

Marion Ali
“Dis dah Orange Walk Town?”

Rosa Shaw
“Yeah, Orange Walk Town.”

Marion Ali
“So yoh spend di night here?”

Rosa Shaw
“No, I come in bout six-thirty dis morning.”

Marion Ali
“Any ah yoh appliances yoh lose?”

Rosa Shaw
“Yeah, everything. Everything, di washing machine everything get burn out … flood out, yes.”

The emergency team in Orange Walk is headed by DEMO Coordinator Elodio Aragon, who with volunteers, have been busy evacuating residents since Sunday. But people there are still anticipating a further rise in water levels and Aragon says they are taking things seriously.

Elodio Aragon, Coordinator, DEMO, Orange Walk
“We had to be trying to open ways for the water to flow and we spend a good time. As a matter of fact, we got three backhoes for Trial Farm and one for San Lorenzo. Later on we had to get another one for the Louisiana area. So all night we have been working at that and then we were picking up people who wanted to be evacuated and we bring them to the shelters. So that’s what we’ve been doing whole ah di night. The villages and the Louisiana area in Orange Walk Town are the ones which will be affected probably in the next day and a half or two with all the flooding; flash flooding which will occur because we have noticed that the New River is steadily rising and the Rio Hondo is—from the information we have gathered out there—it’s going up very quick. We have treated this more seriously than we would have treated a hurricane in the sense that we would not have expected a flooding to take part in the whole of the community here and now that it happened we had to … we were planning for the hurricane and suddenly we had to turn to the flooding.”

Closer to Belize City in Crooked Tree, flooding was not the only worry villagers have as a mini tornado ripped through five homes.

George Guest, Chairman, Crooked Tree Village
“When I look at the devastation then I knew it was a tornado. That could never have been nothing else but a tornado. That’s the first time in the history of Crooked Tree that a tornado has touched down in Crooked Tree. It did a lot of devastation; tore the roof off of people’s houses, their kitchen, it blew down trees and release the cattle off of people’s land too. With the rain it bring, it raise the lagoon too. Right now the lagoon is raising and I just heard in the news again that it’s raising rapidly too.”

Linda Codd, Crooked Tree Resident
“Da wah ugly sounding noise.”

Marion Ali
“First time you hear dah noise?”

Linda Codd
“Yeah, first time. I ask mi lee gial dah weh go like dat and she seh she noh know.”

Marion Ali
“So yoh look outside or yoh come outside?”

Linda Codd
“No, I neva did come outside, I stay inside.”

Marion Ali
“Okay, how long ih last?”

Linda Codd
“Ih neva last long; noh even wah minute I noh think.”

Guest is asking NEMO and anyone else to help the village with roofing supplies for the affected families. Reporting for News Five, Marion Ali.

Villagers of Crooked Tree are also concerned that when the rains finally cease the waters of the lagoon will continue to rise and residents may have to evacuate to higher ground across the causeway.

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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