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Aug 23, 2007

Relief trickles in to Corozal

Story PictureMaybe people in Corozal expected too much. Maybe the people at NEMO planned too little. Maybe the media is focussing too closely on the suffering and not enough on the recovery. Those issues will no doubt be debated in the weeks and months to come but for now we can safely report that there is a significant gap in the attitude of those people awaiting assistance in the wake of Hurricane Dean and those charged with the task of providing it. That gap is reflected in our coverage tonight which contains news of continued suffering mixed with reports on increasing levels of assistance. Whether the relief cup is half full or half empty may depend on the last time you had a bath or a hot meal. We’ll begin our series of reports in Corozal Town.

Teresita Hernandez, Corozal Resident
“They noh even bring no transport fu we. We had to mih see how we manage fu mek we get outta this place. And by right, I think they shoulda help we because we really need help, especially this area. We neva mih even got water, nothing, and we mih have to try sih how we— we mi the depend pan help.”

Delvorine Crawford
“Well right now, I deh pan the floor because the mattress wet up, yoh know and well, mih husband mih gone da top and fix it back because NEMO seh they wah come roun come fix, but I can’t wait til they come. They noh come visit yet around til you all come, and the mayor.”

The mayor of Corozal Town, Hilberto Campos, is still waiting for assistance to come from NEMO.

Hilberto Campos, Corozal Town Mayor
NEMO is insisting that I should tell the people go home, wait in your affected area. They claim that if you’re not at your affected area that you’re not gonna get anything, so you have to be at your place that got torn down, waiting for NEMO. I believe they’re taking too long, like I said, I already ordered about a good amount of zinc to help these people to put up back their roofs. I’m waiting for it, on Saturday it’s coming and I heard NEMO talking about two hundred thousand sheets of zinc. I don’t know when they’re gonna distribute it, I believe to my discretion they’re taking too long. I cannot tell the persons go back home weh path yoh house used to deh and wait for NEMO to come and make an assessment. They insist on this assessment, that they’re gonna reach, they gonna do an assessment, they’re gonna find out what all you need and then their gonna tell you wait, we coming back to see how much we gonna help you with.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“But how long will this assessment take to be done?”

Hilberto Campos
“I have no idea.”

In the meantime, Campos is doing his own mobilization in order to bring much needed relief to his town.

Hilberto Campos
“We’ve helped about three hundred people with breakfast; we’ve been distributing water in their houses. And all of this is on behalf of the Corozal Town Council, not getting anything from NEMO, because I believe that NEMO still have their warehouse stack up with food, I don’t know what they’re waiting for. It’s been two days after the storm, people are starting to feel that desperation.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“You said the zinc you ordered and some of the food will come on Saturday, why Saturday, this is Thursday?”

Hilberto Campos
“Unfortunately, the construction materials, that’s the closest one we could have gotten. We got it from Orange Walk and they say they will deliver it until Saturday.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“And this is Corozal, next door.”

Hilberto Campos
“I’m sorry, it’s Orange Walk, Orange Walk.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“Yea, but I’m saying this is Corozal next door and it will take until Saturday?”

Hilberto Campos
“Yes, until Saturday. I’m trying as hard as I could and if I was in the government it would have been different, trust me.”

Hyacinth Rochester of the Santa Rita area is in need of help, because she has no money to rebuild and no insurance to cover her property.

Hyacinth Rochester, Santa Rita Resident
“The whole house tumble down, everything, only wah small part ah weh we deh live ina right now. Everything wet up, pot and everything destroy, everything, from the stove full ah water.”

This husband and wife team, Ernest and Lenora Williams of Ranchito Village planned for disaster. They have insured their property going on sixteen years with the Insurance Corporation of Belize. Today the couple was visited by the insurance agent, Evodia Palma-Lawrence who says insurance should be a priority.

Evodia Palma-Lawrence, Manager, I.C.B.
“We have to start looking at insurance as a necessity. Just like we need to have electricity and we need to have water, we need funds for rebuilding, and insurance is one sure way of doing that.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“In a time when a lot of people don’t have much disposable income, how do you sell that to them?”

Evodia Palma-Lawrence
“It is something that we need to look at our priorities. I think we really need to look at our priorities and insurance internationally is being recognised for that. It is a necessity and we need to put aside and budget for it.”

“She has just insurance on the structure and she’s lost most of her roof, it would seem to us at least forty percent of her roof has been lost and the ceiling, and there’s some damage to the internal walls, to the casing and that. So we’re looking at like forty or forty-five percent damage to her structure right now.”

Ann-Marie Williams
“So in terms of her claim, what percentage of what she’s insured for would she get back, more or less?”

Evodia Palma-Lawrence
“She has the property— I think she is adequately insured and so she would get back just about that.”

Palmer-Lawrence says most Corozalenos don’t have insurance.

Ann-Marie Williams
“Corozal has the lowest unemployment so how do you reconcile people not getting insurance. It’s because of the education? What is it?”

Evodia Palma-Lawrence
“It is and Insurance Corporation of Belize, we recognize that. In fact, in the last year or so we have opened a department especially on education and that has been working. So we can educate the people on the types of policies available, the type of coverages available and how best to suit it to their needs. What they call the fine print, we want to explain that to them because it’s not anything we’re trying to hide.”

And the fine print says that each policy carries a deductable, which is two percent on the total sum insured. In other words, if your house is insured for a hundred thousand dollars, two percent of that is the deductable, which is two thousand, so if your claim is less than two thousand, as a home owner, you will have to suffer the loss. If it’s more than two thousand, the home owner will collect the excess.

Lenora Williams
“Well because, we know that insurance helps a lot. And by Mr. Raul Gilharry, he’s a good friend of ours you know and he talked to us to insure, that’s why ”

In the meantime, residents of Corozal waited and waited for rations. The announcement finally came this morning.

Anne-Marie Williams, Reporting
“NEMO made a public announcement this morning, saying that at one o’ clock this afternoon, they will be distributing rations to Corozalenos most affected by Hurricane Dean. It’s two-fifteen and a line of irate residents are still trying to find NEMO.”

Anne-Marie Williams
“How long are you out here?”

Erlando Vasquez, Waiting for rations
“I deh out yah bout eleven o’ clock.”

Anne-Marie Williams
“What are your thoughts on waiting so long?”

Erlando Vasquez
“Because they say they’re gonna give some rations twelve o’ clock, and right now it’s two o’ clock right now, and nothing yet.”

Maria Peña, Waiting for Rations
“Oh my God, I done get tired, and so long I wait here and nothing. So, we have to wait because we need it. If we neva need it then I’m not going to wait noh”

Anne-Marie Williams
“Have you been visited by NEMO?”

Joyce Locke, Waiting for Rations
“I noh know, I noh sih he, I noh sih he yet. I noh sih Mr. NEMO yet.”

Anne-Marie Williams
“What kind of help you want?”

Joyce Locke
“I want help fih fix back mi house and build back mi lee house fih mih son.”

At two twenty-five the truck with relief supplies finally arrived at the Corozal Civic Centre and shortly afterward began to distribute aid to those waiting in line.


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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