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- Update on Flooding Events in Belize
  • From: <webmaster at cdera.org>
  • Date: 1 Nov 2008 19:26:34 -0000

 Rains associated with the passage of Tropical Depression 16 during the period October 15 -17, 2008 have resulted in widespread flooding across several districts in Belize. Flood waters have reportedly affected 97 villages and are expected to continuing rising in areas of the Belize, Cayo, Corozal and Orange Walk Districts well into the month of November.


Attached is an update on the flooding events as of October 28, 2008.

Attachment: Belize%20Update%20as%20of%20October%2028,%202008.pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document

- The Geat Flood of '08
  • From: "Diane Campbell" <dianecampbell at hughes.net>
  • Date: Fri, 31 Oct 2008 14:27:35 -0600
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Friday, October 31, 2008 1:34 PM
Subject: Re: info on the floods ........

It seems that not much news has gotten out about the floods in Belize. 
The cayes are fine, but certain sections of the mainland remain a mess, and the situation is not over.  Rains stopped some days ago, but the waters continue to arrive and spread.
Partial transcript from last night's Channcel 7 Television news follows .........

More Havoc from Flood of '08

The great flood of 2008 continues to wreak havoc all across Belize - in the Orange Walk, Corozal, Cayo and Belize Districts. The footprint of this disaster is huge and everyday it expands.

First to the Belize District, where on the Crooked Tree Lagoon, the water is almost 7 feet above the causeway and still rising slowly. Same goes for Maypen and Double Run, where the floodwaters have exceeded the Mitch record and are approaching the high mark set by Hurricane Keith. Water levels also continue to rise near Burrell Boom and that village still cannot be approached from the Western Highway.
The level is also rising along the Northern Highway near the Haulover Bridge and we’ll tell you about the risk factors for that later on.
But the levels are going down in Rancho Dolores and Lemonal, as well as St. Paul's Bank and Willows Bank, and Double Head Cabbage. The level is steady near Bermudian Landing, Flowers Bank and Isabella Bank.
Lord’s Bank which we showed you yesterday is still largely under water and 2 families have been moved to a shelter and water continue to rise.
Four NEMO teams were sent out to assess flood damage at the 8 miles community, lower Sandhill, Gardenia, Biscayne, Lord’s Bank Burrell Boom, Fresh Pond and Young Bank.

In Orange Walk, the Hondo is still rising and the Albion Island of San Antonio, San Roman and San Victor Villages which are encircled by the Hondo report rapid rising waters as well.
At Douglas Village, the river level almost at the record level set in Hurricane Keith stage and it is rising rapidly. 80 families have been evacuated from that village and 25 more were scheduled to do so today. They are at shelters in San Pablo and Nuevo San Juan or with relatives in Orange Walk Town.
Similarly, in Corozal, there have been damages in Concepcion, Sarteneja, Xaibe, Patchakan and Libertad – many of the villages that were also pummelled by Hurricane Dean.

Floodwaters Rip Open Culverts on Western Highway

It is, by all estimated, a daily growing disaster – a large part of the nation was paralyzed this morning when a portion of the Western Highway was washed away. Paralysed because like we told you earlier, the Boom Road is flooded, and when mile 9 on the Western Highway had a partial collapse, for a few hours there was no way for vehicles to get in and out of the city. Almost unthinkable, but it didn’t just up and happen. It started last night at midnight when out 7NEWS team was out on the highway for a preview of things to come.
Jules Vasquez Reporting,
It looks more like a sinkhole than a pothole but this is the virtual cater like orifice that Minister of State in the Ministry of Works Edmund Castro almost drove into last night at a few minutes to midnight.
Hon. Edmund Castro, Minister of State
“On our way from Sunset Park and 8 miles we ran into this what seems or what appears to be a pothole. We swerved away from it and then we stopped. As the Minister of State in the Ministry of Works anything concerning roads is of interest to me as well and so we stopped and when we checked it out we saw that it was a crater which is about 5 to 6 feet in diameter.”
And possibly as many feet deep. This is what it looks like inside – there’s nothing there holding up the road, the entire foundation has been eroded by the floodwater. It is simply being held by the cohesion of the wafer thin pavement – which if left un-noticed, at night would have been a sure recipe for disaster.
Hon. Edmund Castro,
“Disaster. This hole can take up a small car easily and all you will see probably is the taillight of the car. So it would have been real disaster.”
But disaster was averted as the road was closed from midnight until 6:00 am. During that time Castro mobilised a nearby private work crew to patch it up – in time for the morning traffic.
Jules Vasquez,
There are thousands of Belizeans on this highway, just tomorrow morning there will be thousands. Should we be extra vigilant for suspicious potholes?
Hon. Edmund Castro,
“Yes, definitely. A 100 yards from here the next one can happen.”
6 hours alter a commuter saw this 200 yards away, near the entrance to Westlake Park at mile 9.
Hon. Edmund Castro,
“As soon as we finished and were prepared to go in with the equipment we found out by a commuter through a phone call that there is also another culvert that had collapsed at mile 9 on the Western Highway.”
It may look like just a gusher at the road shoulder but inside is like a water filled cavern – and again, there’s nothing holding up the road – a full half of the road held up by just the cohesion of the pavement crust.
But this is far different from what we saw last night because this was the height of the morning rush – mostly everyone heading into the city for work and school and the road was closed for about two hours. And then it was opened to light trucks and cars, but closed to container trucks and busses as police battled to control traffic, this one looked like he was landing a plane, while NEMO’s Phillip Willoughby, always eager to get in on the action, assisted.
And while cars passed on the safe side of the road, busses were not allowed, and travellers had to carry their loads and walk about a half a mile through water to get across the trouble area. These schoolchildren had been on their bus for about an hour when we got there and after a while just had to decide to hike it over to the next side, this child looked like he was late for school while others seemed to enjoy the barefoot brigade.
And while they walked past – slowly, the road was giving way – being taken into the coarsing currents. First a small piece falls away and then a bigger piece, and then another fissure appears and that leads to the collapse of a whole chunk of pavement.
And while the road collapsed, so did this stranded bystander Alex Recinios who was waiting for the road to clear. Police and NEMO officials rushed to help but none of them seemed to know CPR or even how to take a pulse, so they held his head. He was mostly unresponsive and so they trundled him into a police mobile and carted him off to the KHMH.
And as he was whisked off, the excavator – which had been on its way for hours, got to work, exposing what lies beneath the road – which is just water. Frightening to think again, how many cars and buses had been driving on that.
And the cause? This zinc culvert – now reduced to mangled detritus by the ferocious running water working its way into the Almond Hill Lagoon. When the excavators work was done, the road was like a decorative carapace above a swollen river.
And the next step a temporary measure was to compact the hole with these boulders. Castro who had been on the road since midnight told us what was the plan
Hon. Edmund Castro,
“What we are doing is we are excavating out the whole collapsed culvert which is no good and we are using a temporary method in using some boulders and hardcore so that the traffic will be able to pass without any problem.”
It is a temporary measure, but the question is, on this very flooded road, which culvert will go next?
The Ministry of Works continues to monitor, and a little later on, we’ll hear from Works CEO and engineer Cadet Henderson on what precisely are the risks on the Western Highway.

Click Here!

Prime Minister Dean Barrow Will Declare National Emergency

And while Minister of State in Works Edmund Castro was on the ground, this morning Prime Minister Dean Barrow along with Minister of Works Boots Martinez and his Chief Executive Officer Cadet Henderson were in the air. This morning the Prime Minister got a bird’s eye view of the emerging threats on the Northern and Western Highways and in Belama during a brief helicopter tour. 7NEWS was on board.
Keith Swift Reporting,
Barrow first flew over parts of the Northern and Western Highways that flood waters have inundated. And then it was an aerial tour of Belize City - specifically Belama Phase 3 which for the most part is now submerged. After the flyover, Prime Minister Dean Barrow gave us his impression.
Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister
“The CEO was able to point out where the immediate remedial attention is being given to the spot along the Western Highway at my mile 9 where there was the collapse of the culverts. So that is up and running again and then we went to Belama, we did a flyover there, and it looks horrible.”
And that may have been an understatement because we later accompanied Barrow on a ground tour of Belama where he not only saw but got an earful from residents in the inundated community.
Belama Resident
“You know how much years I’ve been complaining about this piece of road. I am the guy that you hear complaining all the time on the radio for the past 15 years.”
Works Minister Boots Martinez says it will be fixed – starting as early as tonight. His told us what his plan is to dig drains to drain the water.
Hon. Anthony Boots Martinez, Minister of Works
“Effective this evening we are getting equipment, at least two excavator trucks and we will drain the water over to the sea and back to the river.”
Keith Swift.
So you’re going to dig a big drain.
Hon. Anthony Boots Martinez,
“Well we’ll be using excavator and also we’re putting in some necessary culverts and joining in the necessary canals where they were blocked up. So we are looking at the whole comprehensive area in terms of getting out the water. It is pathetic to look and see the way the water is overtaking people’s homes in the Belama area.”
Keith Swift,
When should people start seeing the effect, how quickly do you expect the water to drain out?
Hon. Anthony Boots Martinez,
“Well I would say about a day and a half. It is very important for the Prime Minister to be out here today to see without being an engineer what the type of work we need to put in and you know it is very important too because he needs to find the financing for us to alleviate this problem.”
And Prime Minister Barrow says that is his number priority – finding funds to clean up this mess. He confirmed that some of the Venezuelan millions will be used for recovery efforts.
Hon. Dean Barrow,
“The biggest problem will be the money for reconstruction but we are determined that this will be done. We’ve already agreed in Cabinet, we just wanted to consult with the social partners who are part of what we’re going to do with the Venezuelan money, we have already agreed that a portion will have to be diverted to assist with the home reconstruction for those that have been affected. We’re going to have to find additional money for the repair of infrastructure more than I had committed initially. The challenge is where to find the money but we have the certain knowledge that it will be found. It must be found come what may.”
Keith Swift,
Will there be any other declarations of disaster areas?
Hon. Dean Barrow,
“Absolutely. In the Belize District, look at what’s happening in Lord’s Bank, apart from what’s happening in Belama and of course along the river valley and so certainly Orange Walk. I think we’re going to make those declarations, we’re also going to declare that this is a national emergency, not declare a national state of emergency, merely that this is a national emergency. There is a little bit of funding that we can access from the IDB but a precondition for that is the declaration of a national emergency. Just to get the money we are not going to do it, except the facts justify such a declaration. The facts clearly do now and so we’re going to make that declaration.”

MOW: Northern Highway Safe but Vulnerable

And while it was the Western Highway that gave in last night, for the past week, everyone has been concerned about the Northern Highway. Today the former Chief Engineer and now Chief Executive Officer Cadet Henderson says there is no reason to be alarmed. He told us the Northern Highway is structurally sound. He blamed the collapse in portions of the Western Highway on corroded metal culverts. And the good news is there aren’t many like that on the Northern Highway.
Cadet Henderson, CEO – Ministry of Works
“It is vulnerable but we will be monitoring it closely and if we have any collapse or propagation of the failure there we will respond quickly.”
Keith Swift,
Should drivers be concerned when crossing that area?
Cadet Henderson,
“What area?”
Keith Swift,
Same area on the Northern Highway between the Haulover Bridge and the airport.
Cadet Henderson,
“Well I would say if it becomes perilous, if it poses a serious danger we will either stop traffic or provide guidance to the motorists. We will have people out there with safety vests and caution tape to make sure you stay within the carriage way of the road.”
Keith Swift,
So driver should be thinking twice about passing that area?
Cadet Henderson,
“No. Whatever failure is likely will not be catastrophic. It would be something progressive, you would see a tell tale that cautions you that something that is happening.”
Keith Swift,
But could it be like what happened last night on the Western Highway?
Cadet Henderson,
“In this area of the Northern Highway where we’re talking there is, I would want to say absolutely none, but there are very few if any metal culverts and the metal culverts are the ones that corrode that is difficult to assess underground. We have mainly concrete culverts in that area.”
Henderson did say that if there is more than a foot of water on any part of the highway it will be closed to small vehicles.


- rains and floods in Belize
  • From: "Diane Campbell" <dianecampbell at hughes.net>
  • Date: Thu, 23 Oct 2008 14:45:45 -0600
The sun came out today, thank goodness. 
Mainland Belize has a continued disaster unfolding in certain areas.    Cayo District, Orange Walk District and Belize District are the ones most affected.   Homes, crops, livestock, roads and bridges have been severely impacted.
Flood waters are finally abating in the western region, but are moving downstream towards the sea.  Tomorrow the Belize District should see serious flooding.
Prime Minister Dean Barrow called the human response to the emergency "nothing short of phenomenal".   Superb response from emergency agencies and the general public has resulted in zero loss of life, and few if any injuries.  
On Ambergris Caye -- cobbled streets in the heart of town are fine.  All sand and dirt roads are a mess.  "Roads" well south and north of San Pedro are better travelled by jet-ski or kayak than any other means.   Knee-deep water can be found in many backyards, as even high land is not draining well due to ground saturation.
We're not feeling too good about the predictions for more heavy rains next week. 
We'll get through this of course, but long-term difficulties from crop damage will create financial hardships in all sectors for some time.  Add the global financial crisis to the mix and we're probably looking at a challenging year in 2009.
The good news is that Belizeans are stoic, self-reliant and resilient ............ times like this prove it.

- so much rain
  • From: "Diane Campbell" <dianecampbell at hughes.net>
  • Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2008 12:17:00 -0600
Our local island weather mavens say that we've had rain all but 4 days since 15 Sept, and have had about 19+ inches in that time.
It's just dark and wet, broken by occasional rays of lovely light and then back to black skies and cold hard rain.   And more coming.
We are not particularly worried - just inconvenienced and tired of it.   We also try to remain alert, as we remember that some big storms have formed up in this region in late October.  

- Tropical Depression 16 cause flooding in Belize
  • From: <webmaster at cdera.org>
  • Date: 17 Oct 2008 17:07:25 -0000

Message:  CDERA Situation Report # 1 – Tropical Depression Sixteen impact on Belize
October 16, 2008 4.45pm AST

Heavy rainfall associated with Tropical Depression 16 began affecting the southern areas of Belize from the evening of Wednesday October 15. The system is producing a lot of rainfall and this has resulted in flooding in number of the flood prone in the southern districts.

Please see attached for details.

Attachment: CDERA%20Situation%20Report%20#1-%20Belize%20impact.doc
Description: MS-Word document

- 99L
  • From: "Diane Campbell" <dianecampbell at hughes.net>
  • Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 16:29:01 -0600
Ambergris Caye -
Today's weather - rain, clear, rain, not so clear, more rain, strong winds with white-out conditions followed by soft rains and a bit of blue sky ...................... breezy and cool then a bit warm and then more rain.   Every five minutes something different.
The southern part of Belize has had a punishing season for rain, with the southern half of the country frequently cut off for road access due to flooding and bridge damage.  
No announcements yet, but anticipate some flood warnings by tomorrow.
In the cayes and along the coast there will probably be some boat-sinking nights ahead of us.
We've all had quite enough for a while - stop the rain dance!
(On the other hand, the waters were gloriously clear yesterday and it was a perfect day for a snorkel on the reef.)

- 99L
  • From: "Diane Campbell" <dianecampbell at hughes.net>
  • Date: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 16:29:01 -0600
Ambergris Caye -
Today's weather - rain, clear, rain, not so clear, more rain, strong winds with white-out conditions followed by soft rains and a bit of blue sky ...................... breezy and cool then a bit warm and then more rain.   Every five minutes something different.
The southern part of Belize has had a punishing season for rain, with the southern half of the country frequently cut off for road access due to flooding and bridge damage.  
No announcements yet, but anticipate some flood warnings by tomorrow.
In the cayes and along the coast there will probably be some boat-sinking nights ahead of us.
We've all had quite enough for a while - stop the rain dance!
(On the other hand, the waters were gloriously clear yesterday and it was a perfect day for a snorkel on the reef.)

- rain and no rain
  • From: "Diane Campbell" <dianecampbell at hughes.net>
  • Date: Sun, 28 Sep 2008 09:46:23 -0600
It's been a quite rainy with that low pressure system sitting over us the past couple of days.
Last night in the more northern areas of Ambergris Caye we had several deluges and a lot of thunder and lightening.  A boat-sinking kind of night.    This morning I learned that an area 7 or 8 miles away to the more southern part of the island experienced barely a sprinkle of rain. 
Mossies hatched, frogs hatched, no breeze, silvery skies.   If you have a little deet it's quite lovely.  

- gustav's outter effects
  • From: "Diane Campbell" <diane at dianecampbell.net>
  • Date: Sun, 31 Aug 2008 08:42:01 -0600
One the shores of Ambergris Caye the sea yesterday and last night rose dramatically - the surface was calm, no chop.  We rarely have anything approximating a swell, especially here inside the reef, but last night we had them.  Big mountains of water moved slowly in over the reef, and then back out again.   Local flooding, piles of seagrass and logs on the beach.    Seas are flat again today and water levels are back to normal.
Clear skies, bright sun. 
Miss San Pedro was crowned last night amidst a lovely island celebration that included wonderful costumes, dances and even an Elvis impersonator.    Many local people have friends and family living in the New Orleans area, so despite the festive atmosphere there was much talk about worries and fears for them and for everybody during the rest of this season.  We are mindful that anything can happen.  The devastation to one's emotional landscape can be as difficult to repair as the cities themselves.   On a positive note I see that people are allowed to bring their pets in the evacuation.  This will save many lives, both human and otherwise.  Good decision by the planners.
Prayers for NOLA.
Diane Campbell
San Pedro Town
Ambergris Caye

- Ambergris Caye Saturday
  • From: "Diane Campbell" <diane at dianecampbell.net>
  • Date: Sat, 30 Aug 2008 09:38:39 -0600
With great concern we have watched the ever-wobbling "cone of uncertainty" projected by Gustav.    (This week Dr. Jeff Masters pointed out that only 2/3 of the times do the hurricanes stay inside that cone - one more bit of information for us worry-warts to file away in our memory banks.)    
Our hearts go out to those affected in DR, Haiti and Cayman ......... and those to be affected soon in Cuba.    For New Orleans we offer a prayer.  It's sickening to contemplate Gustav getting even close. 
For those who are watching and wondering what (if any) effect Gustav has had here in Belize .............   Last night a bit of thunder and a short but intense rainstorm on Ambergris Caye.  It's been really dry lately so the rain was welcome.  It's still really really hot.  The seaweed that floats in looks par-boiled and the water along the shore feels like a hot tub.
Today the sea to the east is flat calm, the tide is very high, and the winds are coming from the west.  The west-wind is unusual.   
Belize celebrates two major national holidays in September.  St. George's Caye Day on the 10th, and Independence Day on the 21st.  The whole month is dedicated to celebrations of one kind or another with parades, carnivals, competitions.   That's probably good because it keeps us from jumping out of our skins fretting about storm season.  If one comes for real we will be ready and if not we will be busy with music, food and dance.   Tonight is the Miss San Pedro Pageant.  Hopefully we won't be rained out - like all of our celebrations,  this one is outside at the old football field.   

- Emailing: Hurricane Planning - August 08
  • From: "Diane Campbell" <diane at dianecampbell.net>
  • Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2008 07:38:22 -0600
Hi Again -
I'm attaching the Hurricane Planning advisory we prepared for our island and neighborhood. 
I hope that is technically the right way to share this with you!
Some of the details are clearly specific to Ambergris Caye, but most are useful guidelines elsewhere.
The message is ready to be sent with the following file or link attachments:
Hurricane Planning - August 08

Note: To protect against computer viruses, e-mail programs may prevent sending or receiving certain types of file attachments.  Check your e-mail security settings to determine how attachments are handled.

Attachment: Hurricane Planning - August 08.doc
Description: MS-Word document

- wondering about invest 94?
  • From: "Diane Campbell" <diane at dianecampbell.net>
  • Date: Sun, 24 Aug 2008 07:21:38 -0600
The weather on Ambergris Caye today is (as yesterday and the day before) hot, dry, clear and with very light breezes.  Sunrises are fantastic.  The strong sun and lack of rain is burning the leaves of many plants that are normally green and lush at this time of year, but I suspect the rains will visit us soon enough. 
I have questions about our current area of concern - Invest 94 ----------
what will it become and where .............. and how do they name these things? 
Seems we already had an invest 94 - or a 94L that turned into Dolly, no?
Awareness campaign -
We have a casual neighborhood association that is working on a comprehensive directory (including physical map) of residences, residents, phone, e-mail and radio contact info.  Also on that list we have noted resources - for instance who has medical training, who has a generator, who is a boat captain etc.   This is being shared with all neighbors, with police and NEMO (national emergency management organization) to assist in emergency response.     
In addition, we assembled and distributed a list of hurricane websites (stormcarib and the wonderful tool of "how close can it get" are definitely included); and a comprehensive step-by-step outline of how to prepare for a storm, all distributed to our mail list.   The head of NEMO met with interested neighbors to explain how NEMO works and what we can expect from this organization.    Individuals are asked to notify the area chairman of NEMO about or plans to go or stay in the event of a storm - this is intended to aid NEMO in knowing who to rescue should rescue be necessary.  I will try to post a link to the storm-preparation outline in hopes that it will be of use to everybody - even those of us who have been through some big storms tend to forget some elements of planning and having a checklist proves useful. 
Stay dry and keep in touch!
Diane Campbell
Ambergris Caye

- Floods and Rain
  • From: "Diane Campbell" <diane at dianecampbell.net>
  • Date: Fri, 27 Jun 2008 07:40:51 -0600
A wild and wet tropical wave crossed the country last night.   
We've had brief strong storms off and on all week, but last night was something else altogether.  The big hit slammed into us about 7pm and kept up all night long.   Thunder and lightening, strong winds.   Rivers that flooded so badly in TS Arthur are now rising again.  The temporary crossing at Kendall Bridge was destroyed yesterday - and that was before the tropical wave hit last night.  Mullins causeway is under water.  This effectively cuts the south of the country off from the north again.  Belize Defense Force has been deployed to run people across Kendall River by boat. 
Warnings for New River and Rio Hondo to rise significantly over the next day or two. 
We can confirm that at least 3 inches of rain fell in our area of Ambergris Caye, and power is out in our neighborhood.    
The sports report on LoveFM referred to weekend "wetball" games ........ Up in the mountains the locals report unusually cool weather and strong winds.   Meteorological service said this is due to a downdraft related to the thunderheads.  
Buoys at Swan Island report sustained winds of 21 kts and gusts to 25 kts.  Relatively high pressure accompanies this weather system.   Seas are rough. 
Predictions are for weather to clear tomorrow. 

- Situation Report #4 - Flooding in Belize
  • From: <webmaster at cdera.org>
  • Date: 5 Jun 2008 21:11:26 -0000

Northern Belize is bracing for floods whilst Southern Belize continues the recovery process after four (4) days of flooding.

Please see attached.

Attachment: SITREP%204%20Final.doc
Description: MS-Word document

- Situation Report # 3 - Flooding in Belize
  • From: <webmaster at cdera.org>
  • Date: 4 Jun 2008 17:10:40 -0000

Message: Belize districts affected by floods declared disaster areas.

Please see attached.

Attachment: SITREP%203.pdf
Description: Adobe PDF document

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