More flooding expected in the Cayo District
Over the weekend, hurricane Julia slammed into Nicaragua and brought heavy rains to Central America. The storm led to several areas of Belize being affected by flooding. One of those areas was the Cayo District where several communities were severely impacted. Reporter Vejea Alvarez and cameraman Brian Castillo were out west over the past 48 hours and have the story.
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Tonight, 25 residents from the border village of Calla Creek, Cayo will be spending their night inside this church along with the belongings they were able to save. The three families were forced to evacuate yesterday after the rising waters of the Mopan River swept into their homes. 71-year-old Isaac Uck explained that he, his elderly wife and their grandchild sought refuge after about 2 feet of water rushed into their living room.
Isaac Uck, Calla Creek Resident: “The flood came suddenly and we had to move. We didn’t get any chance to pick up and pack things and throw it on the top of the house. We couldn’t do that because it was raining and the flood came suddenly and we just packed about two dresses to dress ourselves, me and my wife and my grandson. We got up and had to move immediately because the water was coming fast. We have a little canoe we put just our things that we have to wear and brought it up here to the church.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: While Uck is hoping that the waters will recede, according Minister of Disaster Risk Management Orlando Habet, the village may suffer more flooding due to rains in neighboring Guatemala.
Orlando Habet, Minister of Disaster Risk Management: “I was out there about twelve midday, the water was about thirty feet from under one of the larger stores and I went out to the villages of Santa Familia and Billy White and by the time I came back two hours later the water was like a hundred feet away from the store so the waters really came down quickly. Then we understand that the waters, it’s still raining in Guatemala so whilst the Macal can start receding a little the Mopan usually takes longer to go down because of the water coming from across the border.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: And the persistent rains brought by Hurricane Julia did not only lead to the Mopan River spilling over its banks but the Macal River as well. This was the scene in downtown San Ignacio on Monday evening. Persons traversing waist high waters to save their products and equipment from being washed away and destroyed by the flood. The area, which includes the Market square and welcome center, was completely inundated by rising waters of the adjacent waterway. The situation forced all businesses in the area to close up shop and evacuate. Kenneth Tzib was one those business owners. As he frantically packed up the equipment from inside his bakery he spoke to Love News about the devastating effects of the flood.
Kenneth Tzib, Business Owner: “From morning we decided to come and take out a few things from our bakery. Well we decided to take out everything but it was not enough time. As you see the water is rising very quickly so we managed to take out a few things but not everything and it’s a big loss for us because we are losing business one day, two day, it’s a lot for us plus our employees we have to pay more employees so they can help us to take out everything so it’s very hard for us.
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: How long are you expecting to stay closed due to the rain ?
Kenneth Tzib, Business Owner: “Well usually we stay closed for one week or two weeks it all depends because after everything we have to clean out, wash and make sure everything is very tidy so we can start working again.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Fortunately for Tzib and the other vendors in the area by day break this morning majority of the water had receded. And, by 8 o’clock the businesses owners and the fire department had launched a cleanup campaign.
Earl Trapp, Mayor of San Ignacio/ Santa Elena: “We have had our crews out here, our own water truck we have the fire services that are assisting us as well and of course we try to mobilize as much of our human resources out here and if I think you may have noticed or videoed maybe even the market itself is almost ready. So I spoke to the market manager about half an hour ago and he is planning to get everything cleaned up before he relocates the people back from Falcon Field back into the market.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: Residents living along the river in Bullet Tree Village were also forced out of their homes, many of whom today received assistance from NEMO and the San Ignacio Town Council who sent water trucks and food packages to those affected according to Retired Lieutenant Colonel Shelton Defour, NEMO’s National Coordinator.
Rt.Lt. Col.Shelton Defour, NEMO National Coordinator: “The shelterees as we refer to people who are in the shelters were adequately supported with the basic food packs and things that we have and water as was requested late yesterday evening for the community of Bullet Tree where they had a water problem so we had to quickly truck out some water so that the residents who are affected could have access to potable drinking water and as we speak we have teams going out right now with members of the security forces along with the relief supplies community representatives out in Cayo distributing food to the affected population.”
Vejea Alvarez, Love News: In Benque Viejo Del Carmen Town flooding mostly affected those residing in the Border Road area. Persons from the close-knit community went out in droves to clear drains and culverts to mitigate the flooding. However, while the concern for the Cayo District has lessened somewhat, the National Emergency Management Organization says it is keeping a close eye on the communities located on the banks of the districts most important waterways. Vejea Alvarez, Love News.