Living Through Storms Part II

s much as I try to write something that does not have to do with hurricanes, I cannot seem to take my mind off that subject. In 1961, I was ten years old and I can recall several things that were very different in the aftermath of Hurricane Hattie. First of all in the clean up campaign, there were no government trucks or bulldozers. There was a lot of thatch on Pescador Drive that was the back street. The rest of the place was mangrove. Now Front Street or Barrier Reef Street did have wood and zinc roofing debris all over the place. The entire village was from the cemetery to the elementary school and in a short while it was all cleaned up. There were no electrical lines on the streets to be dismantled, nor telephones lines, nor television cables. There were a few light poles, about 15 foot high, and they remained standing.

In 1961 people did not board windows and doors with shutters for everything was of wood already. What they did was to tie some ropes over the thatch rooftops and nailed a few braces from the walls to the ground for added strength.

Three days after the storm, helicopters landed in San Pedro right on the beach in front of Central Park bringing water and food. There was rice, beans, flour, canned goods, powdered milk by the barrels and powdered egg by the barrels also. People had never seen powdered egg and had a good time with it. You simply put a cup in a bowl, added some water, and made a delicious omelet. People also had a ball watching the helicopters land in San Pedro for planes had not yet reached the island.

The distribution of food was very simple and gave rise to no criticism, no hard feelings, and no complaints. The people simply made a line at the police station where the food was distributed. If the dad or mom could not go, they sent their children and they got their rations for three or five days. Mr. Fido Nunez, chairman, the police officer, the primary school principal and Mr. Dimas Guerrero, volunteer, disbursed the supplies in one afternoon, after all the population was of about 500. They knew every family in San Pedro, and once you got your share, you could not get a second ration of goods.

Today there are many unemployed waiting to return to their jobs at hotels, restaurants, etc. After Hurricane Hattie in 1961, there was no unemployment. Fishermen could go scuba diving for lobsters one week later. Others patched up a wire fishing trap and fabricated the crawfish traps and were soon back in action in the fishing industry.

Today the town's people are anxiously waiting for electricity to reach their homes. Not so twenty five years ago. Others are eager for the telephones. Still yet, others are dying for the cable T.V. to be installed, but after Hattie, we had not yet even seen a television set, much less a T.V. program. How about water? Yes, the wells were all salty and we had to bail them out several times until they regained their freshness after a week or so. Most of the clothing came from the United States, and to tell the truth, we were all dressed in a different manner. What was indeed similar was the spirit to rebuild. That was the same then as it is today. There was no NEMO organizing things, but all the people got together and re-build they did.

On the final note, Hattie was as strange as Keith. Hattie was in the vicinity of Cuba and made one big curve and came to Belize. In this sense, Keith was as crazy as Hattie, went over us, returned and became stationary for over 15 hours and pretended that it would never go. Well, enough on hurricanes. What do you want to talk about next? Tornadoes, earthquakes, or volcanoes?

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