Cleanup, reconstruction and re-installation of infra-structure is going
ahead somewhat faster by a week, than I originally expected in the
Caye Caulker is behind because of several reasons. On San Pedro, they
get electricity from an undersea cable from the mainland. On Caye
Caulker it is a generator plant at the back of the island. It was only a
few weeks old and of increased size and it is a terrible loss to BEL.
But the rumor is, that a new generator is on the way, or will be soon, by
Curfew to prevent looting, the limited number of deaths, scurrilous
rumors about more deaths and complaints by the occasional British
serviceman, obviously out of his element are to be ignored, as they do
not represent a true picture of what is happening on the ground.
Local Village Council and Town Council Emergency Committees are on top
of the food and water problems. They are in control of the situation in
partnership with the national government in Belmopan. They only have to
ask and it is forthcoming! No stops are being set by the national
government. All in all, everything is going very well. The Prime
Minister even took time to order Customs to let in relief supplies duty
free sent directly to the Emergency Committees after some complaints and
misunderstandings from the Hurricane Message Board. You can only get so
much done in a 12 hour day of daylight. Far as I am concerned, the
cleanup and reconstruction is running about four to five days ahead of
where I expected them to be at this time. This was due to the VERY
PROMPT response by the local Hurricane Emergency Committee NEMO and the
politicians in Belmopan. They literally had people enroute to the
islands by boat, before the hurricane had even left the country.
Accelerating the services to the needy, has been the donations from the
Hurricane Message Board readers who donated considerable sums of money
through an emergency account setup. This money is allowing a lot of
things to be done rapidly that would normally be held up while going
through official channels. It's great the indepence that a little money
will do for Emergency Committees.
Telephone has partially been restored, in and out of San Pedro. Right
now, only outgoing calls are available from Caye Caulker. If your loved
ones don't call you, there is not much we can do about it, at this point
in time. San Pedro has both telephone, water and electricity to parts.
The circle of services is widening daily at a steady pace. Planes and
boats are coming and going. Caye Caulker is getting both plane and boat
traffic also. Though it is more sporadic. The situation will clear up,
when locals get their outboard motor problems cleared up, one way or
another. Either fixed, or replaced by loans or grants. Telephone service
though is only outgoing.
The losses by people uninsured and the businesses and homes wiped out,
are very tragic and will take years probably to recover. Emergency
housing and assistance is obviously only a short term solution. But,
what can be done, is being done.
The tourism operations on which much of the economy locally is based
will be functional by Dec. 1st and in many cases a lot earlier by many
places. The island itself will continue to be a mess for a couple of
months and cleanup will be a never ending task for a considerable time.
Whether or not, some hardy tourist souls wish to go down now for tourism,
or not, is entirely an individual choice. But there is no reason why
not, provided they do understand, that things are a mess yet, services
limited, particularly on Caye Caulker. But some tourist boats are
operational, the water orientated sports like scuba very much viable and
waiting and cold beer, rum and coke is also there. Your evenings may be
dull with curfew and it is not a destination yet for those of faint
heart, or desirous of a posh destination without piles of debris around.
Some restaurants are operational but curtailed in evening hours by the 8
p.m., curfew. This is not expected to last much more than another couple
Feel good at heart! Recovery is a long process, but in this instance,
it is going fast, at a pace that has just got to be the envy of every
other country in the Caribbean and Latin America. A small growing steady
flow of tourists would not be amiss and probably do more pyschologically
for the local recovery effort than any amount of emergency aid. It would
restore their hopes and faith that there is a future after Hurricane
Keith and provide both moral support and cash flow to the destroyed local
economy and enable some jobs.
6 a.m. EST, by Ray Auxillou, Belize Development Trust of Caye Caulker.