PHOTOS OF HURRICANE IRIS DAMAGE IN SOUTHERN BELIZE
Click Below for pictures. description of them follows http://www.belizenet.com/iris3/
A third batch from the Honorable Tony and Therese Rath and their websketeers
These photos were taken on Oct 13th - 14th, 2001 during a recon and supply trip to the Toledo District - here is a VERY brief summary of what we found. Please note the following is a copyrighted report and may not be reproduced without the permission of Naturalight Productions:
NEMO - We found the National Emergency Management Organization to be working quite well. We had reports of glitches during the first few days, but when we arrived it worked well for us. We reported to the main office, told them we had trucks, received an inventory list of what and where to carry the supplies. They had flow charts and spreadsheets of all the villages, populations and needs that were constantly updated.
We then moved on to the warehouse which was the gymnasium near the airstrip. There we found customs agents inventorying what came in one door and out the other. Trucks were lined up to carry supplies. Honorable Patty Arceo was tirelessly moving between groups of Mayan Alcaldes explaining the process and assisting them with their needs. At one point, a group of Mayans walked in, grabbed supplies and where walking out. They were politely stopped, Patty Arceo explained the system, they were quickly supplied and were on their way out quickly. The customs officers are from San Pedro, where they had experience from Keith. There was a constant flow of supplies in and out of the warehouse.
The BDF were present but low key, the British soldiers were providing most of the manpower. Belize Minerals Limited provided fork lifts and Brian Holland provided traffic flow. I saw supplies from Mexico and Guatemala arrive in large semi trailers. Priority was given to the British helicopter crews which maintained a constant flow of supplies to the remote or cut off communities. Volunteers were present, but they had to be completely self sufficient and it was implied that no stress be put on the system including food or transportation to the villages. Any violators (and there were some) were more or less ignored.
The supplies were then delivered to community centers in the villages. We were able to carry 4 truckloads to Indian Creek, which was nearly enough food to supply them for the rest of the month. The Alcaldes and their assistants would check in the supplies. Then the supplies were divided so that each and every member of the village received what they need. We saw the piles being made, the articles distributed and talked to villagers who said it was working well.
Food was a major issue. People were a little apprehensive that the flow of food might stop. It looks like this supply line will need to be maintained for a few months. Food was prepared and distributed from a central location in each village, and those that lost their homes were housed in the community buildings. Everything appeared very organized and the people were working together well. Each village had a set of BDF soldiers that kept an extremely low profile, but they were well armed. Every time the camera appeared, they disappeared.
Basically, NEMO was working very well considering the circumstances. Everyone, volunteers and officials, were working without looking for praise or recognition. Egos appeared to have been checked somewhere else. It was hot, humid, no breeze and very unpleasant working conditions. I was dripping wet with sweat from 8 AM. The British soldiers worked bareback.
At one point, during a break, I conversed with a group of officials and brought up some of the criticism that was building on the Internet. To a man/woman, they smiled and said they hope "those people go on criticizing and stay at their computers, because NEMO had a job to do, was doing it and did not need anything to distract or take up their time". I was both proud and impressed with their dedication and determination. These are people that will never receive any recognition, and frankly, I don't think they really care.
Villages - The hardest hit villages we visited were Medina Bank, Indian Creek, Golden Stream, San Antonio, Santa Cruz. In most cases, the homes were flattened. Some of those homes could be pulled back up, but many were burned and will have to be built from scratch. The mood of the villagers was upbeat considering that many lost everything but the clothes on their back. This can be seen from a soccer game that was in progress in Pueblo Viejo village.
Ecology - Iris is an ecological disaster. The forest along the hurricane path is completely flattened. I saw flocks of 20 or more toucans flying from tree skeleton to tree skeleton looking for food. I heard reports that the howler monkeys of Monkey River got hit very hard with only a few animals sited alive. One thing I miss in Belize is views. It is difficult to see very far in Toledo because of the vegetation. Now, you can stand on any hill and see the entire district. I could see Big Falls from San Jose and San Jose from Santa Cruz. There are no forests left.
Mayan Sites - I visited one Mayan site, Nim Li Punit. Every tree was down. When the trees fell, their roots tore up the stones of the temples. Many of the temples were smashed from the fallen trunks. Nim Li Punit will never be the same.
Comparison - For those that would like to compare before and after pictures, check out http://www.southernbelize.com
Fund Raising Images - These images and many others done with film (all these images on this site are low res digital images) are available to authorized fund raising efforts. If you need images, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org information and assistance.
If you have other questions about the photos, please contact Tony Rath at email@example.com.
All Photos Copyright c 2001 Tony Rath Photography
Page 1 - BEL, Forest Damage, Big Falls, Indian Creek, Laguna, Mafredi
Page 2 - Mafredi, NEMO
Page 3 - NEMO, Nim Li Punit
Page 4 - Pueblo Viejo, Rio Blanco, Red Cross, Santa Cruz, Santa Elena
Page 5 - Santa Elena, San Antonio
Page 6 - San Antonio, San Jose, San Miguel