Heavy rains put Kendal under watch
The rainy season is not set to start until June, but already the southern part of Belize is being drenched by heavy rains, nudging the Ministry of Works to issue an advisory today for motorists to monitor rising waters at the Kendal crossing over the Sittee River in Stann Creek.
The fatal floods of 2008 are still a vivid and haunting memory in the minds of many, and so officials in the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) and the Ministry of Works are keeping a keen eye on the situation, particularly in light of how Tropical Storm Arthur exploded over Belize at the start of last year’s rainy season with little warning, taking multiple lives in the process.
Speaking with Amandala late this evening, Colonel George Lovell, NEMO’s national coordinator, said that at 5:00 p.m. today, the waters at Kendal had been rising at 9 inches an hour and are expected to continue rising into the night, with waters from the weekend’s rains continuing to flow down from the Stann Creek mountains.
Lovell advises travelers to stay in-tuned to the advisories issued by the Chief Engineer, Lennox Bradley.
Bradley told Amandala tonight that as of 7:30 p.m., flood waters were right below the temporary bridge, and if the waters continue to rise, the bridge would have to be closed to traffic.
The Government of Belize had last year erected a temporary bridge at Kendal, replacing the lower causeway crossing, which, officials say, was about to go under water at press time.
Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Works, Cadet Henderson, told Amandala tonight that his people were on the ground keeping a close watch of the situation, but traffic was still flowing unimpeded across the bridge.
According to Henderson, they will issue their next update first thing Tuesday morning.
He informed us that the Government does plan to replace the Kendal and Mullins River bridges, destroyed in the floods of Tropical Depression #16 last October, with more permanent structures. However, a foreign consultant would be engaged as per GOB’s agreement with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
Henderson advises travelers also to stay on the alert and monitor the situation, as the area in question is prone to flashfloods.
Amandala understands from Toledo sources that rains in that district had also caused flooding in Jacintoville over the weekend, but with the abatement of the rains, the situation there has improved and suspended bus runs resumed today.
National Weather Service forecaster, Frank Tench, Jr., told Amandala that there was plenty of rain in the south of Belize over the weekend, and if the rains continue at this pace, they could exceed their record levels for May.
Tench says that experts are predicting an early and unusually wet rainy season this year.
Belize’s rainy season runs from June to November.