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#419384 - 10/21/11 01:09 PM Hattie 50th Anniversary Commemorated
Marty Offline
Fifty years ago, one of the most powerful hurricanes of the last century veered off its northerly predicted course, and slammed into the country of Belize, killing hundreds, displacing thousands, and crippling the economy of the country.

Described as a catastrophic Category 5 hurricane, Hurricane Hattie's might and force on that fateful day of October 31st, 1961 left an indelible mark in the landscape of the old capital - in fact it made it the old capital! So powerful was Hattie's impact and so thorough the destruction, that plans to relocate the capital were immediately put into place.

Indeed, Hattie left Belizeans with a new respect for the destructive force of Mother Nature. Now, the images captured of Hattie's aftermath, have been carefully compiled and curated to memorialize the catastrophic moment in the country's history. This afternoon, the media was given a special preview of the Exhibit titled "Eye of the Storm: Hurricane Hattie 50 years later", and Seven News was there.

Shari Williams
"Definitely whether people agree or not we have to all agree that the phenomena of Hurricane Hattie change the course of Belizean history. In 1961 - you have to understand the atmosphere of what Belize City was like. In March of that year they had just held a general election, in September they had celebrate the hundred and sixty third anniversary of the battle of St. George's Caye. The atmosphere in 1961 in Belize was that of a new nation being form. People were ready to build their new nation and then in October of that year, the entire atmosphere of the entire country change after the devastation known as Hurricane Hattie. In 1961 as we all know Hurricane Hattie imploded on the entire country of Belize. it had winds of 165 mph with wind gust of over 200 mph, there were torrential rains, it had huge flooding, it really change people's attitude at that point. It devastated and simply destroyed the entire country of Belize in particular Belize City and so it was very important for us the Museum of Belize along with the Craig Family collection as well as the Belize Archive and Records to look back fifty years and see where we are as a nation and were we were then in 1962 after this devastation."

Jim McFadzean
"And for those who never lived the experience obviously chronicles of the aftermath and the way the people had to rebound from such a crisis. Hattieville and our new capital are results of that said storm."

Shari Williams
"Definitely like I said Hurricane Hattie actually changes the course of Belizean history. Several communities came up; like you said Hattieville we have Silk Grass and of course our Capital was changed from Belize City to Belmopan, so whether we agree or not Hurricane Hattie changes the course of our history. We want share especially with school children and the younger generation in Belize of what it was like in 1961, so by coming and seeing this exhibit they actually get a feel of what the devastation was like, they get of what the resilience of the Belizean people, because coming back from that was definitely a struggle."

The exhibit is the result of a partnership with the Museum of Belize, the Craig Family and the Belize Archives and Records Services. Williams says the exhibit will be officially opened to the public starting Monday of next week.

Channel 7


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#419399 - 10/21/11 01:51 PM Re: Hattie 50th Anniversary Commemorated [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Hurricane Hattie; 50 years after

Hurricane Hattie was one of the worst to hit Belize. It caused untold destruction and human loss. The Museum of Belize, Belize Archives and Records as well as the Craig Family have compiled photographs and other images that tell the story of the pre and post hurricane Hattie. That exhibition opens on Monday, but today News Five’s Delahnie Bain got a peak of wanton destruction caused by the hurricane.

Delahnie Bain, Reporting

In 1961 Belize experienced the most dreadful Halloween, when Hurricane Hattie ravaged the country. The category five storm left hundreds dead and turned entire communities into rubble at a time that was to be celebratory and when the people had high hopes for change in the country.

Shari Williams, Communications Officer, NICH

Shari Williams

“In 1961 the atmosphere of Belize was an atmosphere of nation building; people were ready for a change. In March of that year, they’d had a general election and selected a new government. They had just celebrated the hundred and sixty-third anniversary of the Battle of St. George’s Caye and so people had a vision of a new Belize. And in October of that year after Hurricane Hattie devastated the country, the entire atmosphere of the people changed.”

The atmosphere became one of sorrow and survival; while some tried to pick up the pieces, others resorted to looting and violence. It is among the worst natural disasters in the country’s history, causing millions of dollars in damages. And now, fifty years later, an exhibit is being launched at the Museum of Belize highlighting both the destruction and recovery.

Shari Williams

“The Museum of Belize in collaboration with the Craig family collection and the National Archives and Records are proud to present a new exhibit. It’s called the Eye of the Storm; Hurricane Hattie 50 Years Later. We felt that it was very important to look back fifty years after Hurricane Hattie. And you might be wondering why Hurricane Hattie because in the course of our history we’ve have about sixteen hurricanes. Well we felt that hurricane Hattie was one of those hurricanes that changed the course of Belizean history. Hurricane Hattie with wind gusts of over two hundred miles per hour, it devastated Belize. Approximately three hundred people died; devastation was reported from north to south, from Corozal to Toledo. So it was very, very important to look back and see how we have grown as a nation.”

The development since Hattie includes not only rebuilding, but the emergence of new communities.

Shari Williams

“Silk Grass was one of those communities that developed after hurricane Hattie. I didn’t know that. So we have communities that came forth after hurricane Hattie, like Hattieville as we all know. The capital changed from Belize City to Belmopan. So Hurricane Hattie was definitely one of those hurricanes that change the course of our nation history and so it was important to depict that. It was very important to share with especially the younger generation what it was like and the resilience of the Belizean people in picking up the pieces and moving from there. It is a lot of information and the curators actually went a step further, beyond that and a part of the exhibit is about all the hurricanes. It’s about preparations and all the rest of it and there’s a section of it that deals only with Hurricane Hattie so there’s an introduction to the hurricanes that have hit Belize over the years and then it goes right into Hattie. Definitely we couldn’t share everything and there is new information coming on every day.”

The detailed exhibit serves as a valuable history lesson and Shari Williams, the Communications Officer for the National Institute of Culture and History, is encouraging schools to bring out their students to view it.

Shari Williams

“It officially opens next week and it’s going to be here for quite some time so we invite people, especially the schools, bring in the school children. It’s a wonderful exhibition, it portrays—it’s a lot of, lot of information to garner from it so we’re inviting people to drop in at your convenience and take your time and walk through the exhibit. One thing I really like is that there’s an actual shack that’s built and you can actually go inside and stand and feel what the winds were like in 1961 during hurricane Hattie.”

An invitation is also extended to anyone who might have items from the time of Hurricane Hattie to add to the exhibit. Delahnie Bain for News Five.

The Museum is opened from Tuesday to Saturday, eight a.m. to four-thirty p.m.

Channel 5


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#420713 - 11/02/11 01:57 PM Re: Hattie 50th Anniversary Commemorated [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Hattie, 50 years ago

Hurricane Hattie, which struck Belize City, Stann Creek Town, and all points in between, some fifty years ago on October 31, 1961, caused major, irreversible changes in Belize, which was then the colony of British Honduras. Even though the September 10, 1931 hurricane, whose eye demolished Belize Town, killed ten times as many as Hattie did, Hattie was more significant, in that Hattie changed our history in this settlement.

After Hattie, people in the capital began building out of reinforced concrete, the PUP government of First Minister George C. Price committed to building a new capital inland, and, perhaps most important historically, the ancient trickle of Belizean migration to the United States became a flood, an exodus in fact.

In a decision which is even more remarkable now, when viewed through the prism of fifty years of history, the United States Consulate in Belize announced a few days after Hattie that all those Belizeans who had relatives living in the United States would be allowed to fly to those relatives in the States. We do not even remember, if we ever knew, if the permission to migrate had any conditionalities, such as until the situation in Belize became normalized. We do not know if Belizeans had to buy airline tickets, or if the Consulate made airplanes available. For sure, where Belizeans in America were most numerous in 1961 were New York City, Chicago, and New Orleans. Los Angeles was just becoming a big deal in 1961, and today, fifty years later, L.A. may now be the biggest Belizean deal of all.

Over the thirty years from 1961 to 1991, the demographic of Belize changed in a visible and dramatic way. The majority black colony became a Hispanic independent nation. This process began with Hattie, and it is evidence of the weak intellectual life we have in Belize that Hattie and the migration have not been the focus of the research, analysis, and discussion that they should have been and should still be.

One of the reasons for the hostility of the Central American republics to Belizeans’ sovereign ambitions had been the majority black population, which leaders and thinkers in Central America considered an incongruous ethnic reality which imperial Great Britain had imposed on the region. Around 1978, when Panama’s General Omar Torrijos became the first Central American leader to endorse Belize’s aspirations for self-determination and independence, the composition of our population had changed enough that the Guatemalans, who claimed the territory of Belize was theirs by legacy from Spain, could not raise the bogeyman of blackness in Belize as successfully as they had been doing before. In a sense, perhaps, in contributing to the changing of the demographic of Belize, Hattie contributed to the political independence of Belize.

Before the self-governing colony of British Honduras officially became known as Belize in 1973, what we know today as Belize City was just plain Belize. And the capital of Belize, which housed one third of the population of British Honduras in 1961, dominated the overall life of the colony. The capital dominated public administration, education, banking, the media, sports, and everything else you could think of. The road system was horrible in 1961. It took six, seven hours to reach places like Corozal Town and Stann Creek Town from the capital, and literally all day to reach Punta Gorda. Children whose parents wished for them to attend high school, had to come in from the districts to live in Belize. It was as if they were entering a different world in the capital.

Today, while Belize City has grown and spread impressively over the five decades since Hattie, its prestige has declined massively. Belize City, whose families were tight and disciplined before Hurricane Hattie, is now notorious in the rest of Belize as a place where young people are involved in crime, violence, and murder to a horrifying degree. Even before the seat of government and public administration moved to Belmopan in 1970, the humbling of the arrogant city folk had begun. In the late 1960’s, a small sugar village in Corozal by the name of San Joaquin began to win the annual football tournament sponsored in Belize City. Cayo and Stann Creek had challenged Belize City football in the years before, but it was San Joaquin which triumphed. Things were never the same in Belizean football after San Joaquin. The districts had arisen. And Belize was never the same as a city after Hattie.

After Hurricane Hattie, the people of Belize became immersed, whether consciously, subconsciously, or unconsciously, in the process of becoming Americanized. It was a slow process, but, with the benefit of fifty years of hindsight, one can see where we Belizeans became absorbed in the overpowering reality of the colossus which was becoming the most powerful nationin the world, the colossus just six hundred miles away from us. In a sense, after Hattie all of us ended up becoming Belizean Americans. We were too small to fight. Hattie destroyed our bearings, and we ended up all over the place in America. Thus, Hattie changed our history. Things will never be the same again.

LOVEFM

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#457197 - 02/04/13 02:24 PM Re: Hattie 50th Anniversary Commemorated [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Old news video from Hattie, 30 sec.


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