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#472349 - 09/12/13 11:05 AM City Residents Had To Contend With Major Flooding
Marty Offline

MET Office Says Only 2 Inches, But If It Floods Tonight...

Last night, from central to northern Belize the rain poured down in torrents. Here in the city, it seemed like it wouldn’t stop and the water in our clogged-up, drain-deficient city just kept rising and rising.

City residents, especially those on ground floors or in low lying pockets, witnessed buckets of rain – which raised the water level by over a foot. But the MET Office – which had predicted rains - says they only picked up two-plus inches. Here’s the Chief Met Officer:

Dennis Gonguez - Chief Met Officer
"We had some rainfall about 2 to 2 1/2 inches over the Northern parts of the country. Belize City and the International Airport had just about 2 1/2 inches of rainfall and all indications are that we will have some more rainfall but not of the same amounts that we had last night. There will be some decreases, we'll probably get to about two inches of rainfall during the morning time on Thursday with some decreases later on on Thursday afternoon."

Jules Vasquez
"Did you expect such voluminous rainfall?"

Dennis Gonguez
"We get about 2 1/2 inches here in the city and that amount to me is not voluminous, the effects would sort of outweigh the quantity of water that we see. The flooding effects from the rains overshadowed the amount of rainfall that we have seen."

Jules Vasquez
"We know this will be a very active weekend in terms of social activities and celebration activities - we have the expo in Belize City, we have the Carnival as well - will those events be consequentially affected by the rain?"

Dennis Gonguez
"Well beside the saturated ground - it seems that all indications are that as this system moves away, we'll start to see some gradual improvements. So by the time the weekend comes around we should see generally fair weather conditions."

Crispin Jeffries - Deputizing for National Emergency Coordinator
"As we speak the weather forecast is suggesting that things are slowing down but there are other systems already being looked at by the weather center in the United States. So we encourage Belizeans to be more alert and participate in the festivities but be prepared to move."

Dennis Gonguez
"We've just passed the peak of the Hurricane Season yesterday was the statistical peak of the Hurricane season. However, there's a secondary peak in October and at that time we become more vulnerable, end of September into October."

As much as 2 inches of rain is expected tomorrow in Central and particularly northern Belize. The system is moving slowly to the west towards the bay of Campeche.


And vulnerable is just how city residents felt – after water started creeping into their homes. Around 1:00 am, after five hours of non-stop rain, many distress calls went into 9-1-1 – which in turn called the city council – which was not expecting such a serious weather event and had no contingencies in place. Well, that won’t happen again tonight; they say they are ready – after learning of those distress calls last night:..


Wayne Usher - CEMO Liaison Officer
"People were calling from King Street, Western Avenue, Jane Usher Boulevard, Euphrates Avenue - publicly asking what to do about the waters that were reaching up to their beds in their homes and if the council had any plans to open any shelters because they were fearing from the rising waters. We had a member of staff at the Belize City Council who was exactly in that predicament and we asked that person to please tell us what she did. She monitored the water levels rising, she took all her children unto one bed, she phoned to see if her pastor was available because if need be she would have gone to the church but he wasn't available. Her mother who lives next door was also flooded so she couldn't go there. She related to us what several other people were feeling last night and experiencing so the council had to do something - we can't just leave things like that to happen, hence our meeting this morning. We will now set in place what happens from here on in the event of a flood situation in Belize City."


Phillip Willoughby - City Councilor - CEMO
"There will be a partial activation of the Belize City EOC here at our head office, whereby an emergency task force will be put into operation to provide logistical support where needed for residence of the city to evacuate. Police officers will be assigned to our EOC at 5:00 o’clock to provide security services as we implement and execute the plan of action. The contact numbers are for any resident of Belize City to contact us here at the EOC - 227-2308, 227-2622, 227-2308, 227-3073 and 227-7205. After communicating with the EOC or the various other agencies who provide emergency support - they will be then transported the the Bishop Sylvester Memorial Center where they will be housed for a short period of time."


Those numbers again are:
227-2308
227-2622
227-3073
227-7205.

Those going to the shelter will have to take their own provisions. In the medium term, the city plans to set up an Emergency Response Team. Additionally, in the future, the MET Office will contact the city council when extreme weather is a possibility….

Channel 7


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#472358 - 09/12/13 11:36 AM Re: City Residents Had To Contend With Major Flooding [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline
Weather Bureau Warned of Torrential Rains; City Council Ignored Warning

Marion Ali, Reporting

Torrential rains fell over Belize City and other areas of the country over Sunday night and it caused severe flooding in low-lying areas of the old capital. A number of streets in the city were impassable for a few hours on Tuesday night but by this morning, the water had dissipated. Weather forecasters predicted the torrential rains.

Dennis Gonguez, Chief Meteorologist

“A broad area of low pressure exists over the northwestern Caribbean; the centre of this system is presently over the Orange Walk District. Since the system is over land, there’s no potential for it to develop further. We had some rainfall amounting to 2 – 21/2 inches over the northern parts of the country; we had forecast the amounts of rainfall indeed.”

MARION ALI

But while the Met Service warned of the rains that caused some residents to experience flooding into their homes, CEMO had not activated a plan of action because they did not expect so much water in so little time.

Philip Willoughby, Councilor, Belize City

“We did not expect right off, the amount and the volumes of rain that the MET office is telling us took place last night but once we are notified automatically, we know what we ought to do and we will execute what we have to do.”

Wayne Usher, Liaison Officer, CEMO

“A freak event, I would say because we did not expect so much heavy rains in such a sustained amount of time.”

MARION ALI

Tuesday night’s rains also prompted CEMO to spun into action and to prioritize the formation of an Emergency Response Team comprising eight persons from the relevant agencies.

Wayne Usher

“The Emergency Response Team will be a special unit with qualified persons who will be able to go out there; field workers, people with expertise who can go out there and make quick decisions and who can weather the storm; not like me because I am too old to go out there. We will have good, strong people on the ERT and that team will move for any emergencies and of course, we will have the vehicles to go along with them.”

Philip Willoughby

“There will be a partial activation of the Belize City Council EOC here at our head office whereby an emergency task force will be put into operation to provide logistical support where needed for residents of the City to evacuate. Police officers will be assigned to our EOC at five o’clock to provide security services.”

MARION ALI

But even with the Council’s plan now in place, the forecast for the next 24 hours calls for even more rain.

Dennis Gonguez

“We expect about two inches come tomorrow morning; I would say after midnight tonight towards dawn the rain should pick up again and about two inches around this time tomorrow.”

MARION ALI

If the coming rains displace anyone in the City, Willoughby says there is a plan to house them temporarily.

Philip Willoughby

“After communicating with the EOC or the various other agencies who provide emergency support, they will then be transported to Bishop Memorial Centre where they will be housed for a short period of time until the low pressure system provides them to be there and immediately after the system dissipates they will be taken back to their homes. This is not a long term shelter and I would like to ask the residents to take supplies and provisions for themselves as none of that would be provided.”

MARION ALI

CEMO warns, however, that in the event there is too much flooding in an area when a call is made for rescue, CEMO will not endanger the lives of its personnel, but will dispatch help as soon as the weather and flooding situation lighten up. Residents who may need to call for help can call CEMO at 227 2308, 227 2622.

LOVEFM

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#472430 - 09/13/13 11:31 AM Re: City Residents Had To Contend With Major Flooding [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

Cemented streets without proper drainage… flooding in the City

In many areas of the City, residents are pulling out their rubber boots so they can exit or access their homes. The heavy rains in the past couple days have caused flooding and there is still more rain predicted for the weekend. The problem seems to be that while residents can boast about beautiful new cement streets, there’s a pesky little thing the Council forgot…called drainage. On the outside that may seem like a sick joke, but for those whose homes are being flooded whenever it rains, it is no laughing matter. Today News Five’s Duane Moody visited some of the affected areas in the city and has the story.

Duane Moody, Reporting

The Belize City Council embarked on a massive reconstruction of streets throughout the City.  But the downpour over the past two days is showing that the lack of drainage presents a huge problem. Around the city, several houses and yards are inundated and residents must wade through the waters to get in and out of their homes.

Lenard Young, Yard Flooded

Lenard Young

“When dehn fix the street, dehn neva put the drainage thing in the street that’s why ih flow back the water like this.”

Duane Moody

“This is the first time that something like this…”

Lenard Young

“Yah, the yard wasn’t like this. If you notice whole of that was cement. But I neva had time to chop it or anything because the water is too high. From the rainy season start and from the time the street was fixed.  If you notice from that side to down there, it’s mostly the area that is flooded.”

Linvorine King

Linvorine King, Yard Flooded

“Dah di drains; the drain stop up.”

Duane Moody

“Since when it started to rise?”

Linvorine King

“Mussi bout wah hour after ih start to rain, water get ina mi house.”

Duane Moody

“Damage up your furniture?”

Linvorine King

“Only the bottom mi wet. And mi carpet mi wet so I had to take it out.”

Some residents have pallets and cement blocks forming walkways to exit and access their homes. For Dona Cayetano, she lives in the lower flat of this two story house at the corner of Zacaranda and Oleander Streets. Her house is currently under two to three inches of water.

Dona Cayetano, House Flooded

“From it started to rain I notice…I glad about the street, but then the thing is now about the drainage and I know fir a fact dah because of the drainage problem that dah weh cause this. Dehn noh have no drain so the water noh got no way to go so it just come into my hosue. It raise up to five inches today. So today it is at about three inches.”

Duane Moody

“What are you going to do, the water level is high and it’s not going down?”

Dona Cayetano

Dona Cayetano

“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know and I can’t bail out this water yah. I noh know how I wah bail this out. I noh know what to do. I noh di say downstairs yah neva tek water because I live yah almost thirteen years and dah downstairs I live. I noh say I neva does have problem with a little water, but it get worse. It get worse after building the street.”

Over on Fern Lane, residents say that they are concerned for students having to traverse through the murky waters to get to school. According to Stephanie Noralez, while they are grateful for the main street being cemented, the improper drainage and the stagnant waters can pose a health hazard.

Stephanie Noralez, Resident

Stephanie Noralez

“This is Saint Martin’s, we know that this an area that people don’t really care about. I just would like that they worry about the environment itself. We could catch itch. The health is the biggest issue here. I don’t want to be walking in no water like this; the septic in the yard. It is what you have to face whenever it rains. It’s really frustrating.”

Acting mayor, Bernard Q. Pitts Junior, says that the council has received several concerns and that a work team is out looking at the issue and will rectify the problem.

Bernard Q. Pitts Jr.

Bernard Q. Pitts Junior, Acting Belize City Mayor

“We have been actively out there with our works crew checking those specific areas that were mentioned to us. Most of the streets, the waters have resided quite quickly and so we look at those more urgently where the waters were backed up. Currently right now, we have our works team out with their crew and as well with the fire truck to try and pump up whatever debris is in the drains. But so far we have it under control and we have majority of the waters from those areas running off right now as we speak.”

Channel 5


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#472437 - 09/13/13 11:54 AM Re: City Residents Had To Contend With Major Flooding [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

City Flooding Results in New CEMO Taskforce


CEMO and Red Cross Officials in fron of Billboard sample

There is no doubt that climate change is having a serious impact on Belize as minor storms that were once nonthreatening are now causing major damage. A low pressure system crept up on Belize late Tuesday, September 10th, as residents were busy celebrating and paying little attention to weather forecasts.

Chief Meteorologist, Dennis Gonguez, said the system caused two and a half inches of rainfall throughout the night. That wouldn’t normally cause an alarming level of flooding in the city but, based on recent experiences from similar weather systems, there seems to be a new normal. According to Wayne Usher, Representative of the City Emergency Management Organization (CEMO), the rain caused flooding throughout the city and numerous calls were made to emergence response agencies from residents of Jane Usher Boulevard, King Street, Euphrates Avenue and Western Avenue. The dispatch officer on duty alerted Wayne Usher and other CEMO officials as inquiries about shelters increased.

CEMO held an emergency meeting early Wednesday morning, September 11th, to develop a strategy to respond to the immediate needs of residents and prepare for future unexpected disasters. Councilor Phillip Willoughby announced that an emergency taskforce has now been established to respond to the needs of residents that have been displaced by the weather system. Bishop Sylvestre Memorial Center will be opened to house those who need to evacuate their home. Gonguez projects as much as two inches of rainfall on Thursday and an inch on Friday as conditions begin to improve. Crispin Jefferies, representative of the National Emergency Management Organization, says that NEMO is tracking other storms that are approaching the region. To reach the emergency task force in Belize City residents can call 227-2308 or 227-2608. Evacuees should be prepared to provide for themselves, as policy explains, for up to 72 hours.

CEMO also announced a project being launched in coordination with the Belize Red Cross. Lilly Bowman, Executive Director of the Belize Red Cross, announced that they have received over $53,000 from the International Federation, courtesy of a donor, to execute a public awareness campaign on disaster preparedness and response in Belize City. Ten billboards will be placed across the city. The billboards will be twelve by eight feet tall and will feature the meaning of hurricane flags, available shelters in the city and transportation hubs in case of mandatory evacuation. There will also be 80 signs informing residents of flood prone areas and evacuation routes. That project is expected to be completed by December of this year.

The Guardian


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