Water rose up to seven inches in the area of the Belize Zoo on the George Price Highway this morning. Students and other commutes were forced to exit their transport and walk through the water to be able to continue their journey. The incessant rains have caused flooding in many areas, but it is a first Mahogany Heights and on a two mile stretch of the highway a culvert caved in due to the velocity of the water. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.
Duane Moody, Reporting
As commuters made their way along the George Price Highway, they would come by an obstacle; some two feet of gushing water inundating the highway between miles twenty-five and twenty-seven. It’s the first time it has happened and buses and other heavier-set vehicles were not allowed to pass. In the case of the buses, its passengers would walk through the waters to get to the other side.
Mark Nolberto, Commuter
“I noh really too happy about James Bus Company because dah pan fi dehn bus we come. Dehn had two bus on the other side of the street weh mi di come from Belize going towards Belmopan weh dehn shoulda mi at least make the people weh mi di come from Dangriga catch that bus to go to Belize City.”
“So now you are walking over, but you don’t have a ride to take you to Belize City?”
“What are you going to do?”
“Well I wah have to hitchhike from yah so to Belize because I have to reach back to Dangriga.”
This according to Chief Engineer at the Ministry of Works and Transport, Lennox Bradley, is as a precaution since one of the culverts were destroyed on both sides by the strong currents of the water.
Lennox Bradley, Chief Engineer, Ministry of Works & Transport
“We got additional reports with our staff on site that one of our culverts is being undermined. And in the interest of trying to protect the safety of road users, we had to block it until we did a more thorough inspection of the culvert that is being undermined. The water was passing at quite a fast pace and so the velocity of the water scored both the entrance and exist of the culvert. And also if you look more closely, the culvert itself midway under the pavement also have been scored. That was the cause of the concern for us. So how we intend to do it right now is allow the small vehicles to pass and then excavate what is there and backfill it will bowlers right now. We cannot install culvert. That’s the ideal thing. We’ll install culverts as soon as the water permits us to install.”
The water flooding the highway is the runoff from higher terrain. Since ten o’clock on Wednesday night, it was raining in the nearby village of La Democracia and Mahogany Heights. This video taken by a resident of the village of Mahogany Heights, show that water levels rose waist high in the yards and streets. Many persons—students and other commuters —had to wade through the waters to get to work and school. It has come as a shocker to many because it never floods in Mahogany Heights.
Dain Kelly, Resident, Mahogany Heights
“It started about two-thirty, three the rise of the water started. So far this morning when we get up, we couldn’t get out of we house because the water was to like almost waist height some parts of the place.”
“Is this the first time that this has ever happened in Mahogany Heights?”
“So far as I know and I’ve been here four to five years and this is the first time that happened to us. We had hurricane, we had storms before and the water receded quite normally, in fact. This trip, we found it a little bit unbearable because the water take a little bit longer than normal to recede.”
For Shaniki Brown, water went inside her house. It rose up to six inches high.
Shaniki Brown, Resident Mahogany Heights
“When I get up, dah straight ina water I gone. Obviously god mi deh with wi because the extension cord mi covered with water. I noh know how I noh get shock up yet up to now. Straight ina water when we gone. When we walk outside, everything mi di float about in the house.”
According Chairlady of the village, Raquel Vega, NEMO as well as Public Health officials were out early monitoring the unusual occurrence. She says that the drainage system added to the water rising.
Raquel Vega, Chairlady, Mahogany Heights
“Thank god nobody get hurt. We had some houses weh got affected including mine. But thank god like I said nobody got hurt. But we realize that we do need some work on the drainage. We find out that the drain is the problem because the water had nowhere to go. So we find out that is the main thing, but it will get deal with.”
Michael Hutchinson, Concerned
“The ministry of works is already out there and the NEMO staff is already within the village doing assessments to see how they can help with the villagers. So for now we just hope that the rains hold up and the residents can get back to their normal way of life. Electricity is being restored right now; we have B.E.L. working in the area. We are trying to get in contact with the person that runs the water board here in the village to get the water system up and running.”
And according to Chief Met Officer Dennis Gonguez, the flooding was caused by a low pressure system that was over the area.
Dennis Gonguez, Chief Meteorologist
“The rains last night were caused by a low pressure system that is now moving away from our area and it is presently in the Bay of Campeche. Last night we had about seven inches at the Belize Zoo and four inches of rainfall at la Democracia and that is resulting in the flooding that we are seeing. As the water moves across, we expect flooding to continue however with not the same quantities of rains expected, we are not anticipating that the situation should worsen.”
In regards to the culvert on the George Price Highway, Bradley said that by this evening traffic will be able to flow. Duane Moody for News Five.