Incessant rains in the past weeks have inundated most of the country, resulting in serious damage to infrastructure, including roads and bridges. In various parts of Belize the damage is more deeply felt because of areas which are prone to floods. One of those areas is the Belize River Valley, which acts as a natural basin for flood waters rushing to lower ground. News Five was recently in Crooked Tree, where the community was badly inconvenienced by rising waters. While Crooked Tree always gets a lot of attention, there is another much smaller community near to it which is completely cut off from civilization via roadway. Today, Mike Rudon and cameraman George Tillett travelled to Maypen for the story.
Mike Rudon, Reporting
The small community of Maypen is just five short miles off the Philip Goldson Highway by road, but that road doesn’t exist anymore. It’s covered under as much as six feet of water. Today our journey started in a small skiff which skimmed over the dark waters stretching over more than a mile of road. From there, we maneuvered through a shortcut which took us to Black Creek, which our guide told us is now about twenty feet deep. After a half mile on the creek, we rejoined the road, and then headed out onto the Belize River. It all seems complicated and unnecessary, but for the residents of Maypen this is actually the easier route.
We switched boats on the banks of the Belize River for the last three miles into the village. At that point the water was only an inconvenience, but as we neared the community we could see that the problem is much worse than that. There are only about ten families in Maypen, and four of them depend on livestock to survive. But as you can see, there is so much water that there is no pasture land for the cattle and sheep to graze. So they are literally starving.
Olivia Moody, Chairlady, Maypen
“I know Mike you see the situation that we are in; it is not a nice situation. If you notice, we have four farmers that are really affected and need assistance with livestock. And I hope that whosoever can help, the agricultural department who is responsible for agriculture to give us a help.”
“In terms of the four families that are affected in terms of livestock, livestock is the livelihood of those families.”
“Of course yes. That’s their income and that’s how they survive.”
At one home we stopped, the farmer was struggling to keep his cattle alive on his last supply of feed. He has to keep them in this muddy, soggy swamp because his pasture is covered with water. Buntin Moody owns over one hundred head of cattle, and if he does not get help, he could lose them.
Buntin Moody, Farmer
“Right now the animal…the place flood out and the animal need place to rest. I need some feed and thing. The grassy piece where dehn used to feed under water so I really need some help. Need some feeding at least and if I could get wah place to transport them, I woulda transport an amount—maybe a fifty head—lighten up the crowd yo know.”
One of his neighbours, Derrol Rhaburn, has sixteen head of cattle. He has a little dry land left, so his situation is not yet dire. But it’s close, and he is appealing for some feed to give to his cattle.
Derrol Rhaburn, Farmer
“Right now the animal got wah lee land right now. But after the water go down, it wah be problem because dehn no wah have no feed because the whole grass weh dehn got deh, the water doen di kill dehn. I have lee feed right now because I chop lee thing. But after the water go down, we wah got problem.”
“This water stand like this about three weeks ih deh up like this. This dah no really the problem. Dah when ih fall off, the cows noh wah have nothing fi eat. So we wah suffer till bout next year.”
While there is no threat to life, there is a threat to the livelihoods of these families. For the others who live in Maypen, the problem is a little more routine where floods are concerned. They cannot move freely in and out of the community, so they need assistance with food and other basic rations.
“As you see Mike, the entire road has water—in and out is a problem. So I feel they also would need assistance with having help by food.”
“So food is their primary concern right now?”
“Yes, the rest of them, it is food. It is a problem for them to back and forth. As you saw, we transport two boats. We want to one point in a smaller skiff and the next point it is a bigger skiff. And some of the people don’t have access to that situation like I do.”
The Red Cross is scheduled to visit the area on Friday to help with those concerns. Chairlady of Maypen Olivia Moody is hopeful that the Agriculture Department will follow suit and assist with their livestock problems.
“Since this flooding three weeks ago, we get a little packet from NEMO and now the Red Cross requested that they will help us sometime tomorrow and that will be of great help for us. Red Cross is an organization weh always help us in these kind of situation.”
“So I guess now the other agency would need to be the agriculture department?”
“Yes I really need to appeal to the agricultural department to put this is practice.”
Residents told us that the last time water was so high in Maypen was five years ago. It is expected that the waters will recede in January. Mike Rudon for News Five.