There were very heavy rains and winds all across the country yesterday and last night, but the folks on the old road seem to have taken the brunt of the bad weather.
Tonight, 8 families in Maskall Village are displaced after a freak storm whipped through and destroyed their homes.
The residents say the storm seemed like a tornado to them. This morning, our News team travelled there to assess the aftermath. Daniel Ortiz has that story:
Daniel Ortiz reporting
This frame on stilts used to be an almost fully completed house - that's until a strange weather event destroyed it last night. Winds from a tornado-like storm ripped the roofing off t and flung it against this adjacent house, which is where it remains right now.
All over Maskall Village, 7 other homeowners reported varying degrees of damage to their houses. There were a number of downed trees, which had to be cleared out of the road. Still there were others which were leaning on power lines, stretched to their limit.
Maskall is describing it as a "tornado-like" storm with strong winds, which were swirling and tearing up their roofs. Last night's storm resembled the one which hit Crooked Tree in August of 2011.
The residents described for us the stiff breeze and the torrents of rain which were dumped inside after their roofs gave way.
"What are w3e looking at here? We are told that this is part of that house."
Evette Vasquez - House Was Destroyed
"Yes sir. It blew off 11pm when I got up. I just heard "blam" and one of my sons who is 15 years old shouted for me because one of the board inside the house nearly hit him in the head, so I jump up and I heard my two babies shouted "fire." When I look out by the meter I saw my breaker box broken in half and I saw it sparked. When I got up I saw that one of the zincs at the back flew off and then we got wet up and from there we got out the house and we said that we would call BEL to have them come and take down the wire because it was sparking and we didn't want any fire."
"So ma'am when did you discover that this house, some of the parts of it blow and landed on the next house?"
Evette Vasquez - House Was Destroyed
"When we see the lightning, my son came and peep by the hole, he said that the roof from the house at the front is on our house."
Jason Madril - House Was Destroyed
"I feel water coming in on me, so I draw my bed over this side. When I draw my bed I see the whole top roof being lifted off and went over that house over there. It flipped over and was hanging here, and so they started to dance. The only thing that I could have done was to stay inside without the roof until the breeze stop and that's when I came out and I ran to my aunt across the street and I had ask them if I could stay there the night. I know a little bit about it and that's why I stayed in because I have gotten coward I would have ran out and the zinc would have flown and cut me, so I stayed in because of that."
Kela Teck - House Almost Fell
"I was afraid last night. I felt like the house would have collapse with all of us in there because the breeze was blowing and the back window flew open and the house started to shake. We could have hardly gotten up to stand up straight in the house. I grab my children and we came out in the rain last night with our mattress. I was afraid. My house sill was off the posts and I felt like my house was going down last night."
Elvira Mejia - House Was Damaged
"We were sleeping and then like after 10pm we heard the rain and the breeze and by the time we could get up like the breeze just pushed in and the roof boards was shaking up and all the children jumped up. I grab my baby because the rain was blowing under the roof and through the house. I heard the zinc and my husband was saying that it went now. I had my baby hold wrapped in a sheet and I said that if anything she will be going with me. Everyone were in a chair frightened and didn't know what to do and then we sat right there and the rain was blowing - half of the house was wet because the rain was blowing from under the roof and it came in the house."
Sherlett Castro - House Was Destroyed
"My niece called me and said that half of the house top flew off. I said well everything got wet' my bed, clothes and everything. I have my stereo, DVD player - all of those got wet because of the rain."
Even though the residents of Maskall believe the storm to have been a tornado, the Chief Met Officer says that there is no evidence to support that. According to their radar, Maskall experienced a major thunderstorm.
Dennis Gonguez - Chief Meteorological Officer
"In that particular area there was a band of showers that moved from the southeast to the northwest at around 10:30 or 10:45 there about. However, our radar images do not particularly show signature that would be typical of a tornado. What we saw on our radar images was an area of very intense echoes. The synoptic situation, the atmospheric conditions would not support such tornado activity and as I said even on the radar we didn't pick up any tornado signature. However, it was a very intense shower and probably have some 35-40 miles per hour wind gusts associated with it."
Whatever the storm was, families have been affected, and the Area Representative, Edmund Castro, was on the ground surveying the damages so that Maskall could get relief through NEMO.
Hon. Edmund Castro - Area Rep. Belize Rural North
"The government of Belize through NEMO will assist the residents of Maskall approximately 7-8 families that had been affected. We will come through and try to assist them with whatever we can through NEMO. When we try to assist our people we try to get them back on their feet as best as we can. We, by no means can give them everything that was lost, but we will do our best as the government of Belize. I was in contact with the Prime Minister this morning and informing him about what had occurred here in Maskall and he said that we will work swiftly thorough NEMO to see how we can assist and help the people get back on track as soon as possible."
As you saw in our story, there were personnel from the National Emergency Management Organization which were on the ground surveying for themselves and taking notes. Belize Rural North Area Representative Edmund Castro told us this evening that relief should arrive for Maskall by 9 a.m. tomorrow morning.
And getting back to the nature of the storm, Chief Met Officer Dennis Gonguez told us that he doesn't want to fully disregard the theory that last night's storm could have been a true tornado, simply because of the lack of evidence. He notes that as the equipment gets more sophisticated, they will be able to detect and measure if indeed tornado-like storms have been occurring in Belize. He adds that such storms happen around inland areas.
Viewers may recall that in August of 2011, there was a similar weather occurrence in Crooked Tree which left a wide path of destruction. It was caught on tape, and though the Meth Office told us that it didn't behave like the tornados native to Mid-Western United States, it certainly did its damage.