Here's a brief summary of what I've been able to find out about Keith. It's
cobbled together from e-mail, telephone and other reports.
As of mid-morning EDT October 3, 2000
Here's a summary, as of October 3, 2000, on what happened in Belize due to
Hurricane Keith. As of this writing, telephones (except for some cellular
units) and power are still out on most of the islands so information is still
The best single source of information is http://www.AmbergrisCaye.com.
Webmaster, Marty Casado, is in Oregon and is coordinating telephone, ham
radio and e-mail messages from Belize and elsewhere about the storm, then
posting them on his Web site. Marty's information is far more reliable and
up-to-date than anything I have seen on CNN, the Weather Channel or from wire
As telephones and other communications are restored today and tomorrow, much
more information should be available.
Background: A tropical depression appeared suddenly September 29 off the
coast of Belize and quickly grew into Hurricane Keith. On Saturday morning,
Sep. 30, it was a weak tropical depression, and by late in the same day it
had become a Category 3 to 4 hurricane. It all happened so fast that there
was little time to prepare and almost no time to evacuate from the cayes and
Hardest Hit Areas: Belize's most popular tourist destination, Ambergris
Caye, and Belize's best known budget island, Caye Caulker, appear to have
gotten the brunt of the storm. Winds of 100 mph + pounded the islands for
many hours. Water rose rapidly, especially on the back sides of the islands
and may have reached 8 feet or more in height on parts of the islands. So far
there have been NO REPORTS OF DEATH OR SERIOUS INJURY. Officials in San
Pedro say everyone is well and that they have food and water.
San Pedro: Quite a number of buildings, including at least some hotels, have
lost roofs or other parts of their structures. The most serious damage
appears to have been to small homes on the back (west) side of the island and
to houses and hotels on North Ambergris Caye. Some reports have indicated
that Journey's End was flooded, Sundiver had damaged roofs and that Mata
Chica sustained quite a bit of damage. Some flooding occurred south of San
Pedro town, and at least one hotel sustained some significant damage but most
properties including Victoria House and Banana Beach seem to have made it
okay. Villas at Banyan Bay had some moderate damage including loss of roof
tiles. Hotels and most buildings on Front Street appear to be okay. Most
hotels on Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker are closed and likely will remain
closed for at least a few days. Some dive boats are thought to have been lost
. As both fixed and cell phone service is still out to these cayes, the
extent of damage is unknown. Supply boats and other help are now making the
trip to San Pedro and Caye Caulker from Belize City.
Caye Caulker: This low-lying island where many of the buildings are simple
frame structures apparently had a number of roofs and even complete homes
blown away, though, again, there have been no reports of deaths or serious
injuries. Reports are that several hotels on Caulker have been damaged and
that most of the controversial beach reclamation project, completed a few
weeks ago, has been lost due to wave action. At least one report indicated
that fresh water was in short supply on Caulker.
Other Islands: Reports from outlying islands and resorts including
Lighthouse Reef, Turneffe, Spanish Bay and Caye Chapel all report that all on
the islands are okay.
Mainland: Aside from reports of fairly serious flooding and some damage to
homes in Belize City, there does not appear to have been much storm damage in
other parts of the mainland. Winds apparently never got above 40 mph in
southern Belize (Dangriga, Placencia, Punta Gorda) and there was no storm
surge and apparently y no serious damage to beaches or reef. In northern
Belize, there was some rain, the feared storm surge in Corozal/Chetumal Bay
did not happen. In Corozal Town, the power didn't even go out except in
isolated areas. Sarteneja got some wind and water but no serious problems
are reported. Inland in Cayo and Orange Walk districts, rivers were high
--the Macal was reported to be up to 20 feet above normal -- and there was
moderate rain and some flooding, but again nothing remotely like what
happened in Honduras after Hurricane Mitch. All the hotels including lodges
in the Pine Ridge and in cottage country west of San Igancio that we have
heard from or have heard about are in good shape. The Western Highway has
been reported closed to most vehicles. The sun is shining now in Cayo.
More flooding may occur as rivers and lagoons reach their highest levels in
10 to 15 years, but things could have been much worse. Again, to date we have
heard of NO REPORTS OF DEATHS OR SERIOUS INJURY ON THE MAINLAND.
Keith has now officially been downgraded to a tropical storm.
TACA, Continental and American have canceled flights to Belize. Reportedly
airlines will resume service starting Oct. 5 or 6 and perhaps earlier. It
is not known when Tropic and Maya Island will resume regular service. Some
equipment already has been flown out of San Pedro, home base for the
airlines. The airports may reopen Oct 4.
One human interest sidelight is that a production crew of several dozen
people from Fox Television Network were on Ambergris Caye finishing the
filming of a "reality-based" TV show, "Temptations," and were caught by the
storm. Reports indicate that they all are okay.
This being the slowest period of the year for tourism in Belize, the number
of visitors on the islands and elsewhere in the country was relatively small.
Students at the offshore medical school on Ambergris Caye reportedly went to
a nearby condotel, Banana Beach, or other hotels, for safety. The local
weekly newspaper, the San Pedro Sun, was closed for vacation.
BELIZE FIRST will issue a full report after the facts are clear.
One question that we're getting a lot is âÇoWe have a trip planned to Belize
-- should we still plan on coming?âÇ¥ The best answer we can give at this
point is: Stand by for more news, but things will get back to normal soon,
indeed a lot sooner than you may think. Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker
aren't going to be ready for visitors for a few days or weeks, but most of
the rest of the Belize, places like Placencia, Hopkins, Cayo and PG, haven't
had any serious damage to the tourism infrastructure and will be fully ready
for visitors as soon as the airlines are flying again. The worst thing you
could do is cancel a trip based on rumor or an ill-informed, sensationalized
newscast on CNN or other network. Tourism is vital for Belize, and here's
hoping that visitors won't cancel vacation plans needlessly.