Source: American Red Cross
Date: 9 Oct 2000
Belize Red Cross Races Against Time to Feed Those Isolated by Hurricane Keith
Belize City, Belize: It's been nearly a week since Hurricane Keith hovered over Belize, but the worst effects are yet to be felt by thousands living in villages scattered throughout the northeast portion of the country. The 32 inches of rain Hurricane Keith dumped on Belize has yet to crest in the rivers that stretch from the country's interior to the Caribbean Sea.
Bridges and dirt roads are washed-out, isolating 15 villages that run along the Belize River.
Public transportation between Belize City and the affected villages has all but ceased preventing many from commuting to work and keeping out trucks that distribute food to local grocery stores. Hurricane Keith's heavy rains overflowed latrines, contaminated wells and damaged October's corn harvest. Cooking gas supplies are running out and many villagers who can no longer boil well water are drinking rainwater that falls from the roofs of homes.
The Belize Red Cross, with assistance from the American Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, is racing against time to provide food to 15 villages isolated by floodwaters. In two days, the rivers will crest, forcing more families to evacuate their homes for the safety of shelters run by the National Emergency Management Organization, the Belize government organization responsible for evacuations and sheltering in times of disasters.
Nicholas Beizder is a 72-year-old farmer living in Bermuda Landings, a village of 700 about an hour away from Belize City and about 200 yards from the Belize River that is steadily rising. Hurricane Keith destroyed Beizder's corn crops, but he remains hopeful that the
plantain, banana and rice crops will not spoil.
"There's no food here in the stores. My wife and I plan to boil plantains until the flood waters are gone and food trucks can come again," said Beizder.
The Red Cross, with help from the Peace Corps and two United States Army black hawk helicopters, delivered rice, corn, sugar, salt, cooking oil, toilet paper and medications to Bermuda Landings. Local villagers trained by the Belize Red Cross will distribute the supplies to 700 affected families living in Bermuda Landings and the three neighboring villages of Flowens Bank, Double Head Cabbage and Rancho Dolores.