Tropical Storm Karl leaves Corozal wet, but unharmed

Tropical Storm Karl passed over northern Belize early this morning. The north braced up and prepared; schools closed and shelters were on standby. Karl brought rains, strong winds and a power outage; that was about the worst. A News Five team headed out this morning and found that it was business as usual throughout Corozal Town. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The recession of sea followed by heavy winds and a few storm showers in the Corozal Bay overnight were the only visible signs of the passage of Tropical Storm Karl through northern Belize. Despite several bulletins issued by the National Emergency Management Organization it was business as usual in Corozal Town today. The system which was expected to make landfall this morning brought with it minimal damage to property and from the look of things residents in the northernmost reach of the country were prepared to face the weather. According to Willard Levy plans were already in place in the event that residents had to be evacuated.

Willard Levy, District Coordinator, NEMO Corozal

Willard Levy

“Yesterday we [uhm] I called up an emergency meeting at two o’clock just to put the committee in gear to unroll their plan of action noh and [uhm] make sure that everybody is prepared and ready and [uhm] to lay out their plans and put everybody on high alert. I communicated with the village emergency committees because we have an emergency committee in every village in the district here in Corozal and [uhm] also called their attention to be on high alert for the rains and winds that would be coming, you know, during the course of the night and in the day today. And what we did was just that until this morning when the winds and the rains started, strong winds of about thirty-five, forty miles per hour and then we had heavy rains from about nine until eleven-thirty.”

By midday the weather was already clearing up; however, along the Northern Highway near the Belize/Mexico Border the aftermath of sustained showers was quite evident. Vehicles had to make their way through several inches of water that settled along the thoroughfare. Levy says they wasted no time in sending out NEMO personnel into flood-prone areas.

Willard Levy

“Medical team had deployed their surveillance committee. [Uhm] transport was ready; everybody was ready and prepared to gear up. Our primary concern was Sarteneja because it’s so isolated and when we have heavy rains the road gets impassable so like I said I contacted the chairman of the emergency committee there and [uhm] we found out that we have about, we had about four families that were flooded. Despite, they refused to go into shelters so, but we were all ready and alerted to, if we needed to open shelters we were prepared.”

Fortunately there was no need to. In fact residents of Corozal Town were out and about and with classes being cancelled for the day some students went to the beach where they made use of the extra seafront. Damages in the outlying areas, according to Levy, were little to none.

Willard Levy

“The other villages experienced minor things [uhm] but afterwards we got the report that [uhm] we had, after the winds we had some fallen trees, plantain trees, you know, the light trees them and we have that all over the district, you know, in the different areas. Corozal Town has a lot of that if you notice around you we have that kind of situation and [uhm] so what we are trying to do is the Damage Assessment Committee has gone out to make an evaluation of the situation with the papaya industry.”

In 2007 the papaya industry was virtually blown away by gale force winds that accompanied Hurricane Dean. Although Karl did not come as close in terms of category and impact, other companies took no chances in safeguarding their facilities.

Willard Levy

“BEL had cut off electricity in the different areas of the town and the district as a matter of fact and [uhm] waiting until NEMO was prepared to say that it’s an all clear to restore back electricity and that would be done during the course of the afternoon.”

By two o’clock this afternoon power was fully restored in Corozal Town and its surrounding villages. There were no fatalities or significant losses recorded. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.