This 4th episode of the Belize Kolcha TV Series called Hurricanes, features personal accounts by some survivors of Hurricane Hattie.
Plotting the destructive path of Hurricane Hattie at weather forecasting station. Belize City 1961. In 1961 The National Hurricane Center in Miami was using radar and hurricane hunter aircraft to track hurricanes.
Police guarding Marketing Board from Looters
There was widespread looting after Hattie. The Santiago Castillo warehouse was looted, and Harley's.The Red Cross gave us food rations, and the British troops patrolled the streets of the city during curfew. If you were caught for curfew it was a $5 and and they were taken to Queen Street police station.
The looting in downtown Belize City contrasted with the orderly line for food rations on North Front Street, outside of the Marketing Board (from one of the iconic pictures of the aftermath of he hurricane). The looting led to the British governor calling a state of emergency, and it was stopped when one of the looters was shot by a British soldier around Albert and Bishop Street.
The young man with the loud speaker ( in the middle of the photo) in his hand is CH Godden the Assistant Colonial Secretary. He wrote his memoirs in the book "Trespassers Forgiven: Memoirs of Imperial Service in an Age of Independence". In the book Godden dedicated an entire chapter about Hattie. It was in his book that I heard about the experience his boss the Colonial Secretary had with a Casandra in Jamaica in 1961. As the story goes, the Cassandra told the Colonial Secretary that a terrible hurricane was going to hit Belize that year and that was what prompted the Colonial Secretary to prepare for a hurricane by repairing the hurricane shelters countrywide. In the photo the Marketing Board was filled with sacks of rice and the people were looting it, but they were trying to stop the people from taking the rice. As it turned out, Godden convinced the Administration to let the people take the rice because it had gotten wet and wet rice would only last so long. Plus they needed to remove the rice anyway. So with that the people got the rice.
Colin Gillett: My dad said he was police training school at the time of Hurricane Hattie and Belize City was under martial law then. As a police recruit he had to patrol the city as looting was rampart so couple looters were shot at by the soldier as regular police then had just a club and whistle.
Remnants of Hurricane Hattie: This riverfront aerial scene of hurricane-stricken Belize is reminiscent of Europe's bombed out cities of World War II, haredly a rood is intact, large rain collecting barrels are ?? and autos are scattered where left by raging flood waters
The large building is one third of Eden Cinema. There were over 50 people sheltered there and when the roof started flying off, everyone crammed into the projector room. The piece standing is concrete and housed the projector room, bathrooms and the balcony with reserved seats.
The building is situated North Northwest to South Southeast. It seems depending when that part of the building got destroyed in relation to where the hurricane was at the time the people sheltering in the reserve area would have gotten sheltered. In the early stages of Hattie, I believe the winds were coming from the North to Northeast. As the eye gradually passed us, the winds would have gradually turned to the South Southeast then South, at which point the people in the reserve area would have been sheltered as the winds were coming from the Government House direction. I am not sure how large the projector room was, but once the eye had passed what remained of the building would have sheltered anyone in the reserved area since the wind was coming from the closed up area snd not the open area. What broke up these buildings was not only the winds, but the projectiles flying at 150 to 200 miles an hour crashing into buildings.
The two large buildings to the right are Pickwick Club and my grandparents building that housed the Tropical Lemonade bottling works, Belize Trading Company and my grandparents residence near the river. I see the Royal Bank of Canada by the market. Scot's Kirk is gone! Brodies is in the back, the Supreme Court etc.
Woman sitting amid remains of Her house in Belize City which was battered by Hurricane Hattie October 1961
Albert Street, the first building on the right is the Chevannes building, Maya Store on left. The BATA store sign indicates the photographer was standing st the Prince St intersection, looking down Albert St to swing bridge. Old Ideal Shopping Centre on your left.
THE REBUILDING AND BUILDING OF A COUNTRY IN CHAOS by Hector Silva
In 1961, after Hurricane Hattie devastated Belize, two doors were opened to us. - - Rebuild to Build, or just move out of Belize City and restart some where else. - WE CHOSE To stay and rebuild, so as to Build a new Independent Nation in Central america.
May I first give you all a Birds Eye View of what was before us, just recently elected on March 2nd 1961. - ( SEVEN MONTHS OLD. )
LET me first give you a bird's eye view, of what Belize City was, and the rest of the country.
Belize City was practically FLATTENED. 80 %or thousands of houses demolished. Many others damaged. There was no Electricity, Water or telephone. FOOD VERY SCARCE, and Medical Services limited.
Many dead, many injured and many Traumatized and shocked due to their complete losses.
Our industries like Citrus, Chicle bleeding and Mahogany extraction were totally paralized and eventually destroyed. - Milpas and crops were washed away. - Other means of livelihood came to a halt.
Our roads, bridges and our sea lanes were interrupted by blockage. Immediately Shelters had to be constructed like Hattie Ville, George Town Silk Grass and in many other areas.
Government Buildings all over the country were damaged or had to be cleaned and sanitized.
THEN, the building of Belmopan became more urgent, and the providing of Electricity, Water and telephone became a necessity.
As an added necessity, we had to regenerate our International Airport to accommodate Jet Services. - And to build the Tower Hill Bridge, - which was greatly need to boost TRADE with Mexico and to serve the Sugar Industry.
SO YOU WANT TO KNOW WHAT WE DID TO RACKLE THIS GIANT OF A PROGRAMME ?
.1 - WE immediately instituted, a Small Farmers Loan programme and guided by Farm Demonstrators. - - We opened the Marketting Board to serve as the Customary Services.- then the large Industries were offered A DEVELOPMENT INCENTIVE PROGRAMME, or a Tax Holiday on importation of needs to build. - -These Incentives were also also offered to Local Hoteliers, who had a desire to provide
accomodations for the begining of Tourism Local and Foreign. )..-
The Mennonites were alrady established and were an asset in the building of Hurricane Shelters. and providing for the birth of the GREEN REVOLUTION.
Government established two Quasi Government Institutions, - - - THE RECONSTRUCTION and DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION and THE DEVELOPMENT FINANCE CORPORATION.
With all the above WE MADE.
This was after Hattie during martial law. North Front Street in front of the law offices of Musa & Balderamos (the men are gathered in front of Spoonaz. This was exactly where the Eyles Brothers, Robby and Charlie, had the Caterpillar Agency on North Front Street, across from the Palace Hotel. The weapon is the SLR uk version of the FN in the then new NATO calibre of 7.62mm x 51 that was adopted in 1952. Again we see evidence of Quartro Aguas Roof fairing off much better than the other types of roofs.
Racecourse St. after Hurricane Hattie. Right off Vernon on the right hand by the bridge Look good you can see remains of the Brooklyn Bridge that separated Racecourse and East Collet Canal. That large wooden house on the right is old Mr Cain's house and left of it was Mr Hyde's, a bartender at Fort George. The concrete building in front is still there.
Another comment: That's on Mex Avenue, the big house on the left was corner of Mex avenue and Amara, known as Cucunal yard (sp?). There was a water pipe on the street side in front.
FR Robert Mc Cormack SJ showing him and then Premier George Price surveying damages done by Hurricane Hattie to the Stann creek district in 1961.