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Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 214
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Mary has just updated her report on the state of things in and around Placencia.

The overview is at:

Listings by business name are at:

[email protected]

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Part One:

Part I: Winter 2001/2002 Newsletter: December, 2001
Kevin Modera Guide Services/Destinations Belize

The Eye of Iris

Dear Friends:

As many of you may know, on October 8 of this year, Hurricane Iris hit the
Placencia Peninsula with vengeance.

Independence Village, Monkey River Town and the Maya settlements in the
Toledo District south of Placencia were also hard hit.

Eighteen lives were lost when the San Pedro-based dive boat, the M.V. Waver
Dancer, capsized at the height of the Hurricane (additional information
available at BBC News: )

Iris hurt our tropical paradise and many lost homes, businesses and
livelihoods. But, Placencians are known throughout Belize as a determined
bunch, and rebuilding of our area started as soon as our initial shock began
to wear off, with more rebuilding taking place every day.

Still, southern Belize was changed by Iris, so we thought it might be
helpful to provide the following information on the status of local
communities, activities, hotels, restaurants, resorts and services.

(We apologize for the length of this newsletter, but we wanted to provide as
much information to you as possible.)

Part I of this Newsletter:
--Locations/Communities: Placencia Village, Seine Bight Village, Monkey
River Town, Maya Beach, Cayes, Placencia Lagoon, Toledo District

Part II of this Newsletter (in separate email):
--Activities: Fishing, Snorkeling/Diving, Ruins/Jungle/Caves, Kayaking

Part III of this Newsletter (in separate email):
--Rest and Relaxation: Hotels/Resorts, Restaurants/Bars, Tours, Events
--Organizations: Schools, Village Councils, Humane Society
--Transportation: Airlines, Roads, Buses, Ferries
--Services: Bank, Police, Tourist Center, Co-op, Grocery Stores, Health

Other than the lives lost in the Wave Dancer tragedy (see above), no lives
were taken by Hurricane Iris. However, structural damage was significant,
and the following describes damage and rebuilding efforts in the communities
of Placencia Village, Seine Bight Village, Maya Beach and Monkey River Town.

--Placencia Village: Because of the Village's location at the southern tip
of the Placencia Peninsula, Hurricane Iris hit Placencia Village almost dead
center, crossing land at Lat. 16.55 and Long. 88.48 -- Placencia Village is
at Lat. 16.5167 Long. 88.3667. Estimates are that 75%-85% of the structures
in the Village were destroyed or damaged by the storm.

However, many home owners and businesses in Placencia Village started
rebuilding almost immediately after Iris. Olga's Grocery and Professional
Building Supplies re-opened quickly to provide needed food and building
supplies to local residents. BJ's Restaurant operated as the command center
for local distribution of donated food and water, while The Galley
Restaurant fed relief and rescue workers, with Serenity Resort, Kitty's
Place and Robert's Grove providing housing for insurance adjusters and
utility crews.

Most businesses in Placencia Village plan to rebuild (and probably 80% were
at least partially insured). Jake's Internet Café opened on Thanksgiving Day
offering breakfast and lunch service, along with BJ's, Merlene's, The Galley
and J-Byrd's. Tradewinds plans to have 3 cabanas operational by December
15, with 3 more completed in January. Sea Spray Hotel, Serenade Hotel,
Manatee Inn, Harry's Cabanas, Carol's Cabanas and Blue Lagoon Apartments
have already re-opened. (Other local businesses are in the process of
rebuilding -- check for updates on
the status of local businesses.)

--Monkey River Town: Only 2 buildings remained standing in Monkey River
after Iris struck and the roof blew off the hurricane shelter at the height
of Iris. However, Monkey River has benefited greatly from private and
governmental assistance with the rebuilding of homes at low interest rates
and most people there now have new homes (albeit small ones). Residents of
Monkey River Town are very anxious to again welcome anglers and visitors to
the Monkey River jungle.

--Seine Bight Village: Located north of Placencia Village, Seine Bight was
not as hard hit by the actual storm as Placencia Village or Monkey River
Town. However, almost as many structures in Seine Bight succumbed to the
storm surge due to the age and condition of the structures there. Some
rebuilding is occurring in Seine Bight, but few people were insured, and few
have the financial resources to rebuild. Government and private aid have
not yet produced any significant recovery in Seine Bight.

--Maya Beach: Because of its location at the northern end of the Peninsula,
most structures in Maya Beach were not heavily damaged by winds, although
water damage to first floors was significant. Most homeowners and
businesses were insured.

--Cayes: Ranguana Caye escaped with the loss of only the easternmost cabana
(and the Caye is actually a little larger than before Iris).

David Alvarez, the new owner of Ranguana, has appointed Kitty's Place as its
new manager, and work has already begun to rebuild the destroyed cabana, as
well as upgrading the existing cabanas. A new food service area is planned,
in addition to new private baths in each cabana. (Tent camping is no longer
available on Ranguana.) Frank's Caye in the Sapodilla Caye Range is

Other cayes did not fare as well as Ranguana Caye. Little Water Caye lost
all of its structures as did Morris Caye, George's Caye and Whipparey Caye.
Pompion Caye and Moho Caye were also heavily damaged. Cary Caye lost its
sand and mangroves were uprooted on cayes closest to the Peninsula. No
trees remain on Round Caye.

However, as mentioned in the activities section of this newsletter (in Part
II), over 50 cayes are in the waters off the Peninsula, and most of those
cayes did not suffer significant damage other than the stripping of leaves
from trees and bushes - much of which is quickly recovering. (We've watched
the vegetation come back day by day on Placencia Caye just off the dock area
in Placencia Village.)

--Placencia Lagoon: The Lagoon does not appear to have suffered much damage
other than the loss of leaves on some mangrove trees and the destruction of
some structures built close to the water's edge. Vegetation is regrowing

--Toledo District: Most Mayan communities within 75 miles of the coast in
the Toledo District were completely destroyed. Help was slow in reaching
these communities, many of which had no phones or other communication with
the outside world.

However, the Red Cross, the Belize Emergency Hurricane Net, NEMO, the
University of Belize and other local and international organizations are now
responding with assistance, including the building of homes, children's
disaster counseling and donations of seeds for crop replanting.

But, all banana plantations in the Toledo District were severely damaged or
destroyed, taking away the primary incomes of most people in these areas.
Plus, all milpa crops were destroyed, taking away the secondary source of
income and subsistence in the District. Conditions in the Toledo District
are still grim, although much improved since October.

--General Peninsula: BEL (Belize Electric Limited) did an amazing job in
installing new electric service along the entire length of the Peninsula in
less than a six weeks.

Restoration of water service has been much slower due to the total
destruction of the water line running under the Placencia Lagoon. However,
that line has now been replaced and installation of water lines to
individual homes and businesses in Placencia Village should soon be
complete. (We have been unable to obtain information on the status of water
service in Seine Bight Village.)

Unfortunately, BTL (Belize Telephone Limited) has not shown the perseverance
and dedication of BEL or the local water service company. A few temporary
phones have been installed in local businesses, but full phone service is no
t expected on the Peninsula until possibly July, 2002. (So please be
patient with responses to email inquiries.)

Regular garbage pickup has also resumed post-Iris.

NEMO (the Belize National Emergency Management Organization) has done a very
good job in coordinating emergency services in the Stann Creek and Toledo
Districts. Jim Manmohammed, a business owner from San Pedro appointed by
the government as the local coordinator, has done a herculean job in the
face of huge obstacles.

--Village Planning. The Placencia Village Council is now working on a
Master Plan for the entire Village which will include building codes, sewage
disposal, setbacks, police and fire protection, rights of way, ability of
the Village Council to condemn properties, etc. New 12-foot vehicular
rights of way will run from the road to the sidewalk. (Parts II and III

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Placencia Belize Newsletter: Hurricane Iris - Part II - Activities
Status Report

Part II: Winter 2001/2002 Newsletter: December, 2001
Kevin Modera Guide Services/Destinations Belize

--Fishing: The beautiful Caribbean Sea is still at our doorstep, with
better beaches than ever post-Iris. (The storm widened the beaches with
additional soft, white sand.)

The water is clear, visibility is great, the grouper came in early, the
snook and juvenile tarpon have shown up in Monkey River right on time, and
we're seeing lots of bones and permit on the flats.

(Our most recent client (12/8-12/11) caught two permit - one on the flats
off the Peninsula coast and one down at Punta Ycacos -- also landed three
tarpon and reports that bonefish were plentiful and easily caught.)

Winter in Placencia always means good fishing for Black Grouper (Gag).
However, Hurricane Iris may make this an even better year than ever.
(Anglers in Florida have consistently reported that large numbers of Black
Grouper are seen after a strong hurricane. For example, "phenomenal
catches" were reported after Hurricane Elena in 1985.)

This year, the grouper showed up off the Placencia shores about two weeks
early (mid-November instead of early December). Bottom fishing for
Strawberry Groupers (and occasionally Nassau Grouper and big yellowtail
snapper) should also be good in January and February.

Monkey River remains THE place for snook and juvenile tarpon in the winter
months - and Monkey River residents are eager to see anglers again.

Snook and tarpon are also a possibility during the winter months by fishing
from shore at high tide at the point just north of the Placencia Village
dock. (Did you know that snook are protandric hermaphrodites, which means,
like groupers, male snooks can become females snook if there are too few
females around.)

The truly adventurous can also try for big tarpon (80# plus) at Deep River
during December and January - but tent camping is required. Anglers this
week are also catching mid-sized tarpon at the cayes (20-40# range).

Other good bets this winter are bonefish (flats), permit (Punta Ycacos
Lagoon and flats), King Mackerel and Barracuda.

See our Gear and Tackle Page at for
information on recommended gear and tackle. Also, check out for more reports on post-Iris
fishing and our Eye of Iris Fishing Specials at .

--Diving/Snorkeling: Iris did not muddy the waters for more than a few
weeks, and water visibility is now very good.

Some areas of coral were damaged by Iris, most notably around the cayes
closer to the Peninsula (based on early reports from divers and snorkelers).

However, the MesoAmerican Barrier Reef does not seem to have been heavily
damaged which means that snorkeling and diving around cayes such as
Ranguana, the Silks and Little Water should remain good. Also, snorkelers
in November reported larger than usual numbers of tropical fish around some
cayes such as the Silk Cayes and Moho Caye.

Iris should also have no effect on whale shark migration in April and May.
Best times for whale shark interaction trips are 3 few days before and after
the full moons on April 27 and May 26, 2002. For additional information on
whale sharks, see our Whale Shark page at To sign up for a trip, email us at
[email protected].

-Ruins, Jungle and Caves: The Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Reserve and the
Mayflower Archeological Reserve escaped unscathed by Hurricane Iris.

Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Reserve (a/k/a Jaguar Jungle) is home to the
world's largest number of studied jaguars, tropical birds and birds, rivers
and waterfalls. (Jungle river tubing is a popular part of many Cockscomb

The Mayflower Archeological Reserve includes several waterfalls and two main
Mayan sites, the Maintzunun (Small Hummingbird) and T'au Witz (The Place of
the Local God of the Hill). Maintzunun was first occupied during the Late
Classic period (600 AD) and abandoned during the Terminal Classic period
(900 AD).

The jungle around Monkey River and Monkey River Town was heavily damaged by
Hurricane Iris, and lost much of its canopy. However, the jungle grows
quickly and much of the vegetation is returning. We were concerned about
the fate of the Howler Monkeys in the area because of the loss of the
foliage - their primary food. Fortunately, vegetation began returning
quickly enough to save most of the monkeys and other jungle birds and
animals. The jungle isn't as lush as it was pre-Iris, but birders and
wildlife lovers will find a benefit in the new ease of spotting jungle
creatures at Monkey River.

Tours to Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit/Blue Creek Cave have been temporarily
suspended. Large amounts of post-Iris debris block access to Blue Creek
Cave and large rocks and boulders are covering portions of the ruins at
Lubaantun and Nim Li Punit. Check our Website for updates on the status of
these ruins at

The caves at Caves Branch were unaffected by Iris - and several of us took
refuge at Ian Anderson's Caves Branch Jungle Resort during the storm. All
Caves Branch caving and caving/tubing trips remain available (see for more information).

(Special Note: We'd like to offer a very big thank-you to Ian Anderson who
provided us with comfortable shelter and his outstanding hospitality during
Iris - plus left early on the morning of October 10 with his rescue team to
provide vital rescue services to the devastated Mayan communities of the
Toledo District south of Placencia.)

--Kayaking: Over 50 named cayes sit off the Placencia Peninsula giving
paddlers ample choices of destinations and overnight camping. Therefore,
while a number of local cayes were damaged by Iris, the Placencia area
continues to offer very good Caribbean kayaking opportunities. We're
offering two special kayak trips this spring, both co-hosted by Toadal
Adventures. Trips are on March 17 - 22 and April 1-6, 2002. Check our
Website at (Part III of this
Newsletter follows.)

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400
Hurricane Iris - Part III - Status

Part III: Winter 2001/2002 Newsletter: December, 2001
Kevin Modera Guide Services/Destinations Belize
Rest and Relaxation

Currently Open for Business:

(Note: we believe the following information on hotels and restaurants is
complete and correct. However, without telephone service, information is a
little difficult to obtain, so we apologize in advance for any errors or

--Resorts/Hotels: Kitty's Place, Inn at Robert's Grove, Barnacle Bill's
Beach Cabanas, Green Parrot Guesthouses, Luba Hati Resort, Maya Breeze Inn,
Nautical Inn, Rum Point Inn, Serenity Resort, Manatee Inn, Sea Spray Hotel,
Serenade Hotel, Harry's Cabanas, Blue Lagoon Apartments, Carol's Cabanas,
Lydia's Rooms, Toucan Lulu's, Myrtle's Rental House, Blue Crab Resort

--Restaurants/Bars: Jake's Purple Space Monkey Internet Café (also has
Internet service available), Merlene's Restaurant, BJ's Restaurant, The
Galley Restaurant, Kitty's Place restaurant, Robert's Grove restaurant, Luba
Hati restaurant, Nautical Inn restaurant, Serenity Resort restaurant, Green
Parrot restaurant, J-Byrd's Bar, Pickled Parrot Bar, Night Moves Bar.

Rebuilding: Soulshine Resort (and restaurant), Mariposa Beach Suites,
Tradewinds Hotel, Ranguana Lodge, Julia and Lawrence's Guesthouse, Cunche's
Villa, Easy Living Apartments, Sun and Sea Cabanas, Turtle Inn (and
restaurant), Daisy's Restaurant, Omar's Restaurant, Bella Beach Restaurant,
Dockside Bar, Tentacle's Restaurant, Westwind Hotel, Wamasa Beyabu,
Angelfish Inn, Miller's Landing Hotel, Maya Playa Guesthouse, Lee's Secret
Garden Rental House, Cozy Corners (restaurant and hotel)

--Tours: Most local tour operators and guides are back in full operation.
See the Activities section in Part II of this newsletter for more
information on specific activities.

--Events: The following events are still scheduled -

Mistletoe Ball: December 15, 2001 - Christmas dance and dinner party
sponsored by the Placencia chapter of the Belize Tourism Industry
Association. For information contact Ellie at [email protected]

Placencia Talent Show: February 23 and 24, 2002. Local talent show
for the benefit of the Placencia Humane Society. For more information,
contact Marcia Fox at [email protected]

Placencia LobsterFest 2002: June 22 and 23, 2002 - Annual event to
benefit the Placencia Village Council, the Placencia chapter of the Belize
Tourism Industry Association and local organizations which sponsor food and
craft booths. For more information, contact at Ellie at [email protected].


--Schools: St. John's Memorial School in Placencia Village re-opened on
Monday, November 12. St. Alphonsus Roman Catholic School in Seine Bight
Village opened two weeks earlier.

Both schools are short on supplies, furniture and teaching aids, all of
which were swept away by Iris (a number of children in Placencia Village do
not have desks or chairs and must stand or sit on the floor during class).

Classes in Placencia are severely overcrowded, primarily due to the
destruction of two small annexes constructed within the last year to
alleviate overcrowding

Marilyn Beckstead, a retired Canadian educator who now makes her home in
Placencia has formed a registered Canadian charitable foundation to raise
funds and supplies for southern Belize schools. The Iris Foundation for
Education ( will offer ongoing funding and
training assistance to area schools, beginning with the Placencia, Seine
Bight and Independence schools, and eventually expanding into the Toledo
District. (Earlier this year, Marilyn participated in a teacher training
program for local teachers in Big Falls in the Toledo District. The new
school there built largely by volunteer community labor was destroyed by
Hurricane Iris.)

For more information about The Iris Foundation or to make a donation, visit
the Website at or contact Marilyn Beckstead
at [email protected].

--Village Councils: With the help of NEMO, the Placencia and Seine Bight
Village Councils have been coordinating local relief efforts including
distribution of food, water, clothing, building materials and other
supplies. The Placencia Village Council Office on the second floor of the
building next to the Placencia Cooperative at the dock is again open from
8:30 a.m. to noon, and 2 p.m. until 4:30 p.m. Fixed cell phone service
should soon be available to the Placencia Village Council office.

Placencia Humane Society: Three emergency clinics were held on October 20,
November 19 and December 8 and 9, 2001. Veterinary care was provided to 149
pets and homeless animals. Cost of all treatments was paid by the Placencia
Humane Society unless the owner voluntarily paid or made a donation - cost
to the Humane Society for emergency veterinary care is currently over $2,000

Dr. Michael DeShield who provides veterinary care at monthly veterinary
clinics, and the SAGA Society of San Pedro donated dog and cat food for
local pet owners.

For more information about the Placencia Humane Society or to make a
donation, contact Marcia Fox at [email protected], Marilyn Beckstead at
[email protected] or Mary Toy at [email protected].


--Airlines: Both Maya Island Air and Tropic Air are in full operation with
five flights each day between Placencia and Punta Gorda/Dangriga and Belize
City. Flights are operating on regular schedules.

Roads: Iris pretty much sounded the death knell for what little paving
remained of what was a very poor paving job to begin with. In other words,
roads are back to normal on the Peninsula - potholes and all. Not too
muddy, though. However, the Southern Highway work is moving right along,
with only small sections remaining unpaved.

Buses: Southern Transport is providing regular service to and from the
Peninsula, Punta Gorda, Dangriga, San Ignacio, Belmopan and Belize City -
and all points in between.

Ferries The Hokey Pokey water taxi service to Independence is running
Monday - Friday at 10 a.m., returning at 2:30 p.m.


Bank: Atlantic Bank at the Placencia Village dock is open regular hours
from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Tourist Center: The Placencia Tourist Center at the Placencia dock is open
from 8:30 a.m. to Noon and 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The Center has a phone
and can be reached at [email protected].

Grocery Stores: Olga's Grocery and Wallen's Grocery are both open in
Placencia Village with regular hours. Dave's Grocery in Seine Bight is open
with regular hours. Placencia Grocery in Placencia Village is also open,
but with irregular hours. Jim and Sarah have resumed their weekly sales of
fresh produce at the Placencia Village Dock on Saturdays from 9 a.m. until
everything is gone (which doesn't take long these days).

Health Clinics: The Placencia Village Health Clinic and the Seine Bight
Village Health Clinic are both open.

Placencia Fish Cooperative: The Co-op is open at the Placencia Village dock
and is again selling fresh lobster, fish and cubed ice.
Kevin and I hope the information provided in this newsletter was of interest
to you. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

All of us on the Peninsula are celebrating our survival this holiday
season -- and we hope you will include us in your own celebrations.

We also hope to see you in Placencia soon!

A very happy holiday to you all.

Mary and Kevin
Destinations Belize and Kevin Modera Guide Services
Placencia, Belize

Kevin Modera Guide Services
and Destinations Belize
Placencia, Belize, Central America
Cell Phone: 016-3609 (501-1-63609 outside Belize)
Fax (US): 603-452-4797
Email: [email protected]

Joined: May 2000
Posts: 88
It is so good to hear news of the southern mainland. I hope that all of us continue to remember this large area, including the non tourist areas, in our prayers and donations to assist those in need. Giving knows no season or holiday; it is an attitude, a state of mind to help those in need all year.

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