Islands well on road to recovery
The horror of Hurricane Keith
has largely receded in the
frantic preparation for the
holidays, but as Christmas
approaches we decided to take
one last look at how things are
going on the two islands that
bore the brunt of Keith's fury.
Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
When we visited the island of Caye Caulker, most of
the debris that had filled the streets was gone and
residents were busy rebuilding their homes. Worried
looks were replaced by smiles as life on the island is
returning back to normal. One encouraging sight was
the large number of tourists on the caye, who were
bringing some much needed cash to the businesses
who had suffered losses due to hurricane Keith.
Patty Arceo, Area Representative
"The islanders are not just relying on a handout from
government or the private sector, they are doing what
they can on their own. They are building up their own
houses, they are coming around going to the different
lending institutions to see how they can contribute
also to the rebuilding of both islands."
In the spirit of Christmas, some islanders have gotten
together to help others have a bright and merry
Tina Auxillou, Resident
"Actually Jackie one day a couple of us were sitting
across the street at Yoo Hoo and we were talking
about how a lot of people on the island after the
hurricane started painting their houses, those who
could afford it anyway and we were just looking
around and we know that this lady she is a single lady
she is in her seventies and she does not have a lot of
money, so we thought maybe it would be nice as a
Christmas present to get a couple of us together and
get donations and paint her house for her. So that is
how this got started."
In Caye Caulker, one of the hardest hit areas was the
back of the island. Today, not only is the area being
rebuilt but new streets are being constructed from
sand that is dredged from the sea. Prior to Keith, the
residents had no road access. Now they will be able to
move more freely, to and from their homes. The school
children will also have a lot to look forward too when
they return to school in January. The primary school,
which was used as a hurricane shelter, was greatly
damaged but is being well repaired.
Fermin Marin, Chairman, Caye Caulker Village
"They will be putting on a new top, new roof,
re-plastering, new bathrooms. As a matter of fact we
will be putting in about eight new bathrooms along
with showers so it can serve in the future as a
multipurpose building, as a hurricane shelter. What we
experienced in this hurricane is that the bathroom
facilities there is only two of them upstairs and with
two hundred people that was a big problem."
While the island is being cleaned up one major eye
sore still needs to be cleared. The island's only
dumpsite located next to the airstrip, has not only
been an unwelcoming sight for tourists but has been
creating a problem for the pilots as well.
"As you can noticed behind my back there is just a
small hill in the back there that was about ten times
the height of that there about ten times the height
there. Immediately after the hurricane all the garbage
that was in Caye Caulker, this was the site where it
"Landing in Caye Caulker you see garbage, taking off
you are seeing garbage. We hope that someday or in
the early future, someone is watching us to get a
barging system out so we could get this garbage out
of here. "
"Somewhere we could get it out of Caye Caulker
because for a small island it is very unhealthy
especially when we are talking about tourism. The
number one thing with tourism is a healthy
environment, so we don't want a garbage dump on it.”
“So what is the Village Council doing right now to
address the situation.”
“At the moment we are doing, down that end, we
have like a lagoon it was dug out when we built the
runway so it's a big hole, so what we are doing is to
push it out and dump it in that hole."
One thing the villagers would like to see on the island
is a fire truck. During Hurricane Keith the island’s only
tender was submerged in water and is no longer
working. Although the Village Council has since
received a portable water pump it was put to the test
when the first fire following the hurricane broke out
early Monday morning. The blaze completely destroyed
the Star Guest House.
"So when I responded to it I had to get friends and
see if we could get a vehicle to mount the pump and
bring it to the area where the thing is right and that is
how we tried to contain the fire so it wouldn't spread.
As you noticed the walls of those buildings had
started to scorched, so we definitely need a vehicle, a
fire truck to mobilize and speed up any movement
where a fire needs to be attended to."
Meanwhile over in San Pedro, the rebuilding continues.
School buildings are being repaired and better
equipped so they can be used as hurricane shelters.
"What we are actually doing is pumping close to a
hundred and fifty thousand for the rehabilitation of the
San Pedro primary school to ensure that it is properly
fit to be used as a hurricane shelter. In addition to
that we are also building behind us a walkway
because the traffic situation, whether it is people or
vehicle it is very congested so we have to try and put
proper walkway for our people."
While most of the streets in San Pedro have been
cleared of debris and streets are being resurfaced
plenty of garbage still remain in people's yards. Arceo
says due to a lack of resources it is impossible for
them to immediately clean up the mess. Instead she
is encouraging residents to take the time to clean
their yards. Arceo says she is most grateful to the
government and other agencies who came forward to
help both islands.