Just a quick note here to update those of you trying to get news from Corozal in the wake of Hurricane Dean.
Landfall was at or near Majahual, Mexico, sometime around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning, August 21, with sustained wind speeds of 165 mph and projected storm surge between 10 and 18 feet. Chetumal was somewhat protected by the eastern landmass, although it still experienced very high winds, heavy rains, and some street flooding; Corozal fortunately was on the easier south side of the storm. It's estimated that wind speeds in Corozal were at least 80 m.p.h., and possibly as high as 100 m.p.h.
The eye of Hurricane Dean at landfall, image from the Weather Channel.
As of Tuesday evening, the electricity in Corozal is still out, and likely to be out for at least another 48 hours. And the majority of the telephone lines came down in the storm, so email and land-line telephone communications are pretty much out. However, oddly enough, Belize cell phone communications are still working. So until their cell phone batteries die, you can contact people that way.
If you urgently need to contact American friends or relatives in the area, the American Embassy representative in Corozal, Loreta Randall, has a generator and an intact Internet satellite dish with functioning email: 22palms (at) hughes (dot) net . This should only be used in case of an emergency; otherwise, I recommend patience until communication services are restored.
I've not heard of any serious injuries in Corozal from the storm. There was, however, significant property damage from the high winds. My husband -- who's there visiting his folks, what timing! -- reports that almost all of the trees in Corozal are down. From north of College Hill, he can see all the way to the bay, a view that used to be blocked by all the trees. The BDF -- Belize's army -- are already in town with machetes, chopping and clearing the debris from streets and power lines.
Mark and his family, including sister Vikki and her one-month-old baby Amber, are safe & sound, along with 15 people from their neighborhood who spent the night in the living room of Patti's new house.
Since the prevailing storm winds were out of the west in Corozal, the storm surge in Corozal Bay was minimal, said to be less than 2 feet. I'm told that flooding is NOT a problem in Corozal, contrary to the Weather Channel's evening report.
The worst property damage in the "gringo community" that I've heard of was to Gregg & Connie's house, my former next-door neighbors and owners of the Copa Banana Bed and Breakfast. As far as I know their hotel is intact, but the palapa roof of their home collapsed. Next door to them, Jim & Melanie's enormous palapa roof withstood the storm. Down the street, Colleen Gundy's drive is completely blocked by uprooted trees, but she and her house are reportedly safe. Roger and Deema Thompson also weathered the storm well in Corozal Town, only 1 building away from the sea, but lost their Internet satellite and with it their email.