Tropical Wave Dumps 10 Inches of Rain on Belize City
The city was deluged with rain today – causing floodwaters to rise to as high as three feet in some low lying areas of the city. It has been a day of record rainfall. The Met Service reports that 10.2 inches of rain fell at the Phillip Goldson Airport in the last 24 hours, smashing the previous record for the whole month of August which was 7.26 inches. To repeat, we’ve had over 10 inches of rain in the last 24 hours – most of it since 5 this morning – just about three inches more than the standing record for the normal rainfall in the entire month.
And it’s all caused by a tropical wave, which moved up from the south and mushroomed over Belize City this morning, inundating it with rain. But right now, the rains have stopped and the waters are receding. Because Belize City is below sea level, the receding water also accompanies the low tide which came in at 5:59 this evening. And, accordingly, the floods started to crest around noon, when the high tide came in. But that science makes it sound too neat; it does not govern human affairs; trust us, it was wild in the city today. The record rain flooded streets, flooded homes, forced the city to shut down, and sent everyone scrambling through streets that were filled with rain from north side to south.
Our 7NEWS team put on their raincoats and rubber boots and caught some of the generalized chaos in the center of the city today.
Keith Swift Reporting,
There is a strong tropical wave over Belize. It is not expected to pass until tonight. The thunderstorms have dumped most of the rain right here in Belize City which has caused unusual flooding on some of the main streets. The sky was dark and the entire city was absolutely drenched in water. This was the condition of Dean Street at 1 pm. This was South Street; here is East and West Canal which became one giant canal; Tigris Street and here is King Street. All around the scene was the same: pedestrians with umbrellas, rubber boots, raincoats, and some with none - along with cyclists, cars, and dogs - all trying to trudge and wade through streets which resembled rivers.
You’re not using your umbrella.
“It doesn’t make any sense because I will still get wet up anyway and I can’t ride because the water is high and I will have to peddle hard so its best I walk and get wet up.”
So you’re coming from work?
“Yes I am coming from work. I work at a school so the kids went home and then we left.”
“There is no use complaining because it is already here. What can we do. We just have to enjoy the weather, stay inside and lock up.”
I see that you still went to shop.
“I have to because you have to eat. You have to eat. But all you can do is have faith and pray that things will work out for us.”
When was the last time you rain like this?
“Hmm, a long time ago. From I’ve known myself, I haven’t seen it flood like this before.”
One of the areas hardest hit by the flood is the intersection here at the corner of Douglas Jones Street and North Front Street. Now this normally a busy intersection but with the water at people’s knees, traffic today was at a virtual standstill. It was at a standstill at least for these vehicles which fell victim to the flood. Alfonso Zetina lives in the area and he came out in the rain to dig a drain because the water from the canal was seeping into his yard.
“I don’t want the dirt to stay at my gate so I am cleaning it because everything is piled up there, all the board they stay right there so I am digging a drain like for them to go to the river.”
Have you ever seen flooding like this?
“Oh yes always, when flood like this we always get it and the worse thing is that when it floods, the sewerage thing is close by so that and all comes and you can smell it right there. You see in my yard, it has gone inside already, in the house.”
But while Zetina worked, most people played in the rain. On North Front Street it was football in the rain. Freddy Mossiah says he was making the best out of a bad situation.
“I am out here enjoying the rain, taking a rain bath for the time being. It is good and I am enjoying it because there is nothing else to do.”
How has this affected your day?
“Well I have a barbershop on Victoria Street and the flood, it is all in my shop so I can’t do any business right now…so I’m just making the best of it; having fun.”
Mahogany Street resembled a river and in the middle of it - and in the middle of traffic – were Ronald Pennil and Kevin Lonsgworth. They were jumping around as if Mahogany Street were one big river – which explains the raft.
Who brought out the raft?
“This is my boat because I can’t swim. When Hurricane Dean was coming I hauled out my life jacket and my coat because I can’t swim.”
But do you realize you’re in the middle of the street?
“We are doing taxi jobs right now.”
“We’re doing taxi, we are trying to make a living just like the other taxi them.”
And while Pennil and Longsworth found a way to make money from the rain, the flood was keeping Jimmy Stamp from making money.
Jimmy Stamp, Store Owner
“Messed up, flood out. Business can’t happen and I feel mad because nothing is happening here. Hurricane Dean is gone and we are still getting flooded out. So we want to know what type of situation is happening here because the whole of Belize is under water.”
Has this happened here before?
“Not like this.”
It was also an unexpected avalanche of floodwater for Claudine Ramirez who lives on West Street. She says that within minutes her home was drenched.
Claudine Ramirez, West Street Resident
“The water just started coming, I mean we had no warning. It just started rushing in through the back door and through the front and it was probably in less than five minutes that the whole house was flooded. It was really flooded with water. I really wasn’t expecting this. It is just disastrous.”
So what did you guys have to do?
“Well we tried to get some sand bags to try to stop the water from coming in through the back door and through the front door but the water was just too high and it was coming in too fast. And when the vehicles they would pass by on the street, the water would just come in the house. I am from Orange Walk so we’ve never had these floods in Orange Walk but its really scary. You know you worry because you work hard for everything that you have and it is within minutes everything is just flooded away.”
While the entire city was affected by the record rainfall in one way or the other: heaviest flooding was experienced in Belama Phases 3 and 4, the Jane Usher Boulevard and Port Loyola in general, as well as areas of Lake Independence. The Northern Highway was also heavily flooded, recording as much as three feet of rain in some areas. We received a load of calls, and apologize to those viewers whose areas we could not reach – but between water-soaked cameras and rain stalled vehicles, we did as best we could and we’ll get at you next time.