What it is now/the storm in cityWhen we left you on Friday night, Richard was a tropical storm meandering in the Caribbean; tonight, the country is recovering from his wrath: Hurricane Richard was no joke…..
For those living in parts of Southern, Central and Western Belize, the storm was a terror, descending with merciless winds and hammering the Belize district coast for 6 hours.
Happily, there is no loss of life but there is substantial damage to sections of the country in the Belize City, Cayo and Stann Creek Districts - and as we broadcast this tonight we know that most of our viewers in Belize City, Cayo and Stann Creek can't see the news because power has not been restored. We'll have the full official assessment coming up a little later, but we begin our team coverage with the storm's landfall.
The eye of Hurricane Richard made landfall south southwest of Belize City at about 6:00 on Sunday evening with maximum sustained winds of 90 miles per hour, making it a category one storm.
The storm force winds started descending on the city around 2:00 pm - and our team was on the ground. Jules Vasquez and Monica Bodden teamed up for this story:….
At around 3 in the afternoon - with these flags above the courthouse getting a workout, Police guarded neighborhood supermarkets to avoid any pre storm antics - and police also guarded this gas station.
These shelterers were turned away from Grace Primary - while at St. John's Vianney these folks were loading up - and in the Yabra area - these folks were shuttering up.
The marine parade area was gusty - while the waters thick with sewage were vile and black with the outer bands upon Belize, the seawall near lover's point in the king's park area was getting turbulent. An hour later - the same area was piping heavy winds and the storm was driving across marine parade in sheets - a fog of pure force of the tide - as the storm's spume sprayed the area.
Back to the lover's point area - it had gone from wavy to wild - with deep bilious waves and biting winds
"Here at St. Edward Street you can't see anything, the waters are turbid, we were here an hour ago, it's now 4 minutes
to 4 we were here an hour ago and it was just a little rough but now its unmanageable. The rains are singing the winds are in excess of 40 miles an hour, its crazy out here and the eye has not arrived yet."
At the other end of that seafront street - the fury of the storm - was something to behold - waves crashed in explosive surges - and the street flowed like a river…
One Princess Margaret drive this nurse was running home through fallen fronds - and at 5:00 pm this phase two flag at the Belcan roundabout was in tatters and this billboard had already been blown away - while this one just toppled over. And down the street at Malic's poultry this sign was impaled on a sign post - while the main sing was adrift like a kite…
Speaking of kites, the flag at the Taiwanese embassy was reduced to a rag. To show you how quickly conditions deteriorated, this was the area in front of the Fort Street tourism village at 5:00 pm and half an hour later - this was how it looked tents dragged into the street.
But these folks were undaunted - they wanted a walk on the wild side and wild it was with the storm surge now flailing over the marine parade seawall.
Down the street - the zinc sheeting at the MCC was curled up and the trees were battered and broken.
At the rock park, the sea spray show was in effect and on St. Thomas Street this sign dangled helplessly.
The homeless were also helpless - having to endure the storm - exposed to the elements - conditions so bad it was time for
Monica Bodden to take over:
"We are at the height of the storm with 90-100 miles per hour wind. Belize City is being battered by Hurricane Richard."
At that point 5:40 pm - driving down most streets was no longer an option and on Baymen Avenue was impassible because of this massive tree toppling - the same a few blocks away on second street.
The signs were in the streets as the winds wailed down narrow streets - that one fallen this one about to and while we thought that was the height of it - it got significantly worse 40 minutes later - where even doing a standup became near impossible due to the force of wind and rain:
"Its 6:10 pm and the most accurate is that the eye of the storm is over Belize City but as you can see there is no calm."
And no calm and no shelter.
And about an hour and a half after that your waterlogged camera and light failed and we had to go in.
We note that after our team was forced to retire by waterlogged equipment - they almost became news themselves as they got trapped in fast rising waters at 8:00 pm on Marine Parade. Jules Vasquez and Monica Bodden had to call on the Lo-Boy form city council to come and rescue them after their pickup became submerged.
They were promptly rescued and were high and dry shortly after - but that wasn't the only bit of storm misfortune that struck channel 7. Our broadcasting tower at our mile one a half transmission site was tugged down when a massive tree fell unto one of the guy wires and it caused the tower to buckle and collapse unto a high tension wire. It became mangled because the guy wires on the other side held up - creating a most unusual sight. But that's no consolation to us as it has crippled our broadcasting service and made it difficult to restore power form the mains. So if you're seeing this tonight - you are doing so through our fiber optic network with our cable providers. Some of those fiber lines were also damaged when the tower fell on them - so at this time Central Cable has not been reconnected, only CBC and Southern Cable - but we are working to restore all options at this time - so please bear with us.