The next stop in our coverage is in the south. Damage to property was not as stark in Dangriga but residents bunkered down either at home or in shelters. The streets were desolate as the torrential rains poured down for more than six hours. But in Gales Point Manatee it was different story as the eye passed over the village. An emergency team was deployed for residents who did not want to leave. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has that story.
Isani Cayetano, reporting
Across Dangriga, this morning residents were busy repairing structural damages to homes and businesses in the wake of Hurricane Richard as it made its way inland on Sunday evening. Destruction caused by the downpour and strong gusts of wind were minimal compared to other municipalities that were directly hit by the category one storm. Despite what appears to be marginal impact residents are still in the process of assessing damages.
Thomasa Moreira, who lives a stone’s throw from the beachfront returned home today with her children. They spent the night at one of several hurricane shelters.
Thomasa Moreira, Resident, Dangriga Town
“When we come home this morning da then we find lotta trees, leaf, the plant da weh wih mi got back deh root up so we have to replant it over again but the breeze mi only strong last night.”
So strong that it lifted the zinc roofing off a number of houses within this coastal community. At a little after five-thirty Sunday evening the waves came violently crashing ashore. At a nearby playground a swing danced wildly as fierce winds blew everything in sight including a meeting place where many socialize on Garifuna Settlement Day.
John Petillo, Resident, Dangriga Town
“This spot ya dah weh wi usually, da mista Mariano, late John Mariano build this place ya he and ih wife, and you know, da wah, da wah spot weh usually celebrate, you know, the nineteenth, the eighteenth and nineteenth of November, you know. So we haffi try, you know, get back wi, you know, wi have to try build back we structure so that, you know, we could get back the nineteenth in full.”
“The passage of Hurricane Richard through Belize on Sunday evening brought with it torrential rains and gale force winds. In Dangriga, besides a few damaged roofs, there are very few signs of Richard’s presence overnight.”
That was in specific areas of town where some families were out casting fishing nets along the beach. Elsewhere power lines were down and a two hundred foot tower belonging to Siahnet Services was toppled, bending in some places like a giant paperclip.
While the primary focus at the moment is a complete assessment of physical damages which includes a flyover of the areas affected Emergency Management Coordinator, Tanya Nunez, says destruction here was minimal.
Tanya Nunez, Emergency Management Coordinator, Dangriga Town
“What has happened is that we have not had any major damages. As you can see we have had a lot of trees being uprooted. We have had a lot of other trees falling down. People are coming in [uhm] one by one telling us of damages that they have sustained to their houses in terms of roof flying off and things like that. [Uhm] all the shelters have been closed at this time except for parish hall that we are keeping open for all displaced families.”
The green flag indicating that all is clear and that residents can safely return to their homes is being flown at the BDF camp but work, for some, is only just beginning.
Victor Castillo, District Emergency Coordinator, Stann Creek
“We have officers available to do such as damage assessment and we’re visiting all villages including Dangriga Town to do that as soon as possible and we’ll forward a report based on the information that comes in.”
That information will be critical to determine the extent of damages caused in the villages of Gales Point Manatee and Mullins River. Despite attempts to evacuate villagers Nunez says their attempts were futile.
“We have dispatched several teams in three areas: north to Gales Point and Mullins River because as you know we sent the bus for them a second time for them yesterday afternoon and nobody came out so we have dispatched a team over there to assess the damages to Gales Point and they have yet to report back to the EOC.”
“Here at the Mullins River crossing residents are stuck on both sides of its banks as raging waters have washed away gravel that facilitated access to the other side of the road.”
Vice-Chairman of the Mullins River Village Council, Percy Petzold believes the situation in his community is dire.
Percy Petzold, Vice-Chairman, Mullins River Village Council
“The situation is very bad and we need attention at this moment, you know. People need to go across to see their homes and we need help as much as possible and as quick as possible.”
“There has been initial concern from members of the District Emergency Management Organization based out of Dangriga Town specifically with regards to the fact that they were trying to get people to evacuate from Mullins River yesterday. They sent a bus here to try to get people to come out of the village and nobody seemed to be interested in doing so. As the second in command for the village can you speak to us a bit about that?”
“Well I guess I think the owner of the bus will be a problem and some of the people who were there but on my point of view a weather of this nature they should have gone, you know, so I only could get between, you know, I can’t talk on behalf of everybody right.”
Aerial footage of North Stann Creek in the aftermath of Hurricane Richard shows that there was extensive damage to structures and agriculture in those areas. There has been no word on any fatalities within the villages of Gales Point and Mullins River. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.
Hurricane Richard is the tenth for this season but there have been three hurricanes in the past ten years that devastated Belize. Keith swept through Belize on October first, 2000. It caused substantial damage to the islands of San Pedro Caye Caulker. The following year on October eighth 2001, Hurricane Iris, a category four storm with winds of one hundred and fifty-five miles, ripped through southern communities. Punta Negra, Monkey River, Placencia, Seine Bight and Independence were hardest hit. Deeper in the south, a number of villages were severely pummeled and thousands were left homeless. Then in 2007, Dean ravaged the north. Two hundred and seventy-five houses were completely destroyed in Corozal and sixty were damaged in Orange Walk. Later in the newscast, we will have a preliminary assessment of sustained damages. But following is the latest from the weather report.