But the worst was yet to come. Twenty-four hours after the passage of Richard, the picture of the devastation began to emerge. The Category one hurricane slammed into Belize City with a vengeance. The hurricane force winds caused the collapse of wooden houses throughout the city. Trees tumbled atop some houses or fell across streets, electricity was interrupted and central and southern Belize was plunged into darkness. Thousands sought refuge at shelters and others were sorry they braved it at home. Marion Ali and cameramen George Tillett and Jorge Tabora waded through the debris and have a report on the aftermath of Richard in the City.
Marion Ali, Reporting
Many residents of Belize City are today homeless in the aftermath of Hurricane Richard, which left in its wake a number of damaged houses whose structures could not withstand its wrath. In the Yarborough area, five families who were living in dwellings adjacent to the Caribbean Sea were all rendered homeless when their houses were washed away. Elimio Rivera lived in one of the dwellings.
Emilio Rivera, Hurricane Victim
“Water di pour in like river. We come dah back yah come check pan fi we house and thing and water deh way up to fi we chest and thing. When we look all fi we house gone.”
“How many homes?”
“Well my house mid eh deh so. That gone. Wah next lee house mi deh, deh. Wah next lee one mi deh deh so three ah den deh house gone into that balli and ih house get crush down deh so and the next lee small one dah back deh so.”
“Yeah, five house.”
While Rivera and his neighbors did not weather the storm inside their homes, on the other side of town where the Haulover Creek runs, Peter Lauriano thought they were safe at home. But his curiosity and the integrity of his home came under a hard test and both gave in to Richard’s wrath.
Peter Lauriano, Hurricane Victim
“The water come way pan mi bed. My bed deh way up yah and water come way up deh. Four feet, my bed deh high.”
“Why did you decide to stay here?”
“I just mi want see how ih mi wah be. Everything just soak and majority ah everything gone. My home appliances everything just wash out.”
There are hundreds more testimonials from persons wose homes simply buckled under the pressure of ninety-mile-an-hour winds or to the storm surge which flooded the lower lying portions of the old capital. Errol Pollard and his family lived at sixty five West Collet Canal, and he too suffered total devastation. We found him and his wife this morning sitting in front of what used to be their home.
Errol Pollard, Hurricane Victim
“I mi tek this storm lightly. All the previous storm deh come and nothing noh happen. I noh wahn seh I neva prepared right. I mi did tek some precautions and thing but I neva really expect it like this yoh understand? We just di try salvage wah lee one or two thing. TV gone and everything gone.”
“Were you here when it?”
“No I was next door at my neighbor’s and we heard the house crack and I was like wow and then I looked through the window and the whole thing collapsed.”
Aside from these and the many other stories of losses, there are other structures like the Church of Christ which lost a portion of it’s roofing, and the Customs Department which was also damaged when the shutters on one of its buildings was destroyed.
At mile two on the Western Highway a couple of Channel 7’s satellite dishes were damaged and its transmission tower was bent like soldering wire. Amidst the mood of devastation and loss, the one image of promise was that community spirit as the people in the Yarborough community displayed when they were cleaning up debris left by the hurricane. Marion Ali reporting for News Five.