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Last Thursday, Belizeans were startled after massive flooding around Mile 38 on the George Price Highway caused the road to break apart. Engineers from the Ministry of Works alluded to the culvert not being big enough to withstand the magnitude of flooding caused by the incessant rains. The Ministry and other authorities worked until 10:30 that night to create a makeshift single lane road to restore traffic flow between the Belize and Cayo Districts. This is temporary, however, and they are working on a more permanent solution to withstand another bout of intense flooding. Irvin Thimbrel, the Senior Executive Engineer at the Ministry of Works, gave us an update on the situation.

Another highway that was affected by the flooding was the Hummingbird Highway in southern Belize. Thimbrel also spoke about the bridge that is currently being constructed as well as how they are planning for the future with climate change in mind.

Irvin Thimbrel, Senior Executive Engineer, Ministry of Works: “Hummingbird Highway, and I want people to understand, the Hummingbird Highway situation was a bit different. A bridge is being built and what was washed away was the temporary crossing that was there that is not built to standards as one of the finished bridges it’s only to allow for the free flow of traffic while construction is taking place and that’s exactly what we explained earlier we don’t want to happen if we should have some temporary crossing and the bridge is taken out and then that is washed out we will have a problem. So we have to strategize and plan that we take into consideration possible weather conditions that can occur during this time. As I’ve said before we’re going to be approaching the height of the hurricane season where the rains are going to be coming. I had the privilege of going to UWI when they did the exposition of the effects of climate change and what was revealed is that Belize is going to be the most affected country in the caribbean with climate change. The rains are gonna be more intense, they’re going to be shorter duration and hence what we saw out there was a precursor of what is coming. We’re going to be having areas that never flood before flooding now compounded with land clearing and all those issues anybody who has a good idea about hydraulic design and modeling will know that as you clear away the forest it lends itself to the water not percolating into the soil but flowing quickly towards the rivers and other ravines and flooding them quickly so what we need to do now is plan taking those things into consideration. So it has to be some kind of idea that is done by several different departments maybe reforestation, controlling how people develop agricultural plots for residential services, how those lands are cleared to then work in harmony with what the Ministry of Works is doing.”

We will continue to monitor the progress of the road at Mile 38.