And while there are those who ignore the public safety warnings at
their own great peril - in Cayo it is clear enough that they are
witnessing the heaviest floods they have seen since 2008.
Now, so far, it's not quite as bad as 2008 - but the rains continue out
west - and water is still coming down from the mountains.
Today Cherisse Halsall and Codie Norales went to see what it's like in
Cayo and its surrounding environs. Here's their report:
Yesterday we showed you footage of Central San Ignacio and its low lying
bridge that had been completely submerged under floodwaters but by this
morning those waters had risen even higher
The Welcome Center has welcomed almost a foot of water. Floodwaters from
the Macal river have pushed into central San Ignacio. Rising waters here in
front of the Welcome Center have also forced several centrally located
businesses, once essential to tourism to lose even more of their revenue.
We heard from one concerned resident despairing at the state of his town.
Stephen Perez - Resident of San Ignacio
"It's the heart of our hometown and we kind of feel a kind a way because
And this morning the City's traffic supervisor was scrambling to stop
motorists driving through the flood.
Desmond Gentle - Head Supervisor, Traffic Department
"I would not, it's not something I was looking forward to drive through the
flood waters because we have small debris in the water, so it's impossible
I would say. As You can see I have several areas locked off, no vehicle is
able to access this entire area, this is the Savannah area and no vehicle
has access to this area no because of the height of the water."
The Mayor says he'd expected this level of flooding and expects it to last
well into next week's election day.
Earl Trapp - Mayor, San Ignacio and Santa Elena
"At the rate of which the water was rising yesterday and the projection for
the rains, yes we were anticipating that the water would have reached to
this level and definitely with the projection of the rain for the next 72
hours defiantly be water will reach further, it's gonna reach burns avenue
or all the way to courts. I'm hoping that the water will subside very soon,
I don't see it subsiding before Thursday Wednesday next week and then
thereafter we will have to bring persons from the town council, persons
from the business community, we'll have to bring in the fire department to
help us to wash and flush down the muck that will remain thereafter. We're
already bombarded with the pandemic and now with the flooding it is just
something that people will have to cope with and live with and hope for the
They're also hoping for the best in Spanish Lookout where the main access
road is completely impassable.
And as the rain continues to fall the waters have one of Orlando "Landy"
Habet's billboard's in a precarious situation.
Over in Bullet Tree the river was on the verge of overtaking the Salvador
Further on villagers are having to evacuate by dorey. And shortly after he
and his family crossed we spoke to Joshua Manzanero about why the time was
right to flee.
Joshua Manzanero - Flood Victim
"We had to do it, we had to come out flooding already, the river is going
up and we had to come out."
"So, was your home threatened? "
"Well, it's a little bit high but we had to come out because we can't
secure ourselves right there so we had to find shelter, where to go."
"So, are you going to a government shelter?"
"Not really we are going here at a church."
We also met this young man, acting as the Santa Familia crossing guard.
Mario Christian - Volunteer
"I have seen a lot of scenery this morning, this morning was a lot of
people at the spot that is raining and water is rising more again. I'm just
working right now for a little while and watching that people don't go
crossing stupidly because right there is deep. Just help them take out
their things to the side and that's it. Pickup truck just pass just right
now, once the truck is high you can cross."
The Dams And The Floods
And the Mopan is set to go up even more - with the water spilling over
the dams upriver in the Maya Mountains.
Now, without the dams, the flooding could have been much worse.
That's because the three dams in the Macal River - the Mollejon, the
Chalilo, and the Vaca - prevent water from rushing downstream, which
slows the flooding process. And today - those dams reached their
containment capacity as huge volumes of water could be seen rushing
over the spillways.
The dams are owned and managed by BECOL and the Environment Health and
Safety Officer, Oscar Alonzo, told us about the hydraulics at work in a
flood event such as this.
Oscar Alonzo - Environmental Health & Safety Officer, BECOL
"The first facility the Chalillo which is upstream near the head of the
Macal River and that has the largest reservoir, so the water passes through
Chalillo and generates power, same thing happens down Vaca which is the
last facility along the river and then after it passed through Vaca then it
heads down stream San Ignacio and other areas down the stream. So, in times
like this when we have storms and extreme weather events, what the dams do
is that they capture a lot of the water coming downstream and then it
released in a controlled fashion while we generate power. So, if you look
it historically, you might see that before the dams were there, the San
Ignacio area would have gotten flooded maybe 2, 3 times for the year, we're
talking water rising to the level of downtown. With the dams there now,
these events are much more rare because the dams capture a lot of the water
coming downstream and it only being spilling once it reach full supply
level. In cases like this, the flood waters take a lot longer to reach
downstream San Ignacio and then the rise is much more gradual as opposed to
the flash flooding that we've seen in other areas of the country. The first
one was commissioner in 1995, that was the Mollejon facility and Mollejon
is actually one that is our workhouse that produced the most power of the
3. Then following that we had Chalillo built and the main purpose of
building Chalillo was to have a water supply for the other facilities
downstream. Chalillio came online in 2005 and later in 2010 the Vaca
facility came online. So Chalillo was built after Mollejon to solve the
problem of having a consistent water supply for the other 2 facilities
Now, there is some community concern about all that water tumbling over
the spillways at the dams - and heading towards the western
According to Alonzo, indeed the river is expected to rise faster around
He confirms that all this water will eventually find its way to San
Ignacio and Benque - which will have faster rising levels. He adds that
BECOL already informed NEMO, who will be responsible for the
evacuations if necessary.