Tonight, floodwaters have invaded the southern villages of Blue Creek and Mafredi as residents have been forced to evacuate their homes.
And as they flee, they have to wonder if those homes will ever be the same.
Reports reaching 7 news is that water and mud from the Moho River has inundated houses. We spoke via phone to local tour guide turned flood victim, Vicente Ical about the damage he's seeing in his village.
Voice of: Vicente Ical, Flood Victim
"What we are experiencing right now is a lot of rain, lots of wind coming from the west blowing towards the village of Blue Creek, because we live 15 minutes from the cave entrance, lots of water coming from the valleys and into this cave system and passing through the village itself and different homes and damaging inside their homes and a lot of people are trying to remove their items and moving to higher ground. There are busses here taking people to about 3-4 miles from here to a village called Mafredi and they are getting help there from NEMO and other groups. The water is still high about 20-25 feet above the bridge. It's coming from the cave of Blue Creek village and it's flowing down to Moho River."
"I live closer to the mountain side. Water passing through the different area around our home, but the people who lives lower below their houses are under water right now as we speak."
"What do you think is the cause of all this flooding, is it just the location of the village or is it lack of infrastructure?"
Voice of: Vicente Ical, Flood Victim
"We have experience this about 3 times already from Hurricane Iris in 2001, the water just flows down through the village itself and it creates a lot of damage to our crops and family homes and so forth. Right now I would say its typically a rainy season, but we always panic a lot, because when it rains and then there are flash floods coming passing through very fast. So we just have to be on the safe side and then what we do to help other people is the Mennonite would come to the village, they will have their vehicles and see who have their busses and trucks and they would take people to higher ground. When the water passes through the villages it would enter inside the walls, because a lot of the walls are board walls and water would find its way inside through different areas and wash much of their dirt floors and creates a lot of mud inside. All the mud that the river brings goes inside the homes."
And this afternoon the Department of Hydrology announced that the Rio Grande river is at flood stage and rising, while the Temash River, and the Moho River are all at flood stage, with the Blue Creek Bridge covered since 7:00 this morning. Flood levels are still increasing; and at Jordan, levels are above normal and increasing.
The TEMASH RIVER at Crique Sarco is also at FLOOD STAGE and increasing.
Flood Victims Both Hungry And Thirsty
But while Ical who finds himself on higher ground is remaining calm, another Blue Creek resident who didn't wish to be named called our newsroom this evening with a desperate plea for help.
Voice of: Victim of Flooding
"We have several persons in the shelter, well a so-called shelter here at Mafredi area. They don't even have basic needs like water. These persons have not eaten breakfast and some of them haven't had breakfast because of the rising waters this morning they were forced to evacuate and the NEMO Toledo have been taking very long to answer the person's request and its seems that they do not have a proper preparedness in place. So that is the exact thing that I want to portray at this moment."
"We have elders in the shelter. Like I said there are children here that have not eaten. At the moment we have about 60 persons here in the shelter without water and food. We are trying to get in contact with Mr. Kenton Parham. We really need help here as regards to basic necessities, water and food for the persons, especially the ones that have evacuated."
"40 families have been affected by this flood. That is like 132 persons and we need help urgently. It's not only water and basic necessities and there are persons here in the shelter and we don't have persons advising us as to an estimated time of arrival for the help and I have the village leaders as well here. They advise us to keep our circle, meaning that we have to stay with our families. Persons who live in one home would stay together and we are trying our best to adhere to that protocol. It seems that it's raining more in Blue Creek. There are several homes that uses fire hearth, they don't have a basic stove and they use firewood and firewood is wet right now, so they are unable to cook for their families. We need help in regards to that."
And sadly those villagers will have to cool their heels in that shelter a bit longer because the forecast is flood levels on the Rio Grande at San Pedro Columbia and Moho rivers at Blue Creek South are expected to continue through to Thursday evening, before receding to above normal levels.
Tropical Wave Floods Toledo Villages Catching Residents by Surprise
Tuesday night’s heavy rains and cooler weather might have been good sleeping weather for some, but the deluge caught many in the Toledo District off guard. Today, they were scrambling to secure livestock, figuring out how to get across flooded roads and bridges, or finding themselves cut off from the main road or their neighbors. Many villagers have been posting images to social media, calling out for assistance, or just sharing their situation. News Five’s Paul Lopez has the story of the tropical wave and how it brought torrential rain to the south.
On the Phone: San Vicente Resident
“This is how San Vicente looks this afternoon. One of the houses has been flooded and is half way up the building. Most of his stuff has been carried out by water. Since he is all the way at the entrance of the community, we were not aware. The owner of the house is out in town, except the children were home. We were notified later, and that is how he lost most of this stuff in the flood. This is the first ever flood we have seen in this community. The bridge is under water right now.”
Paul Lopez, Reporting
Incessant rain over night led to flooding in communities across the Toledo District.
On the Phone: Leslie Parham, Triple Ls Farms, Mafredi Village
“From last night we had steady rain coming into this morning. And now, about seven, eight I start to see the water coming up very fast. It took about half hour to an hour where it really top gallon the banks and flow right over on the farms, where I have to move over all the life stock, the sheep, the horse, cows chicken. We haven’t expected this rain to come sudden. At this time, I move my family to higher grounds which are about a mile from us. We still haven’t gotten across the stream as yet, because we cannot pass. In a specific area.”
“You are trapped?”
On the Phone: Leslie Parham
“Yeah, we are trapped; we cannot cross the river until the water goes down. Never yet, never yet sir, water comes high but never over the farm area that I have, never yet.”
News Five also received images of flooding in San Pedro Colombia.
Chief Meteorologist at the Belize Met Service, Ronald Gordon, explained that the heavy rainfall was caused by a tropical wave passing over the country and intensifying into last night, affecting mainly the south.
Ronald Gordon, Chief Meteorologist
“We had a tropical wave that crossed us. This morning its axis was directly over Belize. It was an active wave. It started affecting the country I would say as early as yesterday morning, and we start having rain falls. Those continued throughout the day and increased last night. The other thing with the particular wave is that it had an area which can vent deep convection, and it allowed the convection to develop and give it a pump to take that air out and allow that thunderstorm to increase and intensify. That is what happens over the past twenty four to thirty-four hour, resulting in heavy rain falls, particularly over the south. One of our stations in Corazon Toledo recorded just over five inches of rain over the past thirty six hours.”
The National Met Service has been tracking and monitoring this tropical wave. Rain was forecast for Tuesday and Wednesday; additionally, a flood alert and small craft warning was issued.
“The first thing is that there is going to be an improvement. As I mentioned the axis of the wave is now to the west of us, so it is moving away. And as a result, conditions are going to improve. However, the south in particular will have lingering moisture behind. We can expect at least another one to two inches of rain fall between this afternoon and tonight, decreasing further tomorrow Thursday. However, we do see another tropical wave coming towards us for Saturday or so, and so that will eventually lead to another surge in moisture late Friday going into Saturday.”
Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.
Three other southern villages got some bad news of their own today as the Government of Belize announced that the COVID-19 lockdown will continue for Barranco, Midway and Conejo villages until the end of the month, July thirty-first.