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SAN IGNACIO TOWN/BROASTER STADIUM/MARKET & WELCOME CENTER
Photos: Rob Trujillo

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Market vendors and business owners evacuation in downtown San Ignacio/Santa Elena



San Ignacio/ Santa Elena Mayor Earl Trapp is currently on the ground in the twin towns assessing damages, as flood waters continue to rise. Based on his experience, Mayor Trapp expects the Macal River to overflow into the San Ignacio market. Vendors are being advised to evacuate the area, while residents in low lying areas along the river are being advised to relocate. News Five spoke with Mayor Trapp this morning.



The Macal River Rapidly Rising



Flooding Situation in Benque Viejo del Carmen
Video: Miguel Martinez

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While Ambergris Caye has experienced rains triggered by Hurricane Julia, the flooding on the mainland has entire communities such as San Ignacio Town, Cayo under water. Its welcome center and surrounding areas are dangerously swamped and residents are scrambling to higher ground.


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Hurricane Julia missed Belize but the effects did damage to many location especially in the southern region of Belize.


Flooding from Tropical Storm Julia | Spanish Lookout, Belize
Aerial view of flooding from Tropical Storm Julia. Not quite as much as Hurricane Eta in October 2020 but very close. The 4 entrances/exit to Spanish Lookout were under water. Iguana Creek bridge, Baking Pot ferry, Farmer's Express road, Bullet Tree Road. Video courtesy Dorothy Loewen.

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Rachel Graham

Ms Eleanor's house has just fallen into the Caribbean Sea. Hers was an icon for Monkey River's community, with its large balcony facing the sea to watch the fishers' boats head out to the fishing grounds and come back home after a long day.

This loss is the combined effect of coastal erosion from misdirected high-level central decisions swayed by private interests over the needs of coastal communities, storm surge from more impactful storms and rising seas.

Climate change is here. It's no longer at our doorstep, it has taken our doorstep. And in Ms Eleanor's case, it is taking the whole house.

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Pics. Jean Castellanos

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NEMO ADVISORY NO. 4 - FLOODING IN CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN BELIZE

As at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, 11th October 2022

The Department of Hydrology and National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) hereby inform the public that flooding continues in the Cayo and Belize districts and to a lesser extent in the south. Flooding has so far affected some 30 communities in central and southern Belize. Approximately 3,000 families have been directly or indirectly impacted, with dozens of homes, vehicles, equipment, farms and crops damaged. Four rescue operations saved 15 families and 11 shelters were opened. Today in the Cayo District, 6 shelters remain open with 104 shelterees. Five bridges were closed and slightly damaged, 2 ferries (Xunantunich and Baking Pot) were closed, 10 road networks flooded out, 11 rivers and 4 creeks reached flood stage, and 1 water system for BWS was impacted in San Ignacio Town. NEMO relief supplies committee provided 60 families with food packs today in the Cayo District.

NEMO drone conducted aerial assessments in the flood zone. The Macal River is receding, the Mopan River rose four inches in the last five hours due to flooding in Guatemala, the Sibun River is flooded, and the Rio Hondo is rising slowly. The Crooked Tree causeway, Double Run and Isabella Bank areas are showing a significant rise in water level. Roads that are closed are the Coastal Road, Bullet Tree-Santa Familia road, Bullet Tree-Calla Creek road, the Cristo Rey pump road, and the Hopkins-Sittee road.

The National Emergency Operations Center (NEOC) convened its operational meeting this morning to review plans for anticipated flooding in the Belize Rural communities. The damage assessment flyover for western Belize will take place tomorrow with representatives from the national damage assessment committee, the Government Press Office, and the ministries of Agriculture and Infrastructure Development and Housing. The Belize Rural Emergency Committee will be meeting tomorrow morning.

If you live near a river, creek, or low-lying area take the necessary actions to save your life. Check on the elderly and persons with disabilities. If you need to seek shelter move early, do not wait until it's too late. Move before nightfall. Before leaving home, secure your documents and your pets. Farmers in the Belize River Valley and Crooked Tree areas are advised to move livestock and crops to a safe place. Move early! If your home is likely to flood, before leaving secure your home, unplug appliances, and turn off electricity, gas, and the main water valve.

Avoid walking, playing and driving through flood waters. Six inches of running water can knock you down and one foot of water can sweep your vehicle away. Stomach illness due to contaminated water is increasing in the Cayo District. Wash hands thoroughly before handling food and water. In flooded areas, boil or purify water before drinking it. As much as possible, use bottled water for drinking and preparing and cooking food. Store 1 gallon of water per day for each person in your home for drinking and cooking.

The public is advised to stay away from downed power lines as they are dangerous. Never touch them. For safety's sake, always assume that a fallen power line is live. Please follow these guidelines: avoid touching the downed line with your hand or an object such as a stick, broom, or pole. Avoid touching any object or person who is in contact with a fallen power line, and avoid driving over a fallen power line. Keep children and pets away from fallen electric lines.

NEMO's emergency hotline is 936. Stay alert, be prepared.

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Photo: San Ignacio Town, 11th October 2022

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Floods Flashed Through Cayo/Benque

And zeroing in on the west, two years ago, Cayo suffered major flooding after Hurricanes Eta and Iota hit the Central American region. And this past weekend, it was almost like deja vu - so much so, that the residents were worried their homes and businesses would end up submerged.

Thankfully, this time around, it wasn't nearly as traumatic, but those in the low lying areas of Cayo still had to contend with rising and rushing flood waters.

Courtney Menzies travelled west today to find residents sweeping up the debris with a weary resignation. Here's that story.

As Hurricane Julia washed over Central American countries like Nicaragua and El Salvador, its rains drenched Belize as well. And though the country didn't take a direct hit, those rains were enough for the streets of Cayo's towns and villages to turn into rivers.

Earl Trapp, Mayor, San Ignacio/Santa Elena
"We were monitoring first thing yesterday morning, we came out again and we monitored the water levels but it was just below the low-lying bridge and within 2 hours from that, it was already moving all the way up beyond the bridge and moving much more than we had anticipated."

"Immediately we began to advise the market vendors that they need to begin packing and evacuate because it's anticipated that water levels will reach beyond the market area so it was good that everyone complied and they began packing up. By, I would say, 1 o'clock, water was already in the market area."

"NEMO's personnel were out working the different area, monitoring the water levels and closing off streets that were inundated, for example we had the, once the water level reaches below the low-lying bridge here, it means that the water level is already flowing over the low-lying bridge by Iguana Creek. Then we had another area by Cristo Rey, another bridge that was inundated, we had the entrance to Succotz that was inundated, the entrance to Benque and the bridge, or the creek, the culvert, at the end of Bullet Tree Village, the start of Santa Familia, that was inundated as well."

And further west, it only got worse. Water rushed into homes in villages like San Jose Succotz, Bullet Tree Falls, and in Benque Viejo Town. The rising flood waters forced the residents to act quick to protect their belongings, and hope that they wouldn't need rescuing. And the water's current dragged debris into their yards and fences.

It was a frightening experience for these village and town residents, but in the end, no lives were lost, and most of them spent today cleaning out their businesses and homes.

Kenneth Arth, Tour Operator, San Jose Succotz
"Yesterday afternoon it came up to the bottom of the foundation here and then about two hours later it just started coming right into the office but I managed to get everything out of here and overnight, everything went down again but I noticed this afternoon that it's coming back up and it's up about six inches now. So I'm not moving anything back in yet till perhaps tomorrow because I think all the water is coming from Guatemala."

Courtney Menzies:
"But you didn't sustain any major damages to any of your equipment?"

Kenneth Arth, Tour Operator, San Jose Succotz
"No, I had about six inches of water in my office but I managed to get everything out before the water got into the office but it came up very fast this time."

Courtney Menzies:
"And when you hear of storms coming do you anticipate floods all the time?"

Kenneth Arth, Tour Operator, San Jose Succotz
"I do now, I've been through, this would be my third one, so I do anticipate it and I heed it, in other words, I start moving my things out."

Shamira Usher, Resident, Benque
"When the flood started to come into my house, I was frightened because I thought we would have to call NEMO again like last year, because last year as worse, but now, it calmed down after a while because they had already cleaned up the dam, so it went down fast. Last year, it was a lot of mosquitos and everything like, we had to suffer a lot. And this year, well, at least God blessed us because it gone fast, the water, and there were no mosquitos and so."

"I was trying to save myself, because it's a big loss, you know, TV and everything, we had to put it up on a high level because if we put it like there, it would have been messed up, we had to take out everything, fix it."

Courtney Menzies:
"What are some of the stuff that got damaged?"

Shamira Usher, Resident, Benque
"Our clothes, everything, our clothes, machines, things that we use."

Courtney Menzies:
"Like your washing machine?"

Shamira Usher, Resident, Benque
"Yes… TV's. Today we're trying to clean and trying to find back our stuff because it's a big loss."

Anibal Gomez, Resident, Benque
"Yesterday what I saw was that the water was going very high, and quick, in minutes the water started to get into my yard so I was very afraid because we have to remove things, our stuff from in the house to the other house and I was very afraid of that."

"Yesterday was very serious, the water was going fast."

Courtney Menzies:
"So that was the first time you saw flood waters like that?"

Anibal Gomez, Resident, Benque
"No, this is the third time, but this time it was going faster, more flood, the water is going higher."

Miguel Martinez, Resident, Benque
"Today we decided to cook some food for them and we cannot give to everywhere but at least a two or three per residence."

Courtney Menzies:
"And the amount of flood you saw yesterday, is that something you normally see?"

Miguel Martinez, Resident, Benque
"No, not really. Honestly, no."

Courtney Menzies:
"And when you saw that car underwater, what went through your mind?"

Miguel Martinez, Resident, Benque
"Well, we tried to call the owner but to no avail because the owner is supposed to be working in Belize City."

But by this morning, the flood waters in the west had mostly receded, though the rivers still remained high - halfway up trees near the bank - and rushing with deadly speeds - keeping residents wary but ready.

Julia: A Cat One Storm, But A Cat 5 Headache For Central America

So, from those snapshots of flooding in Cayo to the freak storm that hit Lake I in Belize City, we take you now to fly-over synopsis of Hurricane Julia's impacts on Central America: from its landfall in Nicaragua to the formation of a differently named storm from its remnants.

We got that report 90 minutes ago from the Chief Meteorologist, Ronald Gordon:

Ronald Gordon - Chief Meteorologist
"The system moved in a general westward track as was forecasted and eventually became a category one hurricane, with winds of 85 miles per hour, making landfall on the coast of Nicaragua early on Sunday morning. After landfall, the system moved on a more westerly track than was expected initially, rather than west-northwestward, and continued impacting Nicaragua, but moving more on a truck that prevented it from moving over the mountains - so to speak - and dissipating. So, it survived the trip across Nicaragua and emerged into the eastern Pacific as a tropical storm, eventually recurving, and making landfall on Guatemala, and dissipating on Monday afternoon. More relevant to us, as we had expected, the outer bands of this system produce torrential rainfall over the weekend. We saw the rainfalls increasing ahead of the system with a moist northeasterly airflow from as early as Friday into Saturday. And then, the heavier stuff came down on Sunday when the system when the outer bands began affecting Belize. So certainly, we had impacts on the system in terms of gusty winds, torrential rainfall, as we expected, and then there was also the huge battering waves that affected portions of Monkey River, I believe - well, other parts of the country, as well as coastal areas of the country. So that basically summarizes the meteorological impacts from Julia, and mostly from the older bands of the system, as we mentioned previously. The system currently is dissipated, but a part of its remnants went across the Yucatan and emerged into the Bay of Campeche in the Gulf of Mexico and was declared Tropical Storm Karl this afternoon. It is moving away from us to the northwest but will recurve a bit, and then move a bit southward into Mexico, and dissipate over Mexico. With the system moving away or the remnants having moved away, weather conditions have improved significantly, as we see today."

The Chief Met Officer then discussed the many inches of rain that fell all over Belize. Here's that part of his report:

Ronald Gordon - Chief Meteorologist
"On Sunday, we had rainfall totals of almost six inches in the Placencia area and also in other parts of the country. In Middlesex, we had about eight inches of rainfall. Eventually, on Monday, the remnants moved farther west and affected the western parts of the country, San Ignacio/Santa Elena, where we saw upwards of three inches of rainfall in a very short period of time, producing the flooding event that we saw in that area."

Dramatic Rescue on Flooded Coastal Road

Hurricane Julia made landfall as a Category 1 Storm early Sunday in Nicaragua. And, as so many communities across Central America have learned, the storm's major damage was not so much with wind, but with rain. Southern Belize got the most of it: On Sunday, Placencia recorded 6 inches of rainfall, while Middlesex recorded 8. And then on Monday, the remnants of Julia moved west and dumped rains on the Cayo District, where 3 inches of rainfall came down in a hurry - and caused flash floods out west.

Now, those waters are rushing down towards Central Belize - and that's where a flooding Sibun river created the most dramatic scene so far - it happened today on the Coastal Road. Jules Vasquez has that story and an overview of some of the more dramatic scenes coming out of the dangerously wet weekend:

Strong currents coursing across the Coastal Highway washed this cargo truck off the road this morning - forcing the driver to seek higher ground on top of the truck.

And when it keeled over, this is the daring rescue that had to be executed across raging waters:

Rescuer
"Hold on good old byway... you got it? alright, tie it pon di vehicle. You just make sure you hold the belt good with your two hands."

A miracle rescue on a new road that is being pressed and worried by rushing waters - already the fresh pavement is being eroded - as witnessed by Will Maheia.

Wil Maheia
"And here are. Again you can see the side of the culvert and the road that was just paved maybe a few weeks or months ago, already is eating out. But this has to do with the small culverts. I don't know who were the engineers. I'm not an engineer, I must say, but it just seems like the culvert here is so small and its causing this massive break up of this new highway that has hardly been use."

Indeed, the Coastal culverts are under pressure, the waters gnawing at the pavement - but that has to do with the level of the floodwaters - the road was raised and the culverts are high, but the hydraulic pressure of all that water just cannot fit through the culvert.

And that's the case almost everywhere. In Monkey River this abandoned house pushed off its foundation was captured on Sunday, the raging sea and angry waves lapping up its demise. And while that is the coast, inland in the Cayo district the towns were brown, entire SUV's swallowed by fast rising flood waters as the Mopan and Macal burst their banks.

And while the scene may look romantic, water rarely gets this close to the Hawkesworth deck - although in Hurricane Eta it was higher.

Indeed, nature's great force can go from grotesque to strangely picturesque in just a few hundred feet.

And wide, turbid rivers rolling to the sea - while fearsome up close have a certain lyrical quality from above - reminding us powerfully of the restlessness of water.

A regards the events on the Coastal Road, an MIDH engineer told us, first, that the driver of that cargo truck missed the road, which is how he got stuck at the edge of the embankment and eventually toppled. And, regarding the culverts - the engineer says that's not the problem. He says area is now very flood prone because a berm was built to keep the tapirs and jaguars off the road, but it's also keeping the floodwater from running off.

Floodwaters Coming To Belize District

As we saw, the Cayo District was the most affected by flash floods, but as viewers are aware, all those flood waters will eventually make its way to the Belize District to the usual flood catchment areas.

Here's the NEMO Coordinator's warning of eventual flooding that will most likely affect the Belize River Valley, and other flood-prone areas of the Belize District:

Colonel Shelton Defour - NEMO Coordinator
"We are bracing for potentially a significant flood event in the Belize River Valley area, the water is cresting in the Belize River in the Cayo District. It's moving downhill at a rapid paste and so with the inundation where the ground was already saturated in those areas due to pooling and accumulation of water. It means now that you have this second wave of flood waters that will reach into places like Crooked Tree. They are already experiencing flooding; a family is being affected and so far, they have decided not to move as yet. We have advised them to move and so we'll see other communities like Lemonal which will be impacted and all the string of communities in the river valley. So we are warning people to take heed, listen to the advisory. Another advisory will be coming out this evening giving some specifics as to what people ought to be doing - move to safety, move your animals. The ministry of agriculture in the national emergency center meeting this morning is working with farmers in BelRiv and the Crooked Tree area so that they could move out whatever crops, livestock etc to a safe area, because we know that's the flood event that they are now seeing starting could get worse. As far as perhaps Lord's Bank and parts of Ladyville. The water is coming down the Sibun River in the Belize District. There is flooding at this point in the coastal road, we could see the water moving from the high ground into the lower reaches into these catchment areas, so flooding will take place more than likely in those communities and the Belize River Valley."

The NEMO Coordinator is also concerned that Belizeans aren't following their safety advisories, specifically about attempting to traverse through flood waters affecting the different parts of the country. He made the point that whenever a citizen becomes distressed, such as that driver on the Coastal Road, rescue personnel are then forced to risk their lives:

Colonel Shelton Defour - NEMO Coordinator
"You mentioned about people going against the advice of NEMO and we have a responsibility to keep the public informed and to advise them accordingly. It is the individuals or individuals who have to adhered to those advice and not to take the risk and believe that they could take the chance of going through flood waters either walking through it or driving through it, because you're putting your life and your equipment at risk. We saw in Trinidad recently a lady from this very same system try to cross a ditch and got sweep away and I don't think they have recovered her body as yet, so its very serious and you put the search and rescue team at risk, because they have to go out sometimes at night and they have families as well and so when people are not taking the advisory serious, it has a severe impact on the decision making that we have to make; do we take the chance or not. So, we implore the public to take the advisories. Don't play in flood waters. The ministry of health is concerned about dermatitis and about gastro-intestinal illness which is in the increase due to contaminated water. They are seeing ecoli in some of the tests they are running. So the secondary impact is also of major concern."

Floods Damaged Crops

The Ministry responsible for Disaster Risk Management and the Ministry of Agriculture are already anticipating major financial losses to farmers in the parts of the country that was most affected by the flash flood.

Here's what Minister Habet had to say about the major spoilage of crops that were either already matured, or in the process of harvesting - but which are now underwater:

Orlando Habet - Minister of Disaster Risk Management
"A lot of the production for agricultural food items in the Spanish Lookout/Cayo area was affected, especially soybeans, black beans, red beans, and also corn. And some of these were already - the process for harvesting had already commenced. So when it rains came and the flooding increases, some of these went underwater. Some of them are still underwater. So, maybe there'll be a certain percentage that will still be able to be harvested. However, spoilage commences very quickly because they're now soaked up in floodwater. They will have to be put through a drying process, which is also expensive. But also, the cost of harvesting increases because the machinery, the combine, which normally does the harvesting for corn and beans, will not be able to pick them up off the ground. So, if they want to really get some of that product that's now in the ground, it will involve manual harvesting, which is very expensive and very inefficient. Many times, the water soaks into the seeds, and they start germinating even before you are able to harvest them. So, there would be significant losses, but as the Colonel mentioned, we would be able to do an estimate after the waters recede. However, the Minister of Agriculture has already deployed his teams from the Agriculture Department to start doing assessments where the water has commenced to recede, and they can start to do some of those assessments."

Relief For Flood Victims

So, what about relief efforts for the victims of this natural disaster? Minister Orlando Habet spoke about relief efforts:

Orlando Habet - Minister of Disaster Risk Management
"Today in Cabinet, we submitted a preliminary report, which was prepared by the team. Cabinet is prepared to support us as much as possible. We have a contingency fund that we have available to source the funding to get the de-reservation, and to buy the materials and supplies. As we know it right now, those who are in shelters will need food, but when the cleanup starts, that would be cleaning supplies that we need, and other materials have to come into play. Certainly, we will be looking at a lot of damage to infrastructure. And just about a few months ago, we know that we had severe damage to infrastructure, roads, a few bridges, and culverts that were destroyed. And once again, we will go through that. We will be getting support from the government, but we will also be looking at the total assessment. And based on that assessment, perhaps we can also seek some assistance from some foreign entities."

Daniel Ortiz
"What sort of relief efforts can be provided to the victims who suffer the most in the natural disaster? Some of them are starting to consider, okay, so, how do I go about rebuilding what I lost?"

Orlando Habet
"When we look at Like homes and materials from within the home are a lot more personal to them, and it's difficult. The government doesn't have a set system in place for that kind of assistance. But we have a Ministry of Infrastructure and Housing, which will also be looking at that, making some assessments. Some assistance will be able to be provided for those people who lost a home or - possibly, like in a case in Santa Familia, where one house was just moved away because of a little landslide. It's in my constituency. So, certainly, we will be able to help. Some of them were roofs that were blown off in Belize City, sort of what people characterize as a mini tornado. So, some assistance will be able to be given in that situation. For the agriculture sector, it's definitely something that has to be looked at. The government can never provide all of it. Many times, if there is assistance for small farmers in trying to assist them with seed material, fertilizers, and also to do, maybe - through the Ministry of Agriculture to assist them with plowing and preparing their lands again for replanting - that kind of assistance would be provided."

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Rising Water Levels in Cayo District

There was a daring rescue earlier today along the Coastal Road where a vehicle driver whose delivery truck was inundated by floodwater had to be saved from the raging current.� It was a successful effort at saving the life of one individual.� But tonight, other parts of the country remain submerged as flood waters are gradually receding in the west. �On Monday, the water level of the Mopan and Macal rivers rose by several feet. Businesses were flooded out and several areas across the Cayo District and downtown San Ignacio were inundated. There was quick response by the National Emergency Management Organization to rescue persons who were trapped in certain communities and several shelters were opened. News Five's Duane Moody reports from western Belize.

Duane Moody, Reporting

There was an air of despair on Monday as water levels in the Mopan and Macal Rivers rose quickly to submerge areas in downtown San Ignacio/Santa Elena and surrounding villages.� Main roads were impassable and some communities were cut off from the rest of the country. Several families were displaced and businesses relocated. As early as Sunday night, the Emergency Operation Center was activated and waves of distress calls came rushing in from various villages.

Javier Castellanos, Interim Regional Coordinator, NEMO Central

"Our areas of concern so far, Benque has been lots of rain. The Mopan River, Succotz rising with a view that we had to re-strategize because Benque might be isolated from the area where Succotz is. So we are concentrating on Succotz, we are concentrating on Calla Creek also and then we have all the other communities, low-lying areas. Low-lying bridge has been closed off to vehicular traffic, Iguana Creek Bridge closed off. We have closed off Calla Creek because it is unsafe, the hammock bridge, so we know that for that limited movements and restrictions. So as we said earlier, we need to re-strategise, reposition our assets, our resources and personnel."

Between Sunday night and Monday morning or less than twelve hours, up to twenty families had to be evacuated from their homes - some were taken to shelters, while others stayed with relatives.

Javier Habet, Cayo District Coordinator, NEMO

"We have evacuated some people from the Calla Creek area; that was a major flood and we moved them to our shelters in Succotz. Also we have evacuated a few families from Benque Viejo in the flood prone area, the area that we call the free zone area and they have moved to the shelter in Mopan High School."

The water rose as far as Bismillah Store and past the football field near the Macal River Park.

Earl Trapp, Mayor, San Ignacio/Santa Elena

"For those that are acquainted with San Ignacio, the water level came all the way to Bismillah Store by the pedestrian ramp. It's basically around the perimeter of the welcome center at the back. So it came all the way there, filled up the parking area for the welcome center. All that was inundated. So it's from there coming all the way along the backside of the Venus Hotel and the other establishments along that path up to Bismillah Store."

Mayor Earl Trapp says that the issue is compounded by the improper disposal of garbage by residents.

Earl Trapp

"Many people are not disposing of their garbage properly. They leave it rolling around and whenever we have torrential rains and the water comes down, it flushes everything into the drain and then it clogs up the drain and then it causes water to back up. So people will have to do their part to begin to dispose of their garbage properly. But yes, it is affecting many."

Fortunately, the water is now receding, but Mayor Trapp says this will take some time.

Earl Trapp

"We had a lot of debris that came down so the guys were out cleaning those. We have the crews out in trying to deal with the areas that were affected in terms of where it was flooding, what caused the flooding in terms of debris. They are clearing up the culvert heads. At this moment, they are washing down the welcome center using our truck and the fire engine is out there supporting us as well. And the different establishments are being restored in terms of cleaning and bringing back the equipment to their business to restart the new business day."


Vendors Relocate to Safety as Water Rises in the Twin Towns

Many vendors and business owners had to pack up their appliances and products and relocate to higher ground in an effort to minimize the damages associated with the flood. In this report from News Five's Duane Moody, within a short period of doing interviews in downtown San Ignacio with business owners, the flood water entered into their establishments. Here's that report.

Duane Moody, Reporting

These were the images captured back in early November 2020 when the remnants of Hurricane Eta dumped water on western Belize. Flood waters rose by almost ten feet to submerge the Cayo Welcome Center in downtown San Ignacio.� From above, only the rooftops could have been seen.� There were huge losses recorded by the private sector in the wake of the floods and so this time around, businesses owners in that vicinity, including market vendors, took no chances. They were quick to pack up their stuff and seek higher ground.

Sylvan Rodas, Bella's Delight

"Right now we are just trying to clear out the shops. I think everybody down here at the market side have been trying to clear out the shops. We are just trying to take out all of our stuff because as you can see the water is closely rising. If we wait until another two hours or hour, our shops may be covered like what happened two years ago. We could already see it by our doorstep so we have to take out everything. Everything right now from here and my uncle's shop, the tour guide place."

Duane Moody

"Could you speak to me about the loss you guys experienced last time this happened?"

Sylvan Rodas

"Inside we had to paint everything over. We lost the AC. We weren't able to get everything out in time. We only managed to get out the showcase, we managed to get out the smaller things, but we weren't able to get out the bigger things. So we had to purchase new AC, new fridge cause once it gets soak with water, we can’t do anything."

To give an idea of how quickly the water rose, when we commenced the interview with Sylvan Rodas, there was little to no water on the street. Five minutes later, the street was completely inundated. While some market vendors secured their booths and called it a day, some relocated to the Falcon Field across from the town hall. Mayor Earl Trapp says that it is a temporary space for the vendors.

Earl Trapp, Mayor, San Ignacio/Santa Elena

"We have already advised the market vendors to relocate and you saw them relocated to the Falcon Field because we saw the river rapidly rising this morning. And of course with the intense rain and you know the storm is coming from the south, so we are still anticipating that we will get a lot of water from that side. And then it is raining in Guatemala; Guatemala has a big impact on that as well, so I am sure we are expecting the waters from Guatemala to recede in this area."

While the flood water has since receded from inside the shops and the market, business owners are trying to clean up and return to normal business. Even ahead of today, however, Rodas expresses concerns about recovering.

Sylvan Rodas

"It's costly and there is nothing set in place for businesses after this. The government will just tell us, oh well you guys have to get back up on your feet, but there is no help for the businesses out here. No one will come and say, you know what, here's five thousand dollars just for your damages. No one will help us. We just have to do it on our own."

Earl Trapp

"It's minimal that the council can do at this time. If there is any loss in terms of goods, then I believe that NEMO will have to step in and see what are their losses and see how they can assist. But that will be more something for NEMO to assess and see what budget they have and how they can assist."


Flood Waters Making its Way Down the Belize River

Flood waters from Mopan and Macal Rivers in the west will find their way down to the Belize District. And so, communities along the Belize River should be preparing for that eventuality. Over the weekend, water levels in Roaring Creek had already been rising. Again, it is not as devastating as 2020, but residents are being advised to stay vigilant.� Interim Regional Coordinator Javier Castellanos for NEMO Central explains.

Javier Castellanos, Interim Regional Coordinator, NEMO Central

"It is just beginning. The dams have spilled which is normal, so all of them have spilled - that is normal so no need to alert about the dams. So we have additional water coming down from the dams and then we have the waters coming down from the hills. And then what will happen, we will see that splurge of water coming across the low-lying areas of San Ignacio and Santa Elena and then as it gets further east when the Macal and the Mopan merge and become the Belize River, so eventually the communities along the river. So it is just starting and yes we need to be alert. We are monitoring it very closely and all information updates the public will be informed."


Significant Flooding Expected in River Valley Area

Residents living along the Belize River in the Belize District are being advised to seek higher grounds as flood waters from Cayo District are rapidly moving east. According to Lieutenant Colonel Shelton Defour, the Belize River Valley Area can expect a significant flooding event. Here is what he told reporters this evening via zoom, during a NEMO press conference.

Lt. Col. Shelton Defour, National Coordinator, NEMO

"We are bracing for potentially a significant flood event in the Belize River Valley Area. The flood water is cresting in the Belize River in the Cayo District. It is moving downhill at a rapid pace and so with the inundation where the ground is already saturated in those areas due to pooling and accumulation of water, it means now that you have this second wave of flood waters that will reach into places like Crooked Tree. They are already experiencing flooding. A family is being affected and so far they have decided not to move as yet. We have advised them to move and we will see other communities like Lemonal which will be impacted and all the string of communities. So, we are warning people to take heed. Listen to the advisory. Another advisory will be coming out this evening giving some specifics as to what people ought to be doing."

High Tides and Rough Sea Conditions Batter Monkey River

Tonight, Monkey River Village in southern Belize is only accessible by sea. Flood waters have completely cut off the village by land. And, while that is the situation those residents are faced with today, Monday brought its own set of challenges.� High tides and rough sea conditions dealt a severe blow to residents living along the coast, sending at least one house crashing into the sea. News Five's Paul Lopez reports.

Paul Lopez, Reporting

Today, it was impossible to get to Monkey River Village by vehicle. The river that runs adjacent to the road was overflowing. Flood waters had completely taken over this passageway which is used by villagers from the coastal community to get to work and school. Our attempt at reaching Monkey River by vehicle proved futile. We eventually had to turn back. And, on Monday, high tides, coupled with rains and winds from Tropical Storm Julia's outer bands, had residents living along the coast dashing to secure their homes from falling into the sea.

On the Phone: Daniel Castellanos, Resident, Monkey River Village

"At the sea front, there was I think they didn't feel too happy because the sea was lashing their house and the tide come up very high. And, that is only the high tides from the sea, now we the wait on the one coming down from the river.� So I figure we will have another high tide whenever, because the rivers suppose to full right now right."

With all their efforts, residents were unable to stop this wooden structure from falling into the sea. The coastal land under the house had significantly eroded overtime. And, what remained was no match for Monday's high tide and rough sea conditions.

On the Phone: Daniel Castellanos

"It's the erosion cause that. Every day the erosion is coming in more to the community, because nothing to stop the sea from hitting the beach.� It's um, I don't know if unu mih know Ms. Eleanor Stalin, that dah mih her house."

The house was considered an icon landmark by those in the Village. One social media user noted that the its large balcony facing the sea allowed residents to watch the fishers' boats head out to the fishing grounds and come back home after a long day.� With no entrance and exit by land to and from the community currently, residents are travelling solely boat. But, this mode of transportation is expensive due to the high cost of fuel.

On the Phone: Daniel Castellanos

"Wih road, ih nuh upgrade none at all. The children that goes to high school I don't know how they will reach now because the lee bus that takes them to high school can't move.� Every day the children that goes to high school. You have about twelve thirteen kids that go to high school."

Paul Lopez

"And today they are at home?"

On the Phone: Daniel Castellanos

"No, I think they went. Someone took them through sea, but that is a big expense for parents to take their children to school to Mango Creek, because fuel expensive."

Castellanos, like many of the villagers living along the coastal community, is not pleading for assistance in mitigating this growing problem of coastal erosion.

On the Phone: Daniel Castellanos

"All we hope and wish is that they bring some rocks and boulders and throw along the coastline from the bar mouth to where the cemetery is."

Paul Lopez

"Some people are suggesting that it is time for residents to evacuate the community, all together leave the community."

On the Phone: Daniel Castellanos

"It would be nice, but the problem we have is that we can't get any land at the lets say in Mango Creek, the government is not facilitating us with a piece of land and so."

Paul Lopez

"So if you got land you would move?"

On the Phone: Daniel Castellanos

"Definitely, because every year this is becoming worst and worst."

Channel 5


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Spanish Lookout Belize Flood | Aftermath of Hurricane Julia
On October 9-11 Hurricane Julia passed across North America just south of Belize. We got some of the rain as a result and a large amount of flooding occurred. In Spanish Lookout, farmers were harvesting wet corn as fast as possible to try to save as much as possible before the flooding took everything along. As you see in the video, there's still lots of corn that was left over and drowned in the flood waters.

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Flood Bulletin No. 5 for October 12, 2022

The National Hydrological Service hereby updates the public on river conditions in the country and issues the following:

Flood Alert

REGION 9
On the BELIZE RIVER, LEVELS ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE AS FLOOD WATERS MOVES DOWNSTREAM TO THE COAST.
On the CROOKED TREE LAGOON, LEVELS ARE EXPECTED IN EXCEED THE CAUSEWAY.
On the MOPAN RIVER at Benque Viejo Town, FLOOD LEVELS ARE EXPECTED TO RECEDE
On the MACAL RIVER at all BECOL facilities, DECREASING RESERVOIR LEVELS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE; and at San Ignacio, FLOOD LEVELS WILL CONTINUE TO RECEDE BUT WILL REMAIN ABOVE THE LOW-LEVEL BRIDGE.

REGION 11
On the MONKEY RIVER, FLOOD LEVELS ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TO RECEDE.
On the SIBUN RIVER at FREETOWN SIBUN, FLOOD LEVELS ARE EXPECTED TO CONTINUE TO INCREASE SLOWLY.

Flood Watch
REGION 9
On the BELIZE RIVER, at Double Run, LEVELS ARE EXPECTED TO INCREASE.

REGION 11
FLOOD STAGE levels continues on the SITTEE RIVER at Kendal, the MOHO RIVER at Blue Creek South and Jordan, and the on TEMASH RIVER at Crique Sarco.

***Citizens in these areas are advised to exercise extreme caution**

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Flood Flyover

Belize is still recovering from the after - effects of a weekend of near record setting rain - coming from Hurricane Julia's outer bands. NEMO's latest update - which came out a whole 24 hours ago - says "Flooding has affected 30 communities in central and southern Belize and approximately 3,000 families have been directly or indirectly impacted, with dozens of homes, vehicles, equipment, farms and crops damaged." They add that four rescue operations saved 104 persons were in shelters while five bridges were closed and slightly damaged, and 2 ferries (Xunantunich and Baking Pot) were closed, while 11 rivers and 4 creeks reached flood stage.

Today, the Minister of NEMO led a team on an overflight of the West to see the damage done and estimate the damage that's still coming down river. Here's a report:



The most recent flood bulletin - issued 5 hours ago - says that on the Belize River, levels are expected to increase as flood waters moves downstream. On the Crooked Tree Lagoon, levels are expected in exceed the causeway.

While on the Mopan River at Benque Viejo Town, flood levels are expected to recede. And On The Macal River at all becol facilities, decreasing reservoir levels expected to continue; and at San Ignacio, flood levels will continue to recede.

Same For The Monkey River, where flood levels are expected to continue to recede. While on the Sibun River At Freetown Sibun, Flood Levels are expected to continue to increase slowly.

Channel 7

=================

"A Lot of Devastation" - NEMO Flies Over Affected Areas

Today, the Minister of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Management joined a team from the National Emergency Management Organization on a flyover to observe the areas that are currently affected by severe flooding. The team included personnel from the Hydrology Unit, the Engineering Department and the ministries of Infrastructure Development and House and Agriculture. The focus was the Cayo District and, as it currently stands, the Mopan and Macal Rivers are still overflowing and floodwaters are flowing down to the Belize District. Later in the newscast we will share with you the preparations being made in anticipation of that eventually. But first, we hear from Minister Orlando Habet who says that an aerial assessment indicates that there is a lot of devastation.

Orlando Habet, Minister of Climate Change & Disaster Risk Management


"We flew over the area where Santander had planted sugar cane. The sugar cane was affected. Waters have spread out to as much as they would have gone on the flat areas and what the hydrology department is telling us is that when it bursts over its seams and spreads out, then it starts rising and that's when you start to see a lot of the water coming up. Certainly a lot of devastation all over the productive sector for agriculture, especially in the Spanish Lookout area. We saw fields of corn that were under water; some that water had passed and the corn is lying down. I think also some beans. We went over an area where you could have seen cattle that were all together because water had formed sort of an island and the cattle moved up to the highest area. You could have seen certainly that some animals had died because you could have seen the crows now perching and trying to look for the remains. What was also interesting is how the river burst open and formed new avenues where to go. And so what we were told from the hydrology unit and the engineering department is that what happens it depends on where most of the water falls and so each flooding event is different from the other. And so whilst we might not have had rise in the river as much as it happened during Eta and Iota, this one has some devastation that also did not occur with that flooding event because of where the water fell. And apparently a lot of the water fell in the productive sector area, apart from what was coming up river in the Macal and Mopan area. So when we went also through the Macal part of the river, we saw some of the damages. Of course, what has now subsiding in San Ignacio and the area of Santa Elena, the bridges are still under water. In the Santa Familia area, the hammock bridge is still under water and so is the one in Calla Creek. And also what we could have seen was some of the damages that occurred with some of the houses that are in the area."

Channel 5

=================

ADVISORY NO. 5

FLOODING IN CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN BELIZE
At 8:30 p.m. Wednesday 12th October 2022

NEMO conducted a damage assessment flyover today in the Cayo District. Belize River is reaching top-gallon flood levels. More flood waters were seen in the upper reaches of the Belize River flowing downstream at a faster rate than normal, creating ox-bows in some areas.

The expected flood impact compared to previous events indicates that the impact possibly will not be as severe as the Eta and Iota floods in 2020, which occurred 13 days apart due to greater amounts of rainfall. The water levels are not expected to be the same but are expected to significantly affect communities along the Sibun and Belize rivers and quite possibly include the outer limits of Belize City. Residents living along the Sibun and Belize rivers and in Belize City are advised to take the necessary precautions as required. Crooked Tree lagoon is expected to rise significantly tonight or tomorrow as flood waters continue to flow into the lagoon.

Flooding continues in the Cayo District. Eight shelters remain open with 136 shelterees. The Macal and Mopan rivers are receding. The Bullet Tree-Santa Familia road is open. The Coastal and Bullet Tree-Calla Creek roads remain closed. Assessments and relief operations continue in the Cayo District.

If you live near a river, creek or in a low-lying area, take the necessary actions to save your life. Avoid walking, playing and driving through flood waters. If your home is likely to flood, before leaving secure your home, unplug appliances, turn off electricity, gas and main water valve, and secure your documents and pets. Check on the elderly and people with disability. If you need to seek shelter move early and do not wait until it's too late.

Farmers in the Belize River Valley and Crooked Tree areas are advised to move livestock and crops to a safe place. Move early!

Wash hands thoroughly before touching and handling food and water. In flooded areas, boil or purify water before drinking it. As much as possible use bottled water for drinking and to prepare and cook food. Water can be treated with bleach (Clorox) by adding 1 tablespoon of bleach to five gallons of water. Mix the bleach and water completely and leave to stand for 30 minutes before using. Water purification tablets can also be used. Follow the directions on the package. Store 1 gallon of water per day for each person in your home for drinking and cooking. The public is advised to stay away from downed power lines.

The media, all security personnel, and public officers are commended for their combined efforts in keeping the public informed and safe.

NEMO's emergency hotline is 936. Stay alert, be prepared.

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ADVISORY NO. 6

FLOODING IN CENTRAL BELIZE
As of 6:00 PM Thursday, 13th October 2022

In the west, as the Mopan River is receding where it passes Benque Viejo, Succotz, Calla Creek, Bullet Tree Falls, and Paslow Falls, communities along the Sibun and Belize rivers are experiencing flood conditions. The floodwaters are also receding as it passes through Blackman Eddy, Roaring River, La Rivera area, and More Tomorrow but are rising in the Belize River Valley pushing more floodwaters into the Belize District. It is possible that this will continue for the next three to four days and possibly longer. Residents in these areas are advised to prepare for a possible major flood event.

Bridges and ferries that are closed are Gracie Rock Hammock Bridge, Iguana Creek Bridge, San Ignacio Wooden Bridge, the Xunantunich and the Baking Pot ferries. The Santa Familia/Branch Mouth and Calla Creek roads are now accessible after the new culverts were installed and the road repaired. The ATM Cave bridge was washed away. The Hopkins/Sittee River bypass road is impassable. Access to Monkey River Town by road is by high vehicles only.

One hundred and eleven (111) persons are now in five (5) shelters in the Cayo District. Shelters remain opened in Calla Creek, El Progresso 7 miles and Belmopan. The Relief and Supplies Committee distributed water to residents of La Rivera and provided humanitarian assistance to families that were in urgent need in the Calla Creek and 7 miles communities. The water truck distributed drinking water to residents of Bullet Tree today.

The Ministry of Health & Wellness is conducting water quality tests throughout the flood zones. Reports indicate that some children and adults are coming down with fever in Calla Creek, Cayo. Doctors are assessing to verify the cause. An increase in mosquitoes and vector-borne threats is anticipated.

NEMO continues to advise the public of the following: If you live near to a river, creek or low-lying area, take the necessary actions to save your life. Avoid walking, playing and driving through floodwaters. If your home is likely to flood, before leaving, secure your home, unplug appliances, turn off electricity, gas and main water valve, secure your documents and your pet. Check on the elderly and people with disabilities. If you need to seek shelter, move early; do not wait until it is too late. Farmers in the Belize River Valley and Crooked Tree areas should move livestock and crops to a safe place. Residents are advised to secure and move their belongings, livestock and pets to higher grounds. Move early!

The public is advised to wash hands thoroughly before touching food and handling water. In flooded areas, boil or purify water before drinking it. As much as possible, use bottled water for drinking and preparing and cooking food or treat with bleach (Clorox); add one (1) tablespoon of bleach to five (5) gallons of water. Mix the bleach and water completely and leave to stand for 30 minutes before using or treat with water purification tablets according to directions on the package. Store one (1) gallon per day for each person in your home for drinking and cooking.

The public is advised to stay away from downed power lines.

NEMO's emergency hotline is 936. Continue to take necessary actions to save life and protect property!

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