Hurricane Keith Reconstruction Report followup.
Oct. 5th., 2000, by Ray Auxillou/Trustee/ Belize Development Trust/Caye
4:00 a.m. EST
Photo's starting to come in. Things are a mess of course, but looks
like nothing insurmountable from past storm experience. Cleanup more
than anything and repairs.
Photo site: //AmbergrisCaye.com/pics.html
The GOB get the trees, electrical poles, cables and seaweed and debris
off the streets and beach, things will appear better. The GOB did send
in a 1000 loaves of bread to
Caye Caulker which went in an hour.
If BTL will restore land line telephone service and internet capacity,
things will really speed up. But the poles are down all over the
village. But we need internet connection to get things moving in high
gear. If we have a plane going down, might send a Ham Radio operator
totally fitted out to operate from the island for a few weeks. One is
already living there now, but we are not getting much help through
them. In fact unable to make contact at all. He is running off
batteries. His wife is going down from Austin taking a portable
generator this weekend, I believe. That might improve things. The
trouble with him is he is American. The USA have the most HAMS in the
world, but they have strict rules. The hurricane net and rules do not
allow personal messages, or anything like supply lists and things, just
general chit chat, with no specifics. We ignore that in Central and
South America, but this Ham has to obey his USA compatriot rules. Or
they will lift his license. The air waves for HAM radio frequencies are
full of old farts monitoring speech traffic, who got their radio licenses
back in Korean War days, who are retired now and there is always some old
amateur radio inspector old fart sitting in New York, or Utah, or
someplace bound to jump on him if he so much as mentions a shopping list
of emergency supplies. This being a disaster doesn't cut much ice with
an old fart, sitting in his radio shack comfortable in civilization. So
amateur radio is not really of much use. This protects the revenue
stream of the local telecommunications monopoly. We really need an
internet connection and e-mail out of the Caye. The local
telecommunications is a monopoly and apparently, they never spent ANY
money storing aside an emergency portable phone system for this sort of
common disaster. They should be glad I'm not Prime Minister, they would
be out on the ear, real fast because of the delays in this disaster
emergency and lack of portable capability for communications.
We need the donation of a plane flight, to the island from Opa Locka /
Miami area, to get some communications necesseties down and a few other
things. Light load, any volunteers with a plane?
For donators wishing to send money and have it distributed by someone
absolutely honest beyond reproach. Have Diane Kuylen of Caye Caulker
handle it. If you just want to go with the flow, send it c/o the Village
Council on Caye Caulker. Sorry, but there is no direct communication
with Caye Caulker at this time. I have not heard from Diane, or Tina yet.
If you want somebody to handle it from the USA, send it to Ray
Auxillou, 2471 NW 152 Terr., N. Dade, Fl. 33054, Trustee of the Belize
Development Trust of Caye Caulker. We sponsor the Volunteer Belize
Electronic Resource and Development Library on the internet. The
Development Issues Project and the Bulletin Board that Marty ( Board
member of the Belize Development Trust) is running for this Hurricane
Marty also has a fund out on the West Coast of the USA. Ask Marty for
details on that.
We have shipping available by plane and ocean freight out of Miami to
Belize, but have so far been trying to identify the most efficient ways
of dealing with the situation. The problem with regular shipping is we
have to go through the mainland intermediaries. Customs in Belize is a
bear, real delays for islanders and extra expensive because of the double
internal shipping and travel costs through Belize City! Then double ship
locally internally. Currently, we will be seeing about chartering a DC -
3 from Opa Locka, Florida direct to Caye Caulker and San Pedro if
necessary. But San Pedro seems to have plenty of foreign friends and
Caye Caulker few and far between. More low scale tourist destination!
Flights being available, my daughter Sharon Urscheler, Caye Caulker gal
with family on the island, is going down Friday from Miami. Maybe even
myself as soon as possible. But at the moment my limited talents are
best met from South Florida. Egging on the GOB is just one of the
Money seems to be the best thing. Lots of stores on the mainland of
Belize untouched. Probably fastest and cheapest to just buy on the
mainland and get things shipped out to the island. We are thinking of
food supplies, kerosene lamps, kerosene and that sort of simple things.
There are of course no tents for the homeless available in Belize for
sale. Mulling over how to buy and get them to Caye Caulker without going
through the mainland! Direct plane flight to Caye Caulker seems the best
bet. Diane Kuylen could control the distribution to get it done fairly.
Zinc and lumber, we can't help with much. Unless we could get the DC - 3
charter. Not sure how much for a charter, but will check today, but for
that we need CASH, more than we have here now. Can arrange to buy Home
Depot materials and roofing and such, tents and so on and this seems the
best way. But how to PAY for it is a problem.
Peter, you reading this, they need your boat shuttling between Belize
City and Caye Caulker for a month carrying supplies. Why not charge $300
bz per day charter flat rate? $150 USA for the uninitiated. It sounds
like a fair price for steady work.
Caye Caulker runs by boats mostly, while San Pedro is more airplane
orientated. Caye Caulker has an airstrip though of 3600 ft and open over
the sea at both ends. Clear approach. I'm informed the strip is clear
for plane traffic.
A lot of the boats got piled up in the back bay, where they were put
for shelter from the Hurricane and wouldn't you know it, they got hit on
that side the worst. Big pile up I hear. However, all is not lost.
Boats are fiberglass and wood. Fixable and probably made seaworthy over
next six weeks. The engines are big outboards, Yamaha mostly and these
will be a problem. Owners have to strip them down immediately this week
still, or they will be destroyed. Salt water corrodes the aluminum blocks
and pistons. If they can strip them and clean them and get them running
quickly, a good five dozen engines will be operational in a week or so.
Parts are available on the mainland. Boat repair should only take a few
weeks for those that are repairable. There are though, only two outboard
mechanics on the island and most people do not have the specialized small
tools. People are going to be busy with food and shelter problems, not
fixing outboards. So it looks like a big financial loss looming on the
outboard motors, which are the transportation life blood of the island.
Caye Caulker is a lobster village and tourist island. It seems to be
a rich place. People do live fairly well and modern. But like the USA,
all those boats and outboard motors are bought on TIME PAYMENTS, through
either co-operative loans, or outboard motor distributer credit. They
barely get an engine paid for and it is amortized and has to be replace
with another engine, new but on loan also. Outboard motors are built to
be replaced every 1800 operating hours to 2500 operating hours, depending
on brand. It is what the manufacturers call planned obsolescence. So
the fact that they got submerged in salt water is bad. Replacement money
is not going to be there and in fact, they are going to owe thousands of
dollars on the existing motors. So repairing is probably the only choice
95% of boat owners have.
Thats the news and background.
Big thing now is the infra-structure. If the GOB could alleviate
those problems and leave the Village Council and citizens to look after
their food, shelter and boat problems, things would accelerate much
faster in a recovery. Having the villagers clearing streets of poles,
trees, cables and debris yesterday and today is a waste of time and human
While $50 million is earmarked for a Mexican Hotel and Casino venture
by the GOB in the Corozal Free Trade Zone; from the standpoint of
pragmatic tourism impact, it does seem to me, more advantageous for the
GOB to get the two island resort towns up and running for Dec. 1st. I
would think that taking $5 million of that $50 million loan for the CFZ
hotel/casino project which is a three year project and spending it on
Caye Caulker and San Pedro would make the most economic sense in the
short immediate term for GOB revenues.
For photo of Caye Caulker before the hurricane, see: http://members.tripod.com/~speculation/HOMEPAGE.html