4,000 homes damaged, 11,000 thousand homeless

Posted By: Marty

4,000 homes damaged, 11,000 thousand homeless - 10/12/01 03:28 PM

4,000 homes damaged, 11,000 thousand homeless
Thursday, October 11, 2001

Relief efforts in the Stann Creek and Toledo districts continued to
expand today as floodwaters recede on the Southern Highway and large
amounts of supplies mobilised for distribution to stricken areas.
Updated damage assessments by NEMO indicate that over four thousand
houses were destroyed or significantly damaged with just under eleven
thousand people left homeless. In addition to the twenty people who
perished aboard the Wave Dancer, NEMO reports that two Canadians remain
missing from Monkey River, while six Belizeans remain unaccounted for
after their house was washed into the Trio River. Over the three day
weekend Prime Minister Said Musa and Ministers Fonseca and Bradley will
host the Ambassadors of the U.S.A., Mexico, Great Britain and Taiwan on
a tour of the disaster area.

And what those gentlemen will see will not be pretty. News 5 viewers are
already familiar with the destruction on the Placencia Peninsula and
tonight we are fortunate to bring you some clips of the situation
further inland. Roxanna Cal of Indian Creek Village used her home video
camera to document the situation in Indian Creek and surrounding
villages along the Southern Highway. What follows is a glimpse--through
her eyes--of life after Hurricane Iris.

Roxanna Cal
"Everybody here is homeless and they're trying to find help."

Citizen #1
"This is the food distribution corner. We receive all contributions here
and we're also sharing out food here. The way we are distributing the
food is that we're giving two pounds of rice, two pounds of flour to
every family. The ones that are staying here...the women get together
and they're cooking all the food together, so we would give them in
bulk. The problem here is reaching out to those families who are not
here and have no access to come out from their corner. We have some
families who are very isolated and we're trying to reach out to those
families and yes, it is working for right now. the entire community of
Big Falls and Hicatee and the leaders especially are working together
and doing a very, very good job so far."

Citizen #2
"This is the way of life we have here for right now. This is our stove,
we have no other way to get our food cook, except this way. This is the
kitchen, this is the comal and this is the pot."

Roxanna Cal
"And that's the only source that the entire village is using for

Citizen #2
"Yes, for today and this period of time."

Citizen #3
"This rice mill pump in Big Falls, now is in need of repairing. That
will affect in the future the conditions of crops. This is the heart of
Toledo where they concentrate all the rice."

Citizen #4
"This is the community, Hicatee that we were just talking about a while
ago. This is the damage that we see from the hurricane. The damage to
our corn mill that we just started. This is the fifteenth corn mill
project that was provided by the Government and this is where we need a
lot of assistance, in the building and also the damage from the machine
and the mill itself."

Roxanna Cal
"This is the people from Indian Creek Village. They are trying to make
plans. This is the community centre partially destroyed by the
hurricane. As you can see, everybody is in need right now. everybody
needs help, everybody needs support. They don't have no homes, but they
have hopes to build and continue. That's an iguana trying to find a new
home. Everybody is suffering from this disaster."

Please donate to the effort to get relief to these folks:
Posted By: Marty

Re: 4,000 homes damaged, 11,000 thousand homeless - 10/12/01 08:02 PM

While everybody suffered and we see the suffering in the towns, like Placentia, Mango Creek, Independence and such. These are the first to get aid and probably will indeed get the majority of assistance, being easier to reach and since they are congregated in large populations and are frequently visited.

My concern is with the isolated farms, the villages of the Maya and subsistance people. Especially since so many of them have lost not only their fruit trees, but also their corn crop. It is almost time to plant beans in crop rotation.

I get overwhelmed when I start thinking of all that they have to do right now. Not only do they have to rebuild all their houses. Clean up the old ones and the mess. But when you consider hundreds of families, this is going to take months, not weeks, even as they use communal group labor. It is not like building a new house for one family, or young couple with village group help. Everybody is in the same boat now and it takes lots of time to get through ALL that rebuilding. Couple that, with the necessity of providing food, they have to go out to the milpa and scavenge and see if they can save as much corn as they can. That is their mainstay, food! Fruit trees will recover. It might take 3 years or more, but they will resprout. The cold winter northers and rain are coming in December and January too. If you have ever stayed in a village Mayan house in those months, you just have to know how miserable it can be with that cold wind, mosquitos, rain coming through the walls and thatch. Now, WOW! It is going to be a lousy few months for them all.

Somehow, Belize has to see that the remote rural farmer and communities are assisted with food. Corn in particular, but dry peppers and beans as well. They may need some pigs replaced and chickens? When it comes to bananas and plantains, we are talking about one year from the time they get to work on replacing them, but it is going to be March before anybody much has free time in the rural Toledo South to start worrying about those plants. They have milpa to clean, crops to scavenge and hundreds of houses to build from bush materials. That takes months. The cacao crop, some of it should be on the ground. But the rest will regrow in a year. That's if the trees are not flattened. That buzz saw of a hurricane was roughly 30 miles wide, cutting a swath through the farms and jungle. Anybody in that swath of destruction is going to need help. Serious help! More help than given to Placentia and Independence. Those big communities will get help because they are easy of access, but the rural remote places need attention worse, I would think!
In this time of need, let us not neglect, or ignore the rural remote people that simply live off the land with a machete. It is so easy to do, from Belmopan or Belize City. Out of sight is out of mind. And the big places like Placentia and Independence are too easy to see and attend too. As Belizeans, this time around, lets look after our less fortunate cash poor cousins in the bush communities. Let's put extra emphasis on their needs over that of the more sophisticated communities with wood and cement houses and better organization. Everybody needs help, but those invisible ones need it more, that were in that fierce wind storm swath of destruction. Plastic sheeting was always an appreciated commodity I remember from a long time ago, to keep out the mud and rain. They get a lot of rain down there.

Ray Auxillou
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