Businesses in Recovery Mode in Cayo Following Natural Disaster - 11/10/20 12:25 PM
We also headed to San Ignacio which was hard hit and completely flooded when the torrential rains started last week. It was so bad, only the roof of the Welcome Centre, one of the landmarks in San Ignacio, could be seen on aerial footage. The waters are now flowing to the Belize River Valley and a massive clean-up is underway in San Ignacio to restore some normalcy to the town. Here is News Five’s Duane Moody with a report.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Further west in the twin towns of San Ignacio and Santa Elena, it was business as usual as – residents were out and about, with vehicular traffic finally able to pass through the centre of the town. Business owners were working to clean their establishments and reinstall their hardware in an effort to restart business as soon as possible.
Water levels rose so high that only the roofing to the Cayo Welcome Centre was exposed; the Norman Broaster Stadium was filled to capacity and most businesses were completely inundated. Some businesses were prepared and as the Macal River rose above the low-lying wooden bridge, Roger Gomez of Bella’s Delights began packing up and removing their items.
Roger Gomez, Bella’s Delights
“Couldn’t believe it! A few days before it hit, we were watching the weather bureau and we started to watch the river as it started to come up. And on Wednesday, we came and moved out everything; the only thing we left in there were mops and broom and fan that hang high – thinking that the water wouldn’t reach that high – and the AC. And two days after, when we saw on Facebook, we only saw the sign so the water was way up there. And I think during the day, it covered the sign so we done know what was left in there was damaged.”
“When do you think you will be ready to get back into business?”
“I think till about Thursday because we have the electrician coming in and check everything to make sure that everything is okay before we turn on any switch and check the AC as well. And then I think tomorrow we will start to bring in the showcase and the coolers.”
The proprietors of The New French Bakery were also cleaning up – thick sludge was being washed away; the furniture and other bakery machines were being tested to determine whether they are reusable or will be discarded. Kenneth Tzib says they live in Bullet Tree Falls Village, which was cut off from the twin towns when the Salvador Fernandez Bridge was under water. They are only just assessing the damages.
Kenneth Tzib, Owner, The New French Bakery
“We never expected this to come this far, but it happened. We cannot do anything about that. It’s a natural disaster and thank God we are still alive. Right now we are trying to clean up. The first thing we have to do is clean up, get ready, sanitize everything. We cannot give up; we need to start over and continue everything that we have to do.”
“What would you say is the estimated loss?”
“Well estimated loss, I would say around five thousand dollars.”
“…that includes equipment, stoves all of that?”
“Well I still have to check most of the things to see if they are working because I took out some of the things so not everything was left here.”
Since Saturday, Mayor Earl Trapp says that the council along with support from the fire trucks in that municipality were out removing debris, and power washing the streets in order to get the commercial centre of the town up and running. Even as that cleanup process continues, market vendors were already back to their original location trying to earn their keep.
Earl Trapp, Mayor, San Ignacio/Santa Elena
“We began the restoration process, the cleaning. I spoke to the chief of the fire service here, Mister Castaneda and he said that he would have brought his equipment in. as the water subsided, he and his men proceeded to wash and wash which made it much easier. We are trying to avoid the sludge from drying because then it creates a lot of dust. And the downtown area, mostly by welcome centre into the market area is properly cleaned. I know of some businesses that had some losses. If you check Reimer’s Feed Mill, they had some serious losses. Bismillah had some serious losses. Many businesses, maybe some were caught by surprise and some weren’t able to come because they were held back by the waters. So they are hoping that most of the equipment will be able to work still. But we continue the cleaning process and I believe by—it’s just Monday—by Friday we should be back to normal here in the downtown area by the market.”
One particular store experienced damages to most of its goods. Bismillah Store, including its hardware section was flooded out. Thankfully, like other businesses, it was insured. We caught up with insurance agent Gigi Godfrey, who was going about doing inspections.
Gigi Godfrey, Insurance Agent, RF&G
“I’m just looking out for my clients; just seeing what they need and the damages that they got due to the floods. So I am just doing my rounds and checking up on them.”
“And they are all covered for floods?”
“Well I am not sure about the other people, but the clients that I do have, I would want to guess so, yes.”
“The devastation that you are seeing so far?”
“It’s a lot. It’s a lot of damages caused and it will take a lot for them to recover.”