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Damage And Change Inflicted On Ambergris Caye And Surrounding Areas By Hurricane Mitch - by Dr. Sal Mazzullo, Dr. Collette Burke, Chellie S. Teal, MS, Krysti Weed, BS

Department of Geology, Wichita State University, Wichita, Kansas
San Pedro Town and Ambergris Caye were spared the devastation suffered by its neighbors because of the southerly track that Mitch took and the protection afforded by the barrier reef. But we lost all the docks, and took on a lot of water, especially in the Boca Del Rio area.

As the photos on this page show, we had a rough week. But its all over now, most of the damage you see here has been cleaned up, the docks are rebuilt, and the sand has been pushed and pulled back to where we want it! So come on and visit us, and wonder at the beauty that the sea has given us.

Visible developments in this story are taking place every few days. Most of the rubble is picked up and hauled away now: the folks in low areas need the fill! Presently on the island, these is some visible damage remaining, but mainly as a sight to see. Remaining disruption is almost if not entirely nonexistent. In fact, the turn-on of the Mexican power grid has essentially eliminated blackouts, so there's progress in spite of Mitch.

These rubble and bad beach erosion shots from the village convey a condition that no longer exists.

Q & A - Setting the record straight - "What About Mitch?"For all the excitement that surrounded Mitch, in Belize it was more or less a non-event as natural phenomenas go. Belize has always been the lucky spot - perhaps the Mayan gods still protect this little place of rare beauty and special people.

Q - The reef ?
A - perfectly fine - come dive!
Q- facilities?
A - perfectly fine - come on vacation
Q - what happened?
A - not much ..... but we'll tell you tall tales over a cold beer.

Hurricanes and other storms are natural events that serve to continually modify coastal areas. Fortunately, Hurricane Mitch missed Ambergris Caye, and so, damage and changes were minimal. The following report describes the damage and changes in a geologic context for interested readers. The scenic attractions of the area on and around Ambergris Caye, however, are intact and clean-up was rapid after the storm as life quickly returned to normal in San Pedro Town. The reef is still beautiful, and diving, fishing, birding are excellent; and facilities are working 100%. Belize still remains a foremost vacation and tourist destination in the Caribbean!

Thanks to Chris Berlin for the video that bore the images on this page. The rest of the photos in this information came from the Wichita State Geology team that wrote the report.

The senior author (Mazzullo) has been coming to Belize for 20 years and, together with the other authors of this page (Burke, Teal, and Weed) and other colleagues from Wichita State University, has been studying various aspects of the natural history and geology of the caye. Dr. Mazzullo and other faculty at Wichita State University, notably Drs. Burke, Bill Bischoff and John Gries, have brought hundreds of students to the caye over the years to do the same. We traveled to San Pedro at the end of November 1998, about a month after the hurricane, to assess and document the damage and geological changes wrought by Mitch. Click on page one to begin reading.

The authors would like to thank Dr. Gerald Loper, Vice President for Research, and Dr. David Glenn-Lewin, Dean of the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, for their financial support of our trip to Belize in November - December.

For comments, here is the e-mail address of the senior author: mazzullo@twsuvm.uc.twsu.edu

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