Liberty Hall and surrounding area after Hurricane Greta in 1978.
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Tuesday April 18, 2017

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Liberty Hall and surrounding area after Hurricane Greta in 1978.

I use to live in the neighborhood and remember paying fifteen cents to dance there, Saturday night was the night and the place to be, I had lots of fun ...

Michelle Rivana Buckley: On September 23, 1978 Belize felt the impact of Hurricane Greta. It was a storm like no other in my life time. I could recall being at home on Johnson Street when the storm hit. Many families in the southern district were at a loss and so were the disruption to Belize City. The southern district got the worst of it. At that time, my mother was in the US she had gone to do her yearly trip. My dad was left to take care of us kids. It was strange being at home without my mother and very scary. My eldest brother lived downstairs and when the hurricane started coming in it was a turning point. My brother had to come upstairs because our yard started to flood. He lived on the ground floor. Daddy did not think it would affect us so he decided to have us stay in our home on the second floor of his our house. Usually we would take refuge on higher grounds in Belmopan but this time we didnít. We were all listening to the radio and my dad and brothers taking turns tracking the hurricane. As it brewed the water kept rising. Inside our house was like a zoo. Our roosters, cats, and dog started making a lot of noise as they shared the space with us. Looking back they must have sensed danger you know. My dad had his son wade in water to drag our dorey (canoe) and tied it up to our veranda. He had brought home his little 25 horsepower motor boat engine just for safety. As the water rose higher, winds howling he decided that we had to leave because the house was shaking terribly. I felt the fear wrapped inside of me when I looked thru our window. It seemed like heaven had open up and rain fell so loudly our roof was chattering from the wind. The water was rolling around as if boiling. My dad decided that he would take us to safety at the Elections and Boundaries office on Cemetary Road at the corner opposite a bar. I cannot remember the name of the bar. The government building was designated a safe haven and this was where his other son and his family was at.

The weather was so scary things blowing around us. My brother attached the motor to the dorey and took us kids three at a a time to the building. Boy that dorey was rocking as it sped up. It was a journey because he was fearful of hitting objects in the water and damaging the motor. So we had to be on the look out for large floating objects lantern in hand. Swinging from side to side due to the heavy winds. He made three trips with great difficulty trying to maneuver the dorey to get it close as possible to the stairs. I remember screaming in the journey for fear of capsizing. He had to go get our dad as my dad waited until his children were safe. Then as I was told the dorey capsized near the park as he was turning the corner onto Cemetery Road. There were only three of them and in the boat. My dad said that the motor fell off and his younger son had to hold onto the tree that was near Gills Restaurant. With all his strength he managed to turn the dorey in the upright position and like God send the paddle floated by. He then paddle to his son and had him hold on to the rope that was attached to the bow. all the while they were at the mercy of the wind and heavy rain. Out of fear he was able to get his son into the dorey. He then paddle arduously to pick up his other son who was holding onto the tree branch that hang low. It took them a while to reach safety that night. They were so weak and tired upon arrival. One of the men heard them yelling for help as they neared the building. I remember like it was yesterday the men that were in the building yelling to find a rope. It was difficult for them to continue as exhaustion was kicking in. My second eldest brother tied a rope around him and with the help of the others he swam towards my dad and his brothers. He then tied the rope to the bow rope of the dorey and he held on for dear life and the other men started to reel them in by tying the other end of the rope to the rail. I was crying because it was so scary listening to the commotion outside. Shouts everywhere. Finally they were safe. That night no one slept! We stayed up eating crackers with chicken sausage. That night my world seemed scarier than ever. My dad had decided to leave our dogs in our home and he was so upset about it. His concerns were about the animals. We stayed in place for a couple of days then returned home. Castilloís warehouse just off of Vernon Street had severe damage. There can goods such as Milo was floating around the area. My mom brother brought a few cans home when he and my dad went to check on our home. Daddy brought our dog back with him and I was so happy to see that potlucker of a dog. Greta held her grounds and my family held theirs I cannot even imagine what 1931 Hurricane was like. I never forgot Greta, she reaked havoc thru the Caribbean. Like all things little old Belize survived with all her strength and beauty. It is the price we pay for our little gem of a country. We as a nation stand firm together during the challenges we face.

Debbie Samuels-Francis: I was 10-11 years old and still have a very vivid memory of hurricane Greta. We sheltered at BTC and a portion of the roof blew off. British soldiers assisted us to the lower level where we waited out the rest of the storm. We had to sit on the lab tables because there was flooding and it was dark. It was very scary as a child but as an adult I realized how perilous the situation was and always baffled by people who tries to brave the elements and shelter in place.

Karen Reid-bull: Thanks for sharing Mich. I experienced two hurricanes, the first was Fifi 1974, we took shelter at Grace Primary for that one, a night of hard winds and heavy rains. I couldnít wait for it to be over with to be back in our home, I never liked being in a crowd when I was little. Greta 1978 we sheltered at our cousins who lived right in front of Grace Primary. It was a long scary night, howling winds hard rains, the elders praying and keeping vigil. I was worried and scared. Next morning we saw that the water was high, when it subsided and we went down the street to our home, the floor was all mud and silt. We spent days cleaning up. Thank goodness we had seek shelter, we also lived on the ground floor. I guess my grandma having experience of previous devastating hurricanes knew not to take any chances.

Photograph courtesy Noel Escalante

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