"The report of my death was
an exaggeration" was the cable sent by Mark Twain to a news agency in the U.S.
after it ran a story on his demise. This could also be the sentiment of
Ambergris Caye after hearing reports by a certain international news agency on
the damage inflicted to our island by Hurricane Keith. A highly respected news
source had done just about everything except pronounce the island dead without
even checking to see if there was still a pulse.
The catastrophe that has recently befallen La Isla
Bonita was making news around the globe. And once again, as with Hurricane
Mitch, false information on what was happening to the island circulated the
world over like the clouds that were whirling above us. One telephone tower
toppling over, cutting off communications to the outside world, seemed to mean
only one thing-Ambergris Caye and its people existed no more. Well, we are here
and we would like to set the record straight.
We appreciate and count on international news agencies to keep us
informed of what is going on outside of our little part of the world. We cannot
fathom, however, how such a normally reliable source can report on a story of
such magnitude without checking out the authenticity of their information before
airing it. As a newspaper with limited resources, we check and double check
facts before we commit them to print. An international news agency with
unlimited resources should do the same before broadcasting a story that will
affect so many people in so many ways. Reporting rumors and unconfirmed
information is tabloid reporting and is not expected from professional
journalists. This type of reporting adds insult to injury and lands a crippling
blow to our destination that will last longer than the cosmetic damage done to
us by Keith. As an island that depends on tourism for its livelihood, false
reports like the ones aired can devastate the economy of the island and country.
It further hinders residents' efforts to rebuild and restore some type of
continuity and normalcy back in their lives. The burden our community must now
bear because of someone else's careless actions are many.
Were we hit by a hurricane? Oh yes we were and it was
a biggie. It went up and down our coast like a yo-yo. Families lost their homes
and possessions, many roofs were blown off and buildings damaged. We also had
flooding due to storm surge and debris scattered everywhere. But our community
spirit is strong and through our strength and support of each other we will
bounce back and rebuild. Sadly, the only damage we cannot undo is the tragic
loss of several of our comrades who will be deeply missed but not
Clean up and rebuilding of the
island is progressing at a rapid pace. Ambergris Caye is receiving much needed
supplies, assistance and aid from many countries including our fellow
countrymen; for that, we are extremely grateful. Electricity, telephone and
water service are already established to many areas with other areas soon to be
completed. Once utilities are restored many resorts, hotels, restaurants, dive
and gift shops which received minimal damage, will be able to receive tourists
immediately. Most others are rebuilding and will be in full swing by the time
the official tourist season starts. Our island will be up and running and as
beautiful as ever very soon.
worldwide have offered their assistance in our efforts to get our feet back on
the ground and we thank you. The residents of Ambergris Caye would like to offer
you their assistance in helping you get your feet on the sand. When you are
planning your vacation this year come and visit La Isla Bonita. We would be
happy to assist you with a Piña Colada and a friendly smile.