Ambergris Caye-Still Standing Strong

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 10, No. 37            October 9, 2000

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"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 forgotten.

    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.

    Many people 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.
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