originated the "Our Community" column two years ago we have featured
many local individuals. For the next several weeks we will interview many people
of Ambergris Caye to see how their lives have been affected since Hurricane
Keith visited our island and how their lives are progressing in the
Tex Nuñez - Boca
del Rio area - When I heard of Hurricane Keith approaching, I
immediately started looking for a safe place for myself and my family because I
knew that my house was not appropriate. We moved to a room at the Spindrift
Hotel which we shared with countless people. The children in particular were
getting scared as the wind forces became stronger. The roof started to fly off
little by little and soon water started leaking inside. The glass door shook a
lot and we were afraid it would break and cause harm to us. Some of the men
secured the door while the women swept the water. All the zinc from my house was
lost and all the electrical stuff damaged. Water rose about four feet inside my
home, destroying everything. All the east side of the house came down and the
other side leaned to one side. Even when it rains today, it is like if it's
raining inside. But life must go on. I am back to work and am grateful to the
many generous people that have been good to me. I thank Mrs. Gladys from the
Spindrift Hotel for giving us shelter and to the Atlantic Bank staff and
management for their support.
Guerrero Sr. - Barrier Reef Drive - There were about thirty
persons at my house during the hurricane. We had enough food for everyone and
fortunately not much happened to the building. The only damage was to a large
tree that had to be cut down for safety purposes. Although we were some of the
fortunate few that were not severely hurt by the hurricane, it was still a
frightening experience. I clearly recall the hurricane of 1942 and Keith was
definitely much stronger than that one. Keith made more destruction partly
because when the hurricane of 1942 affected San Pedro the mangrove at the back
protected a lot of homes. Because of some of the mangrove being cut down, this
caused a lot of houses and properties to be damaged by Keith.
Ofelia Caliz - Boca del Rio area - I was with my family of three at my house near the river. By Saturday
night we had to go out to my son's house at the Airstrip area because the water
was rising rapidly and the winds were picking up fast. It was a very rough time.
We saw some houses falling down. My son's house suffered minimal damage but it
did get very wet. My house was soaking wet and I did lose a lot of stuff. I have
been washing ever since the storm ended. Thank God my husband is working; I
think with time we will be all right.
Samuel Gonzalez Jr. - Deer Street, San Juan area - I stayed at
my home with my family until about 7:00 a.m. Sunday morning when we were forced
to evacuate. By this time, we only had about four inches to go before the water
entered my home. The wind was becoming stronger by the minute and roof tops had
already started to fly. I ran as fast as I could to Sands Hotel and a generous
gentleman I know as Curtis was kind enough to help us evacuate. While at Sands
Hotel I could see some of the neighboring roofs lifting and flying off far
beyond my sight. I estimated the winds to be 150 miles per hour with gusts of
easily 175mph! Sands Hotel served as an excellent hurricane shelter. After the
hurricane, I went back to my home only to see it in a bad state. Two pieces of
plywood had flown away and one room that had sheet rock needs total restoration.
Water rose as high as the inside of my home. I've experienced hurricanes before
but compared to Keith, they were minor. Keith was tremendous. It, being
stationary in San Pedro, did a lot of harm to us.
Vicki Evans - Behind Playador Hotel on Coconut
Drive - We were caught by surprise like everyone else. We did
not have time to evacuate. Having lived in Houston, a place that experiences
tornadoes frequently, I immediately prepared myself for the bad weather with
enough water and snacks for two to three days. When the winds and rains started
to become stronger, water began to leak through the back door and it took us
about six hours to mop it up using towels and ringing them into buckets. When
the situation worsened, all three of us (my husband and son) got into our
walk-in closet with pillows, a small radio and snacks to wait it out. When
everything was over we had lost some shingles and a few windows blew in,
allowing a lot of water to cause damage. Compared to others, our losses seem
minimal. The material things that we lost can be replaced with time. It is sad
talking to others who have lost everything. It seemed the hurricane hit everyone
in their weakest points.
Wallace - Pescador Drive - We left Saturday evening to my
brother, Tabo Alamilla's house by the high school area. Things weren't very bad
there but when the storm was at its strongest point, the windows began to burst
from the second floor where we were and we were forced to move downstairs. There
were about forty persons there, but it was safer. We had enough food, since I
had prepared some earlier and the other families also had their own.
Unfortunately, Keith did destroy my home. It fell to the ground on top of Dale's
guitar shop and destroyed all his hard work. We now have to start all over
again. Dale Wallace commented, "I hope to do a temporary apartment until we can
get back on our feet and build a better home for my beautiful China'."
Donaldo Guerrero - Almond Street/Black Coral
Street - I was with someone else by the embarcadero (area
behind old football field) when the storm came. The water rose rapidly and I had
to go to Mrs. Nellie Sabido's place at first. I managed to secure a rope from
Graniel's Cabinet Shop to Mrs. Sabido's to guide myself since the water was
chest deep. I also used the rope to secure myself to help another person. We
then went outside Mr. Graniel's home until the zinc and roof tops started to fly
away and then decided to go in to protect ourselves. The two neighbor dogs
stayed outside but managed to survive. Even though I've experienced other
hurricanes before, and even some at sea, Keith was a very scary experience.
Thank God we are doing fine.
Vidy Gomez -
Royal Palm Area - By 5:00 a.m. on Sunday, I was still at home
but the house was shaking furiously and the water had risen about four feet
outside. I packed some clothing and moved to my dad's home in that same area.
Although his place is on higher ground, water had also risen there. With the
water still rising, all of my family had to move to a higher level of the house
where the medical students were staying, housing a total of about 30 persons; us
included. We put the children in the bathroom to keep them dry and safe. Water
started to come in from beneath the glass doors so we had to constantly sweep
the water out; almost a full day doing this. We had to put a bed and a table to
keep the doors from caving in. The rain and wind were so hard, we could hardly
see Royal Palm Villas like we did before. The whole experience was scary
especially when one of the neighbors' home collapsed and we were afraid that the
plywood would fly directly at us. With the water storming in, one refrigerator
and the sofas were floating all around the house. What made this more
frightening was that my dad, who had experienced hurricanes, mentioned that he
hadn't seen one as scary as Keith.
Duran - Boca del Rio area - I moved my family out of our house
by Saturday to Mr. Omar Guerrero's home. When the storm started to come stronger
we moved to Mr. Javier Graniel's house. By this time, the zinc from some of the
houses had started to fly off. After I secured my family I went along with other
people to help others evacuate to a safer house. We spent the storm with only
minimal water leaks at Mr. Graniel's. After the hurricane, I went to check on my
home and was received by the horrible sight of it being severely damaged. The
whole roof was destroyed; clothing, television and other utilities all got wet.
The water rose five feet from the ground. This is the first hurricane I
experienced in Belize and it was a very scary one. I was especially scared for
my family. Because of the state of my house, we are presently staying at Mr.
Tino Gonzalez's home. My family and I thank all those who were kind to us during
this tragic time.
Ilda Ancona - Pescador
Drive - At first I wasn't frightened because I didn't know what
to expect. But when the high tension cables started to fall on top of my house,
that is when I began to get scared. The neighboring rooftops and zinc would fly
and hit my house causing more tension to my family. I was scared because I
didn't know if my roof had gone but just to make sure I got under the bed along
with my children. Eventually the majority of the ceiling did fly off and water
started to come in. While I was living this horrible experience, I could not
stop thinking of the people who live in the low areas and was specifically
afraid for my children.