Record-setting rains flood mainland Belize

The Island Newspaper, Ambergris Caye, Belize            Vol. 12, No. 24            June 27, 2002

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According to several National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) reports heavy rainfall, caused by a tropical wave, set records all over mainland Belize and left many people stranded or homeless last Thursday. Many workers who commute between Belize City and Belmopan, (and vice versa) needed to seek shelter overnight and reportedly seventeen families had to be evacuated because of these rains.

    With the severity of the weather conditions increasing, NEMO activated several operational committees to respond to the situation early in the day Thursday. The Belmopan Civic Center was opened as a shelter for the people evacuated from the villages of Salvapan, San Martin, Maya Mopan, Frank's Eddy, Cotton Tree and St. Matthews.  

    The total rainfall recorded at Belmopan was 13.15 inches between Wednesday and Thursday morning, breaking the area's one-day rainfall record of 8.42 inches set on 23rd June 1990 for that station.This was also greater than the average rainfall for the entire month of June, which is 12.04 inches.Similarly, the 22.83 inches recorded at the Hummingbird Hershey area shattered the one-day rainfall record of 10.20 inches set on 26th June 1997.It is also more than twice the normal monthly total of 11.16 inches, and in one day exceeded the wettest June total of 18.74 inches recorded in 1997. Torrential rains over the Maya Mountains created flooding in the Toledo, Stann Creek and Cayo Districts.

    Motorists were advised to follow the directions of the Transport Department and Ministry of Works personnel on the scene who determined whether it was safe for vehicles. At approximately 3:00 p.m. on Thursday, the Western Highway between Miles 45 and 47 was closed. The Macal River at Mollejon rose 18 feet between Wednesday and Thursday. The showers continued on Friday. According to NEMO reports, the Macal River at Guacamallo in the Cayo District was rising at the rate of one foot per hour and the Mollejon, seven feet per hour. At Mile 62 the river rose nine inches overnight.

    Rivers fed from the eastern and northern slopes of the Maya Mountains were also subject to further flooding. In Toledo District, the Deep River and Golden Stream; and in Stann Creek District, the Sittee and North Stann Creek Rivers, and all neighboring communities were affected by the torrential downpours.

    On Monday, the Golden Stream Bridge at Mile 72 of the Southern Highway became impassable because of rising waters. Similarly, small creeks and larger rivers all over Belize continued to rise.

    Reportedly, water still covers the Western Highway at Mile 8 and other sections, and many of the country's secondary roads are still impassable. In a release from the Ministry of Works and Transportation on Tuesday warnings were given for the following road conditions. On the Western Highway Yalbac Road is not passable to traffic due to washouts/scouring of a few sections near the Gallo Creek Area; Tambos Road, Baking Pot Ferry, Young Bank Ferry and More Tomorrow Bridge are all closed; Frank's Eddy Village Road has two culverts near Mile 6 affected by storm water. In the Belize District, Manatee Road is closed. On the Southern Highway, Golden Stream Bridge and Jordan Causeway are closed and the Deep River and Blue Creek Bridges are under three feet and two feet of water respectively. The rain continued to fall on the mainland Tuesday and according to Meteorologist Carl Fuller of the Belize Weather Service, another tropical wave is expected to reach Belize by Thursday.
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