Hurricane Richard - Ambergris Caye & Belize Message Board
Belize Rebuilds After Hurricane Richard
October 26, 2010
This home in Belmopan lost part of its roof during hurricane Richard.
Life is slowly returning to normal in Belize after Category One Hurricane Richard slammed into the lightly populated central region of the country Sunday night October 24 leaving behind damage to infrastructure and agriculture, a total collapse of the electrical grid but no loss of life.
The eye of Hurricane Richard made landfall approximately 10 miles south of the capital Belmopan, population 20,000 Sunday evening. It ripped off the roofs of dozens of homes on the coast, from Belize City to the north, down to Dangriga in the south, and destroyed hundreds of plywood and tin roof shacks used by the poor – mostly in Belize City and nearby villages. Some 4,000 people huddled in hurricane shelters during the storm that brought 92 mile per hour winds and torrential rains, and today Tuesday a couple thousand remain there as their homes are gone or uninhabitable. Most Belizeans weathered the storm in darkness as the country’s entire electrical grid collapsed. Belize purchases electrical power from Mexico and generates its own from two hydro plants but the damage to transmission lines was substantial. The seat of government, Belmopan, built 50 miles inland 29 years ago following a devastating hurricane that partly destroyed coastal Belize City, was also plunged into darkness. The Belize government had decided a couple of years ago to decommission the capital’s diesel generating backup station and rely solely on the national grid.
Crane retrieving hurricane Richard downed billboard at Habet owned hardwware store in Belmopan Belize.
The Belize government has announced an estimated damage of U.S. $18. million from hurricane Richard – not counting the disruption to business and the productive sector due to the collapse of the electrical grid, which also led to no water being available as the government owned water company does not have backup generators to power its pumping stations. Prime Minister Barrow vowed to make all efforts to find the money to rebuild the damage done by the hurricane.
By Tuesday morning approximately 70 percent of the country had electricity restored and the privately owned Belize Electricity Limited was projecting to have the entire grid restored by nightfall. All schools in the Belize, Cayo and Stann Creek districts are closed and will reopen on Wednesday. Many schools serve a dual role as hurricane shelters. Internet service and cable television are still disrupted due to downed lines and utility poles. The country’s international airport near Belize City is now reopened and flight schedules are normal. Additional flights are being put in to retrieve passengers who ended up in other countries, for example El Salvador, when flights had to be diverted on Monday in the aftermath of the hurricane.
At a press conference organised by Prime Minister Dean Barrow in Belmopan yesterday evening it was revealed that about 30% of Belize’s orange crop has been lost. One reporter described walking a citrus orchard in the Stann Creek Valley: “The entire orchard was covered with an emerald carpet of thousands upon thousands of young and immature orange fruit ripped from the trees by the hurricane winds.”
The largest citrus processing company in Belize is starting processing operations ahead of schedule today to do sampling tests and attempt to recover some of the crop on the ground.
Despite the misery endured by Belizeans during the hurricane, the event was not without its lighthearted and interesting moments.
Some motorists and tourists on the Northern Highway near Belize City (and thousands watching on television) were startled to see crocodiles and boa constrictors crossing the highway as it began to flood.
In San Victor, a village in the Orange Walk district, a shelter warden opened his shelter early. But then got drunk and accidentallylocked himself inside the shelter. Being unable to find the keys in the darkness, he rode out the storm by himself while villagershad to flee to another shelter.
And in Belmopan, the government’s post storm press conference at the the National Emergency Management Organization was cut short when the building’s backup generator failed during a long-winded intervention by a local politician.Belizean.com