General — 20 September 2013 — by Albert J. Ciego
Torrential flooding affects north and west of the Jewel

Heavy rainfall associated with a slow-moving area of low pressure over Belize over the last few days has caused flash flooding in La Democracia near Mile 31on the George Price Highway. NEMO has been monitoring the area since Monday.

Earlier this morning a flash flood from fast-rising waters due to heavy rainfall which fell last night caused the Sibun River to break its bank.

NEMO reported that several homes on the Coastal Road were under water due to the flash flood. NEMO Belize District Coordinator and the Police were deployed to the area to establish what occurred and render assistance. Even though the water is receding rapidly the Belize Disaster and Rescue Response Team (BDARRT) will continue to check the area and remain on standby to provide any search and rescue assistance that might be required.

At Mile 27 on the George Price Highway the road is compromised due to damage to a culvert, causing traffic delays. Drivers are asked to exercise extreme caution when passing that area and whilst travelling on the highways as rains have affected most of the major and secondary roads and streets throughout the country.

Flood waters in the Rio Hondo continue to rise, cutting off the communities of Santa Cruz, San Roman, San Antonio and Douglas. Two civilian boats supplied by the people of Orange Walk have been deployed to cover the areas from San Roman to Douglas. The Belize Defence Force River patrol between Santa Cruz and San Roman will remain in place to provide assistance to the people in the area, and the BDF and Belize National Coast Guard are on standby to support NEMO operations in the north.

Corozal was also affected by the rain. The Consejo Shores road was inundated and can only be traversed by high vehicles. Reports are that two to three feet of water cover about 3 miles of the road.

The inundated area includes the site of the garbage dump, and the garbage is now everywhere, floating in the water. The situation is troublesome. People walking in the water must make an effort to avoid contact with the garbage.

The NEMO Coordinator for Corozal, Willard Levy, told reporters that the 3-mile stretch of road is a health hazard. He has raised the concern to the Ministry of Health, to the Mayor and also to the Minister. A response from the three entities is expected to address the potentially dangerous health concern, as soon as possible.

Commuters on the San Estevan Road in Orange Walk became stranded and got angry when a section of the road was washed away due to constant erosion. About 500 commuters on the road travelling in buses and other vehicles held a demonstration on the San Estevan Road to ensure the road is repaired. During the demonstration no vehicles were allowed to travel on the inundated road. The demonstration and road blockage occurred about 9:00 this morning, and shortly after, road construction machines and trucks were brought to the area to begin repairs on the road.

Commuters and students were then able to travel to Orange Walk and other areas. Also, at Mile 27 on the George Price Highway, about 10:00 this morning, one of three culverts collapsed, causing the road to become inundated, and bringing traffic to a standstill. Machines and workers of the Ministry of Works were dispatched to the area, where they battled with the strong flowing water to replace the collapsed culvert. The task was concluded about 5:30 this evening and traffic to and from Belmopan to Belize City began to flow. Traffic on both sides of the damaged culvert backed up for about two miles.

The District Emergency Management Office in Orange Walk yesterday announced that besides the San Estevan Road in Orange Walk, which was flooded and being eroded, other areas in the Orange Walk District were also affected. Residents of the area were urged to be on the alert for evacuation if the water continues to rise. Elodio Aragon, Sr., the Orange Walk District Emergency Management Organizer, said that many areas are affected and are under water. In Louisiana, Orange Walk, yards are inundated, but houses are not flooded. There are areas where only high vehicles can travel between the villages, and patrols from village to village are being carried out with boats. The situation is being monitored, and shelters are on the standby to be opened if the need arises.

Should the situation worsen and the rains continue, Aragon announced that they are prepared to provide the necessary assistance to the residents living in the areas affected.

Residents are advised not to swim in the flood waters and to continue to monitor the radio for advisories.

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