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Lisa raced through the West, but halved its speed over Belize City

FeaturesLisa raced through the West, but halved its speed over Belize City

by Colin Hyde

Strong winds and rain from Tropical Storm Lisa lashed Camalote and its surrounds for about three hours on Wednesday night, beginning a little after 5:00 p.m. That’s right; when Lisa reached here it had lost hurricane strength, and on top of that the eye passed north of us, about 18 miles from Belmopan. Of course, it was still scary stuff; there’s always the concern about surprise gusts that can make the best preparations look like shish.

The wind up here came mainly from the west, and briefly from the north. There’s a much eroded awning on my porch that I didn’t expect to make it. I nailed a sheet of zinc over a portion of it, but I needn’t have. The wind didn’t even touch it. I know coconut trees are no pushover, but I expected my in-laws’ two to topple, because they are on the edge of a drain. They shed their nuts, but the fronds aren’t even wind-damaged.

I didn’t hear the howling baboons on Wednesday night. That’s the way Hurricane Earl sounded when it barreled through here on the night of August 4, 2016. The Weather Underground (WU) archives say when Earl came through, it was still at hurricane strength, and the eye passed less than 10 miles from Belmopan. To add to its fury, Earl, unlike Lisa, was edging to the south. Whoa, I’m making my calculations on an RF&G “hurricane” map, so please to give me an inch if I’m not entirely accurate.

According to (WU), Hurricane Lisa came fast and didn’t leave Belize City and Belize Rural in a hurry. For much of its journey to shore, from tropical storm to hurricane, Lisa was traveling at a fairly rapid 12 to 14 miles per hour clip.

Using the (WU) tracker to follow the path of Lisa, at 6:00 p.m. on Monday it was tracking west and was a little over 600 miles from Belize. At 6:00 p.m. Tuesday, Lisa was about 260 miles from Belize, with a due west course taking her just south of Hopkins. But Lisa was veering north, and 15 hours later, at 9:00 a.m. on Wednesday, her eye was about 75 miles from land, with a due west course taking her just north of Gales Point.

Lisa continued edging north, and at noon on Wednesday her coordinates were 17.3 N and 87.7 W, which put her eye between Gales Point and Belize City, and less than 40 miles from the coast. By noon Belize City was already beginning to experience gusts from Lisa. A little after 3:00 p.m., her eye, still edging north, crossed the coast just 10 miles south of Belize City. Between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Lisa slowed to a cruel crawl, about 7.5 mph. The battering of Belize City would continue until around 6:00 p.m.

A rare bad story about trees

The Father of the Nation was a tree man, like Joyce Kilmer, who penned a much celebrated poem about their virtues. We are all so dependent on trees, for the clean air we breathe, for their tasty fruits and nuts, and glorious flowers. But trees can become a menace when they are in the wrong place, or not properly cared for.

We know of trees that grow so big that their roots extend under houses and rip their foundation apart. We know of trees that break up in bad storms and become missiles that smash into houses and cars and electric poles. And we know of trees in neighbors’ yards that lead to animosity which could erupt into fisticuffs if sturdy fences don’t separate them.

Though the storm didn’t linger in my village, a number of trees snapped like twigs or were uprooted. In the plant category, the cassava patch and apple bananas in my backyard got shredded, but my coco yam and sweet potato plants, it was like only a zephyr passed over them.

The damage caused by falling/breaking trees in Belize City and the villages in the Belize District was enormous. In the aftermath of Lisa, some laws will have to be made or revised. We have to change with the times. I believe no pigs or cows are allowed in Belize City. There was a time when my paternal family had cattle on land that is now called Collet, Port Loyola, and Lake I.

It would be good if an estimate is made of the damage directly related to trees breaking. When the full cost of letting trees grow as they will is presented, it will be easier for the authorities to get us to comply with rules that limit the height and girth of trees in populated areas, and their nearness to power lines.

US tree laws and a mean neighbor

I was in a family member’s yard some years back, and I took a mango from a tree that had its trunk outside of his fence, in a neighbor’s yard. That having been established, that the tree didn’t belong to my family member, we’ll skip the part where the mango wasn’t worth a daam, except when no mango noh deh. If you’ve had Hayden, Julie, Thundershaw (don’t know if that’s jos a local name), Alphonso, or the awesome Blue, you’d hate it. If I’d known that mango was a dud I would have left it on the limb hanging over my family member’s yard, to rot.

Can you believe the neighbor challenged me for harvesting “his” mango? I can’t explain the hate in his heart. Maybe he thought he had planted a prize and after waiting five years for the first fruits, he was let down. He might have planned on winning some delightful girl’s heart with a dozen of his select mangoes. I bet if he had given one to a young lady, she would have stoned him with it.

What’s with that guy, his objection to my taking a mango off a tree with the trunk in his yard? My gudnis, HALF the tree and roots are in my family member’s yard! People, sometimes it’s hard to believe people.

Hmm, I know that like me, you think I was terribly wronged. Whoa there, can you believe that if I lived in the US I might have been flirting with jail? FindLaw, a US real estate legal aid on the web, said that when it comes to picking fruit from a tree hanging over your yard, the laws vary by state. What? Yap, in that country you need to “check your local laws to see if you can eat any fruit that falls off the tree.”

If a neighbor’s tree is a daam nuisance to you, you have license to trim it, up to the property line. If leaves from your neighbor’s tree cause a nuisance, they are yours to pick up, because they are considered a “natural product.” If the tree grows in the middle of the boundary, it belongs to both yards, and it cannot be removed without the approval of all concerned. If you do anything in your yard that causes your neighbor’s tree to die, you are liable. You are responsible for trees that cause a threat to your neighbor, but if the tree is properly maintained and it breaks by an “Act of God”, you might be off the hook.

You can file a nuisance claim if your neighbor doesn’t properly maintain their tree. If the tree’s roots threaten your property, you are allowed in most US states to trim them, and some states allow you to sue if you suffer any property damage.

The neighbor who got cross because I took a lowly common mango from a limb hanging in my family member’s yard, I don’t know if he had lived in the US, or there is some crazy law on our books that disallows harvesting from branches that hang over your yard. There is an old story in Belize City about a man who used to stop children from picking up kraabu that fell from his tree onto the street. My family member’s neighbor must be his son.

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