Dangriga area experiences flooding from severe weather conditions

vlcsnap-2013-06-19-09h46m59s158Tropical Depression number 2 has been dumping rains consistently over the country of Belize. Over the past two days, the light but steady showers only stopped momentarily and it seems that the South got most of the rainfall.
Plus news traveled to Dangriga earlier today where the evidence of the past two days of nonstop rain was obvious while driving into the town. A large expanse of water raising at least a ft above the pavement was flowing freely across the highway as person tried their best to evacuate their homes to find drier grounds. Before we go to Dangriga though, we’ll tell you about the surrounding areas which were affected by the flooding. Plus news spoke with Mayor of Dangriga, Gilbert Swaso who’s the Chairman of the National Emergency Management Organization Branch in that municipality.

Mayor Gilbert Swaso – Chairman of NEMO Dangriga:
vlcsnap-2013-06-19-08h54m48s93As early as 10 o’clock last night we started getting reports of people who are certainly at risk, as a result of the flooding, which is a consequence of the severe downpour of tropical Depression Number two.  Initial reports from the flood bulletins were that the river was rising rather quickly and fast, such that the chairman of Hope Creek became very concerned, among other people.  Realizing that the Emergency Operations Center was open friom as early as yesterday about 9 o’clock, that EOC remains activated.  We had the Operational Sub-Committee Chairperson poised and ready to respond to those kind of eventualities.

Mayor Swaso also spoke to us about the Mullins River Bridge and other areas on the Southern Highway which had been compromised due to flooding.

Mayor Gilbert Swaso – Chairman of NEMO Dangriga:
vlcsnap-2013-06-19-08h59m20s121Other reports that came in was the fact that the Coastal Road was under water, and that the Mullins River Bridge was also compromised. Essentially, with the concurrence of NEMO, we managed to advise that the Coastal Road is closed, particularly because of that bridge being compromised, and the fact that the Coastal road in several areas was under water and impassable for vehicular traffic. 
The other reports that came in indicated then that there are several [flooded areas] on the Stann Creek Valley Road.  Right at the junction of the George Price Drive and the Ecumenical Drive, there’s severe flooding there, a minimum of six inches. Also, about four to five miles in Sarawee there is flooding, and that area again a minimum of six inches going up to about 12 to 15 inches of water. Similarly, flooding is also occurring as we speak in Hope Creek, and in the specific area at the junction of the Coastal Road and the Stann Creek Valley Road.  Again, very high in that area adjacent to the ITVET.

The flooding was so severe in the Mullins area that the Belize Coast Guard had to be deployed by boat to rescue some 49 persons.

Mayor Gilbert Swaso – Chairman of NEMO Dangriga: 
Similarly there are reports of people who needed to be evacuated in Mullins River.  As a consequence to that, with the concurrence of NEMO, the Coast Guard were deployed and have arrived at Mullins River, with a view to evacuating 49 people from Mullins River, and those people will be sheltered in Dangriga in one shelter, Parish Hall, which is now prepared to accept those shelterees from Mullins River.
vlcsnap-2013-06-19-09h25m21s93We have, on standby as we speak, one vessel from the BDF Boating Section, which is prepared to deploy in the event it is required.
Let me also mention that we also had some reports that there were some fishermen who needed some support from the cayes. So that again has been passed on to the Coast Guard, with a view then for them to support that effort.  The Coast Guard boat will remain on stand-by for us, in the event that there is any additional support that may be required in the river or in the Cayes, or for immediate search and rescue for people who may be trying to return to Dangriga and are at risk.

vlcsnap-2013-06-19-09h06m25s98Other areas affected by severe flooding included the Hopkins road, along with the Hopkins and Sitee River Village Road. Just south of the George Town Village Junction a culvert had been washed away and the Ministry of Works was making repairs to that area, however vehicular traffic was still made to pass through another feeder road nearby.

While residents from neighbouring villages had to be evacuated into shelter during the mid-morning rain. Mayo Gilbert Swaso spoke to us about Dangriga Town where streets and homes within areas such as Sabal Community, Rivas Estate and Lakeland Community among others were inundated by flood waters.

Mayor Gilbert Swaso – Chairman of NEMO Dangriga:
vlcsnap-2013-06-19-09h05m13s146Dangriga has been impacted, and the areas in Dangriga that are the Lakeland and the Rivas estate areas. Then there’s also the Benguche area and the Wagierale area.  The one [area] in Dangriga that is most seriously devastated, because of the impact of Tropical Depression Number Two, is New Site One and Two.
However we are prepared from the EOC to conduct immediate assessment, once we recieve word that the water has receded substantially, with a view then that we can do a through and proper investigation to ascertain the level of the damage that occurred as a result of the flooding.

Mayer Swaso says that while they are aware of the situation, works cannot start until the water has receded.

Mayor Gilbert Swaso – Chairman of NEMO Dangriga:
vlcsnap-2013-06-19-09h46m44s8We do know that there are several people’s homes that are under water.  We do know that several families are impacted.  But I want to assure everyone that as soon as we are cleared and the water has receded substantially, we will respond to confirm the level and the extent of damage, with a view to providing immediate support to those people who are severely impacted.  The EOC remains open and active.  Immediately after this I will be going into a meeting, just to get an update. 

We were also able to speak with Area Representative the Hon. Ivan Ramos. Mr Ramos told Plus news that the severe flooding is reflective of the issues which have not been corrected within that area.

Hon. Ivan Ramos – Area Representative:
vlcsnap-2013-06-19-10h14m47s182Over the years we have not corrected the problem, and this continues to occur.  If you go to Hope Creek, you’d have noticed that the same problems we had five years ago, it’s the same problem we’re having today.  Nothing has been done to correct the problem.
[The problem is] drainage, and it can be done in a simple way. [It’s] the same thing here in Dangriga. We just continue to look at this situation get worse over the years.

Even with all the water present Dangriga has been without portable water since Tuesday morning.

Hon. Ivan Ramos – Area Representative:
Since morning we haven’t had water, and I know people are concerned.  I think BWS should give some kind of release of information as to what the situation is.   I just suspect it’s because of the massive flooding in the area. [Torrential rain] and no water.  Imagine!

When our news team left Dangriga this evening the water had already started to recede slowly

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