The recent flooding and damage to homes, property and farm land in the Corozal District is a very good example how these tropical storms during the Hurricane Season are nothing to be carefree about. It does not take much rain to cause serious flooding and damage to an area as these storms do pack a punch, be it a tiny Tropical Depression or a massive category 5 Hurricane.
Many people take things for granted and do not make the necessary preparations during tropical storm or hurricane warnings. Once some people see that a storm is not a large one, they start making preparations for hurricane parties. The danger behind these storms is their unpredictability. Forecasters can ‘predict’ pretty much the track they are going to take, but no one can pinpoint exactly where it is going to strike and which areas are going to receive the most damage.
Case in point, look at the past two storms to cross over Belize this month. Hurricane Ernesto made landfall just above the Belize/Mexico border as a Category 1 Hurricane and it brought little rain and just some wind gusts. Some residents evacuated, others boarded up their homes and many prepared for a direct impact as the storm seemed headed straight for Belize; luckily we were spared.
And now a weak tropical depression which followed almost the same track as Ernesto makes landfall about a week after; it brought heavy rainfall to the northern district of Corozal. There was massive flooding, homes were inundated, streets were impassable, crop was ruined and people had to evacuate their homes to shelters that the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) had to make available.
An emergency state for the district created by a small tropical depression, how about that? Residents were not expecting that much rain and the area residents were not prepared. City officials now discover that their towns and villages do not have the proper drainage to handle that much water; a wakeup call indeed.
In 2010 when Hurricane Richard made landfall in Belize and affected the inner portions of the country, residents were stunned that a hurricane could cause damage to communities as far west in the Cayo District with all the elevated land and high mountains.
“What a hurricane in Cayo? Never heard of it,” is what most people said. They were unprepared and were shocked at all the devastation Hurricane Richard caused.
Experts at the Weather Channel said it best a couple weeks ago – They highlighted the fact that Hurricane Andrew (1992), which devastated communities in the state of Florida, USA and caused billions in damage, started off as a very week tropical depression just a couple days out in the Atlantic. Hurricanes Mitch, Dean and Keith are perfect examples here in Belize.
It comes to show and teach us a lesson that Hurricanes/Depressions/Storms are very unpredictable and that we should always be prepared for the worse and hope for the best. If nothing happens, at least you know you are safe and were prepared.