The Floods of October, 2008
DT16 and Invest 91L
Beginning October 16th, Belize was affected by copious rainfall and unprecedented flooding throughout the country. Tropical Depression 16 sat over the Northwestern Caribbean/Central America for several days and produced prolonged heavy rain, flooding and landslides in Belize, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and Guatemala. In the Cayo District of Belize, the communities of Benque Viejo, San Jose Succotz, Bullet Tree Falls and Calla Creek were completely cut off. Initial estimates suggest that there has been loss of US $ 1.6 million to infrastructure damage and of US $ 3.6 million to agricultural sector. There were no deaths in Belize from the initial effects of TD16.
DT16 wasn't quite gone when a new disturbance, called Invest 91L, parked itself just off the Belize coast . That system was predicted to bring between 4 and 8 inches of rain. The actual rainfall totals ranged from 4 inches at Barton Creek to an unprecedented 21.52 inches at Baldy Beacon – well surpassing the normal rainfall levels. In fact the official Met Office data shows that Caracol, Hummingbird Hershey, Maya King, Savannah and Punta Gorda stations have all broken the extreme daily rainfall records for the month of October.
Even though rainfall levels at these stations broke the extreme records, much of the waters that inundated the country actually came to Belize from eastern Guatemala, through the Mopan River. Government officials say residents close to that river have indicated that the extent of the flood along the Mopan was worse than any other flood in their memory.
In Consejo, Belize over 10 inches of rain fell the night of October 21st . This resulted in the severe flooding of Corozal-Consejo road. The road was passable in high ground clearance vehicles, but many residents wising to shop in Corozal from Wednesday through Saturday had to turn back as did many of the construction workers coming from Corozal trying to get to their job sites in the Consejo area.
Willard Levi; NEMO Corozal District Coordinator
In the Corozal District: "As to cut off by road we have San Victor it’s cut off between San Narciso and San Victor and San Voctor Buena Vista they have problems with getting across. But like I said with the rains holding out it is difficult to get there but you could get there. The problem now is between Chunox and Sarteneja and the Pueblo Nuevo Ferry to reach over to Copper Bank that's a problem also. Caledonia to Santa Cruz and Caledonia to Buena Vista we could pass there but with difficulty. Yesterday when we sent out the teams we managed to get across but to get to Sarteneja we had to go by sea because of the difficulty in getting to that area."
The additional unexpected rain lead to widespread flooding in the Western and Central areas of the country and the first confirmed loss of life . Two Nigerian Technical Aid volunteers 30 year Mujeedat Olasunbo Biobaku and her companion Adulgafar Taye Bello drowned when the canoe they were using to cross the Sittee River in the Stann Creek District capsized. Five more persons fell victim to the rising waters of the Mopan River in the Cayo District. The five persons were from the village of Arenal and had gone shopping in Melchor de Mencos on the Guatemalan side of the border when the a canoe in which they were traveling was swept away by the strong currents of the river.
November 14th Update
Recovery from the big flood of 08 continues in Cayo, the Belize River Valley, and parts of the Orange Walk District. New figures released from the National Emergency Management Organization show that the recovery will be lengthy and costly. More than 16,000 persons from 113 villages were affected. 9,200 of them have received two weeks of food supplies while 216 remain in shelters. $1 million has been spent to treat 8,200 persons for flood related illnesses.
The flood also wiped out 1000 head of cattle, pigs, sheep, and poultry amounting to a loss of over a million dollars. 46 miles of road were damaged and it will to cost over 10 million dollars to fix them. 8.600 acres of crop valued at 12.9 million dollars were also destroyed.