Tropical Storm Arthur
Cause Major Damage in Belize
May 30 - June 3, 2008
It began in the Eastern Pacific and was designated Tropical Depression 1E by The USA's National Hurricane Center (NHC) at 800 PM PDT Wednesday May 28, 2008. The HNC named the rapidly developing system Tropical Storm Alma at 1100 AM PDT Thursday, May 29th. Alma was the first storm of the 2008 Eastern Pacific Hurricane Season and she was a record breaker. Alma was the first East Pacific Tropical Storm since record keeping began to make land fall in Central America. She also made landfall further east than any pervious recorded cyclone in that basin.
Alma Dies and Arthur is Born
The NHC issued its final advisory on Tropical Storm Alma at 900AM CST on May 30th. Alma was dead, but all that moisture and energy had entered the Gulf of Honduras in the North West Caribbean. This surge of disturbed weather was designated Invest 90L by the NHC.
At 300PM CST the NHC declared that 90L had organized into Tropical Storm Arthur, the first named storm of the 2008 Atlantic Hurricane Season, one day before the season's official start. Like Alma, Arthur was also unique. Cyclones normally do not form over land yet when Arthur was named, the center had already made landfall in Northern Belize.
Hon. Dean Barrow, Prime Minister, Declares A State of Emergency
"This is a national emergency, this is a national disaster. We first of all express condolences to those families that have lost loved ones, to those that have seen lives lost. That is the most naturally unfortunate aspect of this tragedy that has unfolded and that is unfolding. What we’re concentrating on now is the relief effort to ensure that people are given relief supplies, the immediate relief supplies that are needed as quickly and as effectively and as comprehensibly as possible."
South Declared a Disaster Area
"Cabinet has agreed that we declare the Stann Creek District, and that portion of the Belize District that includes Gales Point, a disaster area".
Kendal Bridge Gone
The Storm dumped close to a dozen inches of rain all across Belize in 4 days of relentless showers. Particularly hard hit were the waterways running through the country’s citrus belt - the North Stann Creek, Mullins, Sittee and Kendal rivers. As a result of the raging waters the Hummingbird Highway was washed out near Middlesex, isolating several villages. The Kendal Bridge was totally destroyed, severing the Southern Highway and isolating the Toledo and Southern Stann Creek districts from the rest of the country. Mullins River Bridge was also washed away.
The death toll from Arthur has reached seven. Two from Seine Bight; Jayden Roches, a three-year child from Hope Creek, who, we are told, slipped away from his father, Thilberto Roches, in the flood, three people – a mother and two children (the Ritchies) at Middlesex, and one person from Sittee.
Northern Belize Suffers Also
The situation in the Corozal District was not as extreme. That’s not to say that no one was affected by the rising waters. According to District Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Organization in Corozal Willard Levy, residents that were most affected by flooding were in Santa Clara, San Roman, San Narciso, San Victor, Louisville and Caledonia Villages.
San Pedro Ambergris Caye also reported major flooding, and several boats, as many as 65, were reportedly submerged off the caye. One woman was injured in the head on San Pedro and was to be flown in to Belize City.
As bad as the human loss of life and infrastructure was through out the country, the damage caused to crops in the north may have even more server effects on Belizeans. Rice fields ready for harvest in Blue Creek have been destroyed. Sugar Cane fields, also ready for harvest are flooded and unreachable. The full economic loss due to TS Arthur may well exceed those suffered from Hurricane Dean, just 10 months earlier.
Damage in Consejo is Limited
Here in Consejo, Belize, damage was confined to ocean side structures, mainly sea walls and docks.