It’s still raining. The floodwaters in the western part of Belize where we live have started to recede, but all that water has run through the rivers to the eastern part of the country, which is now having flooding problems. And it’s still raining. And meteorologists expect it to continue to rain for the foreseeable future, thanks to a big blob of wet weather sitting in the western Caribbean. The country’s meteorological department is issuing a daily flood forecast, and while they’ve observed that the flooding in the west has gone down, they’re not making any promises that it won’t go up again if this rain continues. This is their forecast for our area for Saturday based on where water levels are now, and what they expect of the weather between now and then:
SATURDAY OUTLOOK: MACAL RIVER: AT CHALILLO AND MOLLEJON RESERVOIR LEVELS WILL REMAIN ABOVE SPILLWAYS AND WILL BEGIN TO RISE ONCE AGAIN. ABOVE LOW LEVEL BRIDGE AND RISING LEVELS AT SAN IGNACIO. MOPAN RIVER: STEADY FLOOD LEVELS AT BENQUE VIEJO. BELIZE RIVER: IGUANA CREEK: ABOVE LOW LEVEL BRIDGE AND STEADY FLOOD LEVELS. CROOKED TREE LAGOON ABOVE CAUSEWAY AND RISING LAGOON LEVELS. LEVELS NEAR MAYPEN AND DOUBLE RUN TO THE COAST WILL REMAIN AT FLOOD STAGE AND CONTINUE TO RISE. NEAR LORD'S BANK, LADYVILLE, AND THE PSW GOLDSON AIRPORT RISING FLOOD LEVELS. LOW LYING AREAS IN BELIZE CITY MAY EXPERIENCE INCREASING WATER LEVELS IN THE MORNING.
We’ve had a couple of breaks of sunshine over the past few days, but it seems that within a couple of hours it clouds up again and starts to rain. We wake up and hear rain on the roof at night, and in the morning we ask each other if that really was rain, or if it was just part of a bad dream…and every morning we’ve determined that it wasn’t just a dream.
In the lowlands around here, people are starting to think about moving back into their homes, or whatever remains of their homes. But, they’re keeping an eye on the skies and the weather reports, and keeping their options open. Here in the highlands, it’s just muddy – mud like even our NY horse friends wouldn’t believe, nor would our Vermont relatives who even have a season called Mud Season when all the snow melts and turns everything to mud. It’s impossible to even walk down the driveway to the road without getting muddy, and doing the horse chores results in mud smears and splatters over at least 80% of our bodies.
We’ve said to people that we’ve never seen anything like this, and that while we knew Belize had a rainy season, nothing led us to believe there would be this much water. The response from Belizeans has been that they’ve never seen anything like this either, and while everybody expects rain and mud and some flooding in the rainy season, this is way beyond the usual.
But, we can’t do much about it. We now understand why people build their houses on legs here; if we had a basement, it would have been flooded a week ago. Our biggest concern is the horses, since the town of Spanish Lookout is flooded and cut off from the rest of the country, and that’s the only place we know of to buy horse feed and hay. The feed stores in San Ignacio usually sell it, but they get it from Spanish Lookout too, so supplies are dwindling. However, we’ve learned that horses love avocados, and we have two trees that are dropping quite a few, so between avocados, some time in the new pasture every day despite the mud, and the good old “tie the horse to a rope in the ditch” trick, they probably won’t starve.
We’ve been very impressed with how people are responding to the flooding. Everybody seems to be helping everybody else however they can. We have not heard any reports of looting, and we’ve heard lots of reports of people helping each other. People with boats are helping others get in or out of their properties, and sometimes shuttling supplies across rivers when needed. The government seems to be stepping up to the plate and keeping NEMO crews where they’re needed, and keeping the road crews doing whatever they can to keep the roads passable – although they obviously can’t do anything about bridges that are still under 10+ feed of water. In reading the reports of what’s going on in the rest of Central America as a result of this weather, we feel very fortunate to be in Belize where there haven’t been any casualties, unlike some of the other affected Central American countries. Regarding the roads, we’re glad to see that the two roads we use to get in and out of here are on the list of roads that are both being watched now so they’re kept passable, and which the government is planning to continue to work on when this stretch of bad weather is over so they won’t wash out so quickly if this happens again.
Mark and Don made it out, and actually flew out of Belize City a couple of days early. They left here on Monday, knowing that if they waited flooding would only get worse towards Belize City. They had to drive over the flooded Roaring Creek Bridge, which Mark said was a somewhat creepy experience when he looked out his car window and saw a man rowing a boat right next to him and not much below eye level. The bridge was flooded, but the police were letting high vehicles like SUVs and trucks cross. Mark emailed when he got home to Minnesota and said it was raining there too – but he was still glad to be home.