Sunday, October 19, 2008

Wet and Wild

These pictures say it all. Belize is flooding. A tropical depression (TD16) formed about a week ago in the Western Caribbean, and during all of last week moved along the north coast of Honduras, then into Honduras and southern Guatemala, where it stalled, and continued dumping massive amounts of rain on Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvadore and Belize. Rain started here Monday and continued through the week, and by Friday things were pretty wild with water levels rising in all creeks and rivers almost to the point where they were when Hurricane Mitch, the last big hurricane to hit Belize, blew through in 1998.

Tom was out with our guests on Friday, and they barely made it home because the creek running through Cristo Rey and into the Macal River was over the bridge, and some vehicles were choosing to turn around and head back to San Ignacio. Mark, Tom, and Don chose to drive through and made it, but said they were almost stuck again when they got to a point on the road just before San Antonio where a flooded spring had turned the road to deep and heavy mud.

The buses were already stuck, but thanks to Mark’s Prado’s high suspension and 4WD, they made it through.

On Saturday morning we decided to head out and see what was happening in the rest of the Cayo District.

We weren’t even sure if we could get out, but although the road was bad, the Prado was able to get around the washout on the Georgeville Road. We headed towards San Ignacio down the Western Highway and decided to see what was happening with the ferry to Spanish Lookout.

We couldn’t even get as far as the ferry because the river had formed a branch and was running through these cow fields and across the road. We watched an Isuzu Trooper drive through the flood, but decided not to risk it since we had no burning reason to get to the ferry.

When we got into Santa Elena, we joined a lot of other people looking at the Macal River where it usually flows under the low lying bridge to San Ignacio. The bridge is entirely submerged. If you look at the two phone poles in line with where the road should be, the bridge starts where the second phone pole is sticking up from the water.

We got in line to drive across the Hawksworth Bridge and parked on Burns Ave. near Celina’s. This is the view from the San Ignacio side of the low lying bridge.

This is the market, which is usually well above the river.

And here’s a peek between a couple of buildings on the square where the taxis and buses line up. These buildings are now riverfront on the market side.

After we left San Ignacio we decided to drive through Succotz and into Benque to see how high the Mopan River was.

It was up and rising, and was already crossing the road in a few spots. If you look at the “FLOODING SHOT” threads on this BB, you can see that it went up even more overnight and this morning, and the Western Highway is impassable through Succotz and Benque.

All but the highest bridges are covered. In fact, the only bridge I can think of that isn’t flooded is the Hawksworth Bridge. According to the flood report, even the bridge between Belize and Guatemala at Benque/Melchor is under, and possibly gone or damaged depending on the rumor. The bridge at Roaring Creek is under, and we’re hearing mixed reports as to whether it’s passable. We know from the flood report that Spanish Lookout is cut off from the rest of the country, and if the Roaring Creek bridge isn’t usable, that means San Ignacio is cut off as well.

While Belize is being cut into pieces by raging rivers, things are generally quiet up here in the hills. It’s possible that we (“we” being the Mountain Pine Ridge and the villages of San Antonio and 7 Miles) may be cut off by road damage from the flooding, but we saw yesterday that the road crews are working to prevent that where possible. When we came home yesterday afternoon, we decided to come through San Antonio even though we’d heard that the flooding spring had washed out the road.

The road crews were there dumping gravel and big rocks and running heavy machinery over the road to firm it up, and they said that their next stop was to fill in the washout on the Georgeville Road.

The sun was shining briefly yesterday afternoon, but shortly after dark it started raining again and it rained all night. We’ve had showers, some heavy, off and on today, and the weather report looks very bad with another big wet tropical depression sitting in the Caribbean just off the Belize coast. The forecast is that the depression will continue to dump rain over the country for at least another two days, and it could turn into a tropical storm. So, we’ll be keeping up to date on what’s happening in the country via the internet, and hoping that the rain stops soon.

All that aside, we’re doing fine up here in the hills. Yes, it’s wet, and we have standing water in places we thought would always be dry, and the wet mud is everywhere. Nobody we’ve talked to has any dry shoes left, and if people don’t have dryers, they don’t have any dry clothes. Taking care of the animals is an endurance test as we slog through the mud, and the horses aren’t too happy about all the rain and mud. Little Lodo was cold on Friday, so Tom and Selwyn built a little shelter, and we haven’t seen him shiver since then so apparently he’s using it although we had a colt/woman mud wrestling session when I tried to drag him into it for the first time. The water from the pipe is running brown because the rivers and streams are all running so fast, but we just shut it off to our tanks and have been collecting rain water – and there’s no shortage of that. We have enough food up here that if we are cut off for a period of time, we’re not going to starve.

Our biggest worry is that Mark and Don are scheduled to fly home on Thursday, and we’re not sure if they’ll have any difficulties getting to the airport – but at this point, there’s no sense worrying about four days from now, and if we have to come up with a plan before Thursday, we’ll figure something out. This is our road about a mile from our house. It used to be two lanes, or at least two cars could pass.


Julian Foster said...

Well, now I understand why you haven't been bloggin' much lately. They do call this the "rainy season" don't they *grin*.

I sure wish you could send some of that moisture up to us in Upstate SC. We could surely use it!!

Anyway, thanks for the update. Look forward to more once you dry out some...


sandy A. said...

Hope y'all dry out soon!
What is it with horses--it seems they never want to go inside out of the rain! Just like turkeys.....maybe they are related! HA!

MoonracerFarm said...

Sandy - Horses ARE turkeys! Just ask anyone who's lived with them!

And Julian, we're trying to dry out. It looks like we're actually going to have an hour of sunshine before sunset this evening - before more rain they're predicting for tomorrow. The good news is the rivers are going down. Believe me, if we could send some of the moisture to you, we would!