Hurricane Earl

This is Belize: Looking a bit more like the Paradise we always imagined

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Look, Ma! No trash! A rare and joyful sight on Ambergris Caye, after yesterday's First Friday trash cleanup.
Look, Ma! No trash! A rare and joyful sight on Ambergris Caye, after yesterday’s First Friday trash cleanup.

Moppit and I walked to Ak’Bol and back this morning and for the first time in a long time this always beautiful walk dazzled me.

And I know why, too.

Not only is the shoreline almost completely recovered from Hurricane Earl but the beaches are as full and lush as I’ve ever seen them.

But, most noticeably, THERE IS NO TRASH TO BE SEEN. This is a rare and incredible sight because even the most charming sections of beach up here are usually littered with plastic refuse and bottles. I urge you to take a walk north from the Sir Barry Bowen Bridge as far as you can up the beach. Read the rest of this entry »

This is Belize: Walk a mile or two in their shoes

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This is my favorite photo of Moppit so far.I may have already used it in a blog but what the hell. Who ever grows tired of looking at a beautiful face?
This is my favorite photo of Moppit so far.I may have already used it in a blog but what the hell. Who ever grows tired of looking at a beautiful face?

Moppit and I were sitting in the golf cart near Izzy’s smoothie shop at the north end of Middle Street yesterday afternoon. We were talking about life, love, this, that and the price of bread. For a dog, she’s a very quick study. As I droned on, Moppit gave me the occasional nod  and tolerant expressions before returning to her own business of observing golf cart traffic.

I have no idea where she picked up such habits so quickly.

Rose had popped into Barbara Brown’s boutique & coffee shop for some flowers, a corsage for Moppit to wear to Sandy Rigby’s memorial service at Caribbean Villas. Sandy and Moppit had been inseparable companions for nearly three years, until she passed away in late November.

Read the rest of this entry »

Blackadore Caye hosts the ultimate Christmas office party

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A visiting couple from Corozal tied up on the back of Blackadore, making for a setting out of a Joseph Conrad novel.
A visiting couple from Corozal tied up on the back of Blackadore, making for a setting out of a Joseph Conrad novel. Bonus points if this image makes you think of Gardner McKay and Adam Troy in “Adventures in Paradise.”

There are office parties and then there are OFFICE PARTIES.

Yesterday, the good folks who have been preparing Leonardo DiCaprio’s 104-acre Blackadore Caye for development into what will likely be Belize’s most prestigious and eco-friendly resort island ever held a party for staff and friends. Around 150 people came to the island on four boats organized by Marcos and Karen Zul’s  Creative Tours Belize to shuttle back and forth from Ambergris Caye.

It was a celebration and a bittersweet farewell at the same time. Read the rest of this entry »

Screw you, Earl, the Palapa Bar is back and better than ever

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Panorama of the new Palapa Bar from the west side, facing east.
Panorama of the new Palapa Bar from the west side, facing east.

Hurricane Earl destroyed a lot of livelihoods when it ran down the coast of Ambergris Caye, here in Belize, tearing out piers like stubble on the end of a razor.

At least temporarily.

So many docks have been rebuilt, so many businesses were quickly up and running again within days of the terrible storm.

But none has been more anticipated and welcomed back from its watery grave than the Palapa Bar & Grill on Boca del Rio.

That happened on Sunday. Read the rest of this entry »

Ambergris Caye: This rolled in this afternoon

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This cloud formation suddenly arose from the east, over downtown San Pedro this afternoon, Tuesday Aug. 30, 2016.
This cloud formation suddenly arose from the east, over downtown San Pedro this afternoon, Tuesday Aug. 30, 2016. There was a crazy splurge of color at the top of this cloud, reds, yellows and ambers, spurting out like lava from the top of the cone. Sadly, it didn’t show up in this picture…..

Today started out like many another day recently — no breeze and hot, hot, hot.

I know, because I was riding around on my bicycle this afternoon, searching for empty 100-pound flour and rice sacks to use as sandbags. Just a little post-Hurricane Earl recovery project at the Cloisters, where we live. Thank you, Island City. You came through!

I was drenched. And thirsty.

What better time to stop at the newly opened Island Tackle Bar and Grill for a refreshing beer before pedaling home. Island Tackle is the former Tacklebox, an over the water bar of some stature that had been closed down for two years. It was set for a grand opening, the day Earl landed its sucker punch.

It is open now and my longtime pal Rudy was behind the bar,

As I sat on the deck looking out to the reef, a remarkably chilly breeze swept in from behind me. I turned around and saw this. Read the rest of this entry »

Relief effort begins to rebuild San Mateo homes hit by Hurricane Earl

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Pictures of homes trashed by Hurricane Earl in San Mateo.
Pictures of homes trashed by Hurricane Earl in San Mateo.

San Mateo was hit harder than we imagined by Hurricane Earl.

According to San Pedro Food Bank co-founder Brittney O’Daniel, 49 familes are affected,  in leveled or “half-destroyed” homes.

The local social activist has set a goal of $20,000 BZD to fund the cost of plywood, zinc roofing, hammers, nails and other building supplies to rebuild the homes. Read the rest of this entry »

San Pedro town ‘fathers’ deliver stern lectures to fire victims before disbursing relief funds

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Einer Salazar lectures fire victims on the importance of keeping their mouths shut before dispensing fire relief funds. Ouch.
Eiden Salazar lectures fire victims on the importance of keeping their mouths shut before dispensing fire relief funds. Ouch.

Yesterday morning I answered the San Pedro Food Bank’s call for volunteers to help sort donated clothing for distribution to Hurricane Earl victims.

By the time I got to the Lion’s Den in San Pedro, shortly after 9 a.m., the sorting process was well under way.

This is a pretty experienced group. Only a bit more than a month ago, 88 San Pedranos, businesses and property owners were left homeless by a downtown fire and the local Red Cross, Lions Club and Food Bank seemed to click together in bringing relief to fire victims. Including clothing distribution.

Now they were doing it all over again.

Fortunately, the overwhelming response to the fire left the local service groups with plenty of boxes and bags of clothing donations that never got sorted and distributed — and frankly didn’t need to. They were ready and waiting for Hurricane Earl’s victims. Which is why the Food Bank was urging only donations of non-perishable food and bedding this time. (Still needed, by the way.)

The Food Bank’s Brittney O’Daniel is spearheading an effort to raise $20,000 for lumber, zinc (roofing), nails etc. to rebuild homes of 49 families in San Mateo “half-destroyed” by Hurricane Earl. Read about it here.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, as we sorted out clothing for hurricane victims — and the many fire victims who are still trying to recover — a second gathering was taking place in the Lion’s Den.

The funds raised for the Middle Street fire victims were about to be distributed by the Red Cross, Lions Club, National Emergency Management Organization and San Pedro officials.

But not without some drama. Read the rest of this entry »

Lessons from Earl: No. 1, Not all disasters are alike

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Grand Caribe Resort on Sunday morning, Aug. 6, 2016.
A photographer stops to capture the sunrise and battered but still stately dock at Grand Caribe Resort on Sunday morning, Aug. 6, 2016.

When almost an entire block on Middle Street in San Pedro went up in flames in June — leaving 66 people homeless and a number of businesses crippled or wiped out — the whole world responded with unconditional generosity.

Certainly the whole of Ambergris Caye did.

Scores of volunteers stepped in to help clear away debris. They didn’t ask which rubble belonged to homes and which to businesses. The amount of clothing and food donated could be calculated in tonnage and by the size of the hearts of the people on Ambergris Caye.

The San Pedro Food Bank is looking for volunteers to help

sort and distribute clothing to Hurricane Earl victims!

Report to the Lions Den, downtown San Pedro,

at 9 a.m. on Tuesday.

Barges and planes brought in even more aid from the mainland.

A significant amount of cash was raised in numerous and imaginative ways. Nobody designated their dollars to go to specific people or businesses.

People just gave — time, money, food, clothing, shelter.

Hurricane Earl is different.

Or it seems that way. Read the rest of this entry »

Video of flooding on Macal and Mopan rivers in San Ignacio

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Drone catches aerial view of flooding in San Ignacio Town, Bullet Tree and surrounding areas in the Cayo District from Hurricane Earl, posted by Victor Castillo.

 

Heredia’s take on the damage from Hurricane Earl . . . and more (updated)

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Before and after shots of San Pedro’s waterfront from Bryce Jon Peterson, manager of the newly named Island Tackle Bar & Grill. That’s the former Tackle Box, in the foreground of the picture. Island Tackle’s grand opening was delayed by Hurricane Earl and now must be delayed again for repairs.

* * * * *      * * * * *      * * * * *

As many as 400 San Pedro residents sought refuge in the town’s three shelters during the Category 1 hurricane Earl, Tourism Minister Manuel Heredia Jr. told Channel 7 News Belize.
The minister, who also serves as San Pedro’s NEMO chairman, added that there were “about 6 homes that were totally destroyed and another 3 or 4 that were extensively damaged.”

Heredia told Channel 7 that the “obvious” damage was seaside where  “practically 90% of the piers are either gone or extensively damaged. The dive shops, likewise, I would believe that it’s only two or three that are standing, but not in a very good shape also. Beach erosion was terrible over here.”

7News also reports that some northern resorts, including Costa Blue, X’tan Ha and Saphire Beach have closed temporarily for repairs.

 

Ministry of Agriculture puts Earl losses at $100 million

Earl’s toll on Belize’s economy is over $100 million, Jose Alpuche, Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Agriculture, told Amandala today.

“What we have right now indicates $100 million worth of damage, because when we factor in the main affected subsectors – bananas, corn, and vegetables—corn, as I had said, was in the region of $49 million worth of losses, bananas will probably be within the region of about $40 million, and the rest takes us over $100 million in damages,” Alpuche said.

Read more here.

Tropic Air offers 50% off domestic fares through August 14

Tropic Air has responded to the aftermath of Hurricane Earl by cutting airfares in half because ” it was important to us that we make sure people can get where they need to go quickly in order to rebuild,” said John Greif III, president of the regional airline.

The offer will last through Aug. 14 and includes flights to all Belize destinations, except Belize International Airport.

“The task of rebuilding has already started in earnest, and we are eager to support this effort,” according to a Tropic Air press statement.

“We needed to do our part,”  added Greif.

The discount can be applied to travel booked online at tropicair.com using promotional code: D50AUG. Tickets can also be booked at any of Tropic Air terminal or through the reservations department at 226-2012/2626 or reservations@tropicair.com

Tropic Air travels within Belize to Belize City Municipal, San Ignacio, Belmopan, Corozal, Caye Caulker, Dangriga, Placencia, Punta Gorda and San Pedro.

At last, a view of damages from up north

San Pedro Scoop Blogger Rebecca Coutant has posted a report and pictures of Hurricane Earl’s damage, starting at X’tan Ha Resort and traveling to points south.

As we feared, the damage up north mirrors what we have experienced in San Pedro.

“X’tan Ha Resort, her dock, dive shop, bar and beach took a beating,” reports Rebecca. Additionally, where possible, she has added “before” photos of some of the damaged docks, palapas and resort properties.

As a bonus, Rebecca was able to photograph the swollen rivers on the mainland when she flew home from San Ignacio. She had been evacuated from the Chiquibil Forest Natural Reserve ahead of the hurricane, but was forced to sit out the storm in San Ignacio.

Don’t miss her latest post, The Power of the Surge, here.

Turtleman's House. Photo courtesy of Rosemary Ingram Smith.
Turtleman’s House. Photo courtesy of Rosemary Ingram Smith.

An Ambergris Caye classic lost to the storm: Turtleman’s House

Rosemary Ingram Smith reports that on North Ambergris Caye, the Turtleman’s House — an over-the-water cabin that was the subject of many paintings and photographs over the decades — was lost to Hurricane Earl.

“Having a structure over the water in a hurricane area means that you have to accept the loss when it occurs,” she notes.

For the post on the Turtleman’s House and more background, see Rosemary’s Facebook post here.