Posted: Monday, November 7, 2022. 6:34 pm CST.
By Aaron Humes: This evening, Prime Minister John Briceño granted a joint press briefing on the latest on relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Lisa.
The Category One storm landed about ten miles south of Belize City last Wednesday afternoon, greatly impacting the Old Capital more than initially expected.
In addition to the efforts of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), emergency funds to all area representatives, including members of the Opposition United Democratic Party (UDP), were issued through the constituency development fund, addressing urgent needs including food, water, and some quick repairs to homes. The P.M. indicated that the funds were issued according to the level of damage in each constituency – meaning some got more than others.
The P.M., who both flew over and walked through the disaster zone himself along with Minister of Foreign Affairs Eamon Courtenay, other City area representatives, and out-of-town Mayors from San Ignacio, Orange Walk, and San Pedro Town, said the trips offered different views but the same “heartbreaking” perspective: “You can see the destruction that took place, especially in our most vulnerable areas of Southside Belize City, and it breaks my heart to see what happened to some of these people, their small homes being knocked down and washed away, the amount of debris on the ground that we have to clean up.” An estimated 250 truckloads were cleared in the first two days with the assistance of the above-mentioned town councils and others.
An initial “guess-estimate” of damage totals US$10 million, although a house-to-house survey by the Ministry of Infrastructure Development and Housing is ongoing. This includes rebuilding the first five miles of the Philip Goldson Highway up to the Haulover Bridge; repairs to roofs on three buildings in the Supreme Court judicial complex and some schools including Belize Elementary/High School. An official document was immediately prepared by Minister Courtenay and National NEMO Coordinator Colonel (Retired) Shelton Defour.
Damage to the agricultural industry is less severe, limited mostly to stand-over cane owned by Santander Sugar and some crop fields in Cayo and Orange Walk. Belize has already been pledged international support by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Taiwan, and the United States.
The Prime Minister saluted the public utilities – Belize Electricity Limited (BEL), Belize Water Services Limited (BWS), and Belize Telemedia Limited (BTL)/Speednet/SMART for restoring services as quickly as they have to most of the affected areas.
He also called on the business community to make donations in support of relief efforts, including Lord Michael Ashcroft who was seen walking the City’s streets over the weekend.
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