Saturday, May 25, 2024

Heavy Rains and flooded streets frustrate Ambergris Caye residents


Constant rains have battered Belize over the last several days, making quite an impact on the streets of San Pedro Town. Many of the roads within subdivisions around town have turned into waterways, many of which are impassable. Local authorities are yet to respond to pleas for help.
According to residents in areas like as DFC, San Pablo, Escalante, San Pedrito and San Juan, this an ongoing issue every year. “A permanent solution should be put into place by the local authorities… they know this happens every year,” one resident from DFC told The Sun. “I have noticed that a couple businesses have been terribly affected by the large pools of water in front of their establishments.”
One resident in San Pedrito shared his concern about the areas that do not have proper sewer systems. “This is a serious health issue. Most of the water that runs onto the streets is most likely contaminated with human feces from septic tanks,” he said.
In some parts of these subdivisions, residents have no choice but to walk through stagnant water and mud in order to get their day to day activities done. Some of them say that taxis are refusing to pick up people in some areas, and so they are forced to find their way to the main roads for rides. “No one from the Town Council has even come to see how dire the situation is at this moment, or how they could help,” said a resident of the Escalante subdivision.
The San Pedro Sun made several attempts to reach Mayor Daniel Guerrero but were told that he was on sick leave. In the past, The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) has simply indicated that nothing can be done during the rainy season. In an interview with The San Pedro Sun in December of 2015, Mayor Guerrero himself said that it would make no sense to fix roads during the rainy period because they would have to back and fix them again. During that time, island residents were dealing with deplorable street conditions due to heavy rains. Despite works done on the damaged streets when the rain stopped, when the rainy season returned the following year, the infrastructure was no match for the initial showers. Mayor Guerrero made no mention of preventative measures for the annual, expected heavy rains. October is considered to be the rainiest month of the year in Belize, thus, residents believe that the roads should be in good shape so as to avoid a severe impact during the rainy season.
Mayoral Candidate for the People’s United Party, long-time island resident Andre Perez believes that a permanent solution is urgently needed to eradicate the problem. “At this time there is no reason to blame the weather, we cannot continue like this every year,” said Perez. “If we are to move forward we need to do better than this and is starts with good leadership. There are approximately nine miles of street that need urgent attention, which begins at the street leading to the marina area, into subdivisions of DFC, Escalante, San Pablo, San Pedrito, San Juan and then into Boca del Rio.” According to Perez, about $11 million dollars will be needed for road repairs or the building of new ones.
Perez believes that even though it sounds like a lot of money, the job can be done. “The Town Council generates about $5 million dollars per year. Combine that with getting consolidation and looking at financial institutions that could also finance this project. We also need Central Government’s intervention to assist us in providing funding or show how we are to get these funds,” said Perez.
In addition, Perez stated the investment in the road infrastructure is mandatory if the island wants to continue being the prime tourism destination in the country. “We cannot continue in the tourism industry with these types of streets,” he said. Perez further stated that this is one of the main promises of his campaign. “During the first year upon being elected, this will be our main goal. Apart from doing the job of putting everything in order, restoring a good accounting system in the council, we at the same time will be preparing to get the roads going,” Perez noted.
After over a week of non-stop rain, on Wednesday, October 25th a cold front brought the countrywide showers to a halt. This is a relief for many island residents who have been affected by the flooding in their respective areas, however, it may take several days before the stagnant waters go away. Many hope that by next week, the SPTC steps in to evaluate the damage of the rains and begins to address the most affected areas.
The heavy rains also caused major floods in other parts of the country. Main schools and businesses in the north and south of the country affected by the water had to close. Bridges in the Cayo District were closed due to the flooding. The Chalillo Dam in the Mountain Pine Ridge area was shut down as well. While in Belize City several main streets became deep waterways. No one was reported injured during the deluge that was caused by a tropical wave passing over the country.

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