Hurricane Mitch

Corozal makes ready for Hurricane Mitch

Corozal was spared the wrath of Hurricane Mitch at the end of October, 1998. However, many of our brothers and sisters in other parts of Central America were devastated. Many thousands were killed and nearly a million lost their homes.

You can imagine many residents of these countries boarding up their windows as we did, and taking other precautions, but not knowing the fury that approached or how long it would stay.

Helping Each Other

As we walked around Corozal Town, we saw many people getting ready, and many Corozaleños were helping each other. There was a real sense of reaching out to those in need, making it through this together.

That feeling of brotherhood extended to helping other parts of Central America. At Corozal Community College and Corozal Junior College, faculty and students donated to aid for Honduras, Nicaragua, and other areas severely attacked by Mitch.

Emergency Preparedness

Corozal Community College was one of several emergency shelters in the Corozal District. The Corozal Junior College building served as an emergency hospital. The Belize Defense Force (BDF) brought in beds and hospital equipment, and provided life-saving services country-wide during this crisis.

Corozal and Belize were adequately prepared for a Category 1 hurricane. We might have survived a Category 3. But no preparation would be enough for the destruction that Mitch brought to our southern neighbors.

Businesses Prepare for Mitch

Store owners and other commercial interests in downtown Corozal did what they could. They boarded up windows and other things to try to protect against high winds, but at only a few feet above sea level, they knew they were in danger if there was any significant storm surge.

In other parts of Central America there were whole communities where there was little food or other supplies, where 70% of the bridges were washed out, and there simply was no way for food to get in except by helicopter. Fortunately some additional helicopters were provided by the U.S. and others, but help was needed long after.

Many merchants, like Mr. José Gongora, were moving their stock to higher ground. Fortunately, there are several hills around Corozal Town that are at least 20-30 feet above sea level. This is one reason why the area was important to the ancient Maya people.

Some Rely on Faith

Workers could not get materials to protect the beautiful stained glass windows in St. Francis Xavier Roman Catholic Church. Fortunately they were spared Mitch's wrath. You can't see their beauty in this photo, but there is one on each of the four sides of the church. When you see the beautiful spiritual and cultural treasures of Corozal District, you realize how lucky we were, and how important it is to share our gratitude with those much less fortunate.

For additional information, try Ambergris Caye's Hurricane Information. Marty Casado did an excellent job of keeping up with Hurricane Mitch and its threat to Ambergris Caye and the rest of Belize.

Printed from (Hurricane Mitch)