Hurricane Earl hits Belize

Published: 5 August 2016 1:50 CET

Hurricane Earl made landfall in Belize in the early hours of Thursday, 4 August, causing severe flooding. After it made landfall near Belize City, Earl was downgraded to a tropical storm, and it is forecast to move over the southern Yucatan Peninsula or northern Guatemala. Maximum sustained winds have decreased to near 50 mph (85 km/h) with higher gusts. Additional weakening is expected as the centre moves over high terrain, and Earl is forecast to weaken to a tropical depression by tonight. 

There is still no detailed information on the extent of the damages due to the fact that the flood waters have yet to recede, and power supply and telecommunications were down in Belize City, making it difficult to get reliable information, especially from outside of the city. 

Preliminary government information reports infrastructure and building damage, many roads and streets are blocked in San Pedro, Caye Caulker, Belize City, and Ladyville, Belize River Valley, Orange Walk, Belmopan and other affected areas. In total, 29 collective centres were opened, and there were reports of 907 people in collective centres as of Thursday. 

The Americas Regional Office of the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) has been in constant coordination with the National Society and, jointly with the American Red Cross, will deploy a team to support Belize Red Cross.

The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) has declared that the priority areas of work should be: Search and Rescue, medical care, sheltering and looking after people affected, clearing of debris along the highways, restoration of utilities, inspection of airports and seaports. 

Based on past hurricane and tropical storms that made landfall in Belize, the IFRC can expect an impact on humanitarian sectors such as water and sanitation, community health particularly on epidemiological surveillance and depending on the wind intensity, damage to housing requiring emergency shelter support. Ongoing evaluations will determine the level of required support for affected vulnerable communities isolated by the mountainous terrain and flooded rivers.