Hurricane Richard - Posted October 27, 2010

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

We survived our first Hurricane.  Hurricane Richard was considered a category 2.  They are ranked 1-6, six being the worst, so we are grateful it wasn't higher on the scale.  Our mission president, President Lopez and his wife, and Elder Martino (area presidency) and his wife had flown into Belize City for district conference.  Because of the storm warning, the last 2 days of meetings got cancelled, and our important visitors flew to their homes in San Salvador, and Guatemala City early.

Misson zone conference.  This photo shows only half the missionaries that attended.
Sunday church was a short sacrament meeting only with both our Belize City and Cinderella branches meeting together.  It was announced that a bus had been hired to take those wishing to leave their homes to Orange Walk City.  Several families went on the bus.  

We took the 6 young elders that were in Belize City to their apartment to get overnight things, then drove to our house.  We waited out the storm there.  We had extra food prepared anyway, as we had thought we would be having our conference visitors to dinner. 

Desiree's home was flooded, as were many other members'.

About five in the evening, the storm got strong enough to knock out the electricity and water .  The missionaries are each supposed to have a working flashlight in their emergency packs.  Only one elder had one, and its batteries and bulb didn’t work.  Elder Pattee and I had a small solar powered flashlight, but it was a bit dim.  We also had one large candle, so we got by fine.  The elders used their cell phone lights to get ready for bed. 

The storm raged throughout the night.  Strong winds and heavy rains beat down upon our house, but it is well built, so we had no problem.   By morning the storm was gone.  A large mahogany tree out back was toppled, and some roof tiles were in the driveway. 

Flooded streets were everywhere.

Our landlady was sad to see her Mahogany tree uprooted in the backyard.

Elders and roof tiles

After a cold breakfast of bread, cereal, and juice, we took the missionaries home.  We saw flooded streets, trees uprooted, fences and signage down.  Many utility poles and wires were down or dangling.  We saw roofs partially blown away.   

A television station had 3 of its towers blown down.   

About noon we took the branch president of Belize City Branch, President Gordon, around in the van to see some of the families in the branch he was concerned about.  Deseree (mother of Elder Warren Card) was in need of help, as her house got flooded from high water.  The rain also came through the roof and walls.  Everything was soaking wet.  We saw that flooding caused problems for other branch members’ homes, as well. 
Many coconut palms were uprooted.

Later we saw a house that was totally collapsed.  The owner was sitting in the midst of the wreckage warding off any would be looters.  It was a sad sight.  We didn't have our camera with us, but I don't think I would have had the heart to take a photo.  It is a picture I will carry in my mind for a very long time.

Many many people here live in just shacks or shanties.  There are gaps in the walls and roofs.  The water surged up so high that their homes were flooded by water coming from up underneath, and through the walls, and roofs.  Because destroyed shacks don't add up to much monetarily, total damage costs due to the storm won't be as much as if this had happend in the U.S.   But the cost of human suffering is great. 

More downed trees.

Now that things are drying out, everything feels like a giant saunna.  I've never experienced such humidity.  We were among the first of those to get our electricity back.  It was only off 24 hours.  But then it was off for several hours again today.  As of this afternoon our young missionaries were still without electricity.  Most places in the city did not get power back as soon as we did.

 Sorry the photos aren't better, but a few of the ones we thought would be good, (missing roofs) didn't turn out at all.  Also, we got a new internet hookup last week, and it makes attaching photos a very slow process.   

Missionary work kind of came to a standstill here this week, but we did give training to a perpetual education fund hopeful, and today Elder Pattee was able to helped Sister Patnett get 26 names ready for her to take to the temple.   
We are glad things are starting to get back to normal.


Troy Pattee said...

Wow. What an incredible thing to experience. But there are no better people to have down there helping out than the two of you. I had wanted to ask you what the conditions were like for you as it was happening, but the Skype connection was so bad. We're so thankful that you're safe, and I'm glad for the people of Belize that you're there to help them.

Evie said...

You're having quite an experience. We watched that storm with much interest. I told Elder Dalebout that it was going right through Belize. We're glad that you're safe and sound and that work is picking up again.

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