Belize: Hurricane Eta - DREF Operation Update no. 1 (n° MDRBZ006)

Situation Report
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Description of the disaster Hurricane Eta made landfall on Nicaragua’s shores as a strong Category 4 hurricane on 4 November 2020, causing destruction and excessive rain with a wind speed of 140 mph. Several Central American countries experienced the negative effects of Hurricane Eta, including Belize.

The rains started in Belize on 3 November 2020, increasing in intensity over the 4th and 5th of November. Approximately twenty inches of rainfall, caused severe flooding in the Western District of Cayo and Belize District, including Belize City.

More than 40 communities were affected, mainly along the Mopan, Macal, Belize, and Sibun rivers. In the Cayo District, the Macal and Mopan rivers rose more than 8.8 meters, inundating every village from Arenal to Roaring Creek. Collective Centers were activated on 3 November 2020, to facilitate people living in swampy and low-lying areas. According to the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMO), 60,000 people living along the impacted areas were affected whilst some 5,000 persons were directly impacted.

The floods caused damage to residential property, utilities, farms, and road infrastructure and further added to the vulnerabilities due to COVID-19, which has had a huge effect on the tourism industry, leaving many families with limited income.

Additionally, on 16 November, Hurricane Iota made landfall in Nicaragua, which brought additional rain to Belize and exacerbated the floods in many areas.

Among the hardest-hit communities were Arenal, Benque, Calla Creek, Bullet Tree Falls, Valley of Peace, Santa Familia, Blackman Eddy, Roaring Creek, La Rivera, Bomba, Maskall, Crooked Tree, May Pen, Rancho Dolores, Freetown Sibun, and Lemonal.