Belize Red Cross Races Against Time to Feed Those Isolated by Hurricane Keith

Report
from American Red Cross
Published on 09 Oct 2000
Belize City, Belize: It's been nearly a week since Hurricane Keith hovered over Belize, but the worst effects are yet to be felt by thousands living in villages scattered throughout the northeast portion of the country. The 32 inches of rain Hurricane Keith dumped on Belize has yet to crest in the rivers that stretch from the country's interior to the Caribbean Sea. Bridges and dirt roads are washed-out, isolating 15 villages that run along the Belize River. Public transportation between Belize City and the affected villages has all but ceased preventing many from commuting to work and keeping out trucks that distribute food to local grocery stores. Hurricane Keith's heavy rains overflowed latrines, contaminated wells and damaged October's corn harvest. Cooking gas supplies are running out and many villagers who can no longer boil well water are drinking rainwater that falls from the roofs of homes.
The Belize Red Cross, with assistance from the American Red Cross and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, is racing against time to provide food to 15 villages isolated by floodwaters. In two days, the rivers will crest, forcing more families to evacuate their homes for the safety of shelters run by the National Emergency Management Organization, the Belize government organization responsible for evacuations and sheltering in times of disasters.

Nicholas Beizder is a 72-year-old farmer living in Bermuda Landings, a village of 700 about an hour away from Belize City and about 200 yards from the Belize River that is steadily rising. Hurricane Keith destroyed Beizder's corn crops, but he remains hopeful that the plantain, banana and rice crops will not spoil.

"There's no food here in the stores. My wife and I plan to boil plantains until the flood waters are gone and food trucks can come again," said Beizder.

The Red Cross, with help from the Peace Corps and two United States Army black hawk helicopters, delivered rice, corn, sugar, salt, cooking oil, toilet paper and medications to Bermuda Landings. Local villagers trained by the Belize Red Cross will distribute the supplies to 700 affected families living in Bermuda Landings and the three neighboring villages of Flowens Bank, Double Head Cabbage and Rancho Dolores.

------------------

All American Red Cross disaster assistance is free, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013.

The American Red Cross is dedicated to helping make families and communities safer at home and around the world. The Red Cross is a volunteer-led humanitarian organization that annually provides almost half the nation's blood supply, trains nearly 12 million people in vital life-saving skills, mobilizes relief to victims in more than 60,000 disasters nationwide, provides direct health services to 2.5 million people, assists international disaster and conflict victims in more than 20 countries, and transmits more than 1.4 million emergency messages to members of the Armed Forces and their families. If you would like information on Red Cross services and programs please contact your local Red Cross.

=A9 Copyright 2000, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.

American Red Cross:
All American Red Cross disaster assistance is provided at no cost, made possible by voluntary donations of time and money from the American people. The Red Cross also supplies nearly half of the nation's lifesaving blood. This, too, is made possible by generous voluntary donations. To help the victims of disaster, you may make a secure online credit card donation or call 1-800-HELP NOW (1-800-435-7669) or 1-800-257-7575 (Spanish). Or you may send your donation to your local Red Cross or to the American Red Cross, P.O. Box 37243, Washington, D.C. 20013. To donate blood, please call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE (1-800-448-3543), or contact your local Red Cross to find out about upcoming blood drives. © Copyright, The American National Red Cross. All Rights Reserved.