Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hurricane Dean Arrives

Diane and I decided, perhaps foolishly, to weather the impending Hurricane Dean in our house in Belize. Our house is constructed with steel reinforced concrete so I thought we were safe. The closer the storm came to Belize, the larger it looked on the satellite images that Diane and I were continually monitoring on the Accuweather web site. On the same site, I could see the projected path of the storm and it definitely appeared as if it was moving in a West-Northwest direction toward Southern Mexico. The storm was projected to hit land very early in the morning on Tuesday August 21, 2007. Everything appeared safe for us.

Around 2:30PM on Monday August 20th, we lost electric power and access to the internet. I was concerned about power surges when the power went back on after the storm so I shut off the main circuit breakers.

Diane and I were sitting on our porch as we noticed large dark clouds in the eastern sky. The winds started to gust and the large trees close to our house swayed and creaked. The sky darkened quickly. Thoughts of the satellite image of a storm larger than the whole Yucatan Peninsula ran through my mind. I thought maybe I needed to board up my windows! Then I looked at the two large palm trees within 100 feet of our house with large coconuts dangling in the wind. I thought to myself, in a strong wind they may behave as cannon balls! About that time, Diane had located our portable FM/Shortwave radio.

We were happy to find that the local FM radio station was still broadcasting. This radio station provided an outstanding service. It was taking calls from citizens all over Belize. Important announcements, evacuation instructions, up to the minute storm information, storm preparation instructions and messages. These messages were from all over the world. Some were general messages wishing the country of Belize good luck. Some were messages to individuals from a distant family member in another country. The announcers did an amazing job. We even heard the head of NEMO (National Emergency Management Organization) and the Prime Minister addressing the people. This was one station that apparently everyone was tuned to throughout the night.

After achieving some type of contact with the outside world, a lot of my apprehension concerning our safety vanished. The wind started to die down around 5:00PM. We continued to listen to the station until we were satisfied that the storm would not hit near us and then went to bed. Throughout the night we heard the wind gusting. The gusting would continue for only a few minutes and then it would die down. We awoke unscathed! We experienced no property damage. We also received very little rain considering the size of the storm.

The many emails my wife and I received from concerned friends and family were certainly heart warming and very much appreciated.

Luckily for us, this storm was uneventful. There are some people on the islands and in northern Belize that did not make out so well. There has been a lot of property damage in these areas. There are also problems with water, sewage, and electric service. Hopefully, all of these problems will soon be corrected and everyone will be able to get back to life as usual in Belize. According to the latest report, not a single person was killed or severely injured as a result of this storm.

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