Friday, August 5, 2016

8-3 to 8-4-2016 Hurricane Earl hits Belize

Tropical Storm Earl, which was predicted to become a hurricane, and, indeed, did become a
Category 1 Hurricane, was headed for Belize. Many models showed it landing around Dangriga,
which is only about 10 miles north of Hopkins, so everyone was preparing for the worst. We took
everything off the front porch and cleared the yard of anything that could become flying debris.
We closed all the windows tight, turned off anything electric, and headed over to our friends'
concrete house because they were insistent we stay the night there.

Everything from the front porch and yard had to go inside.

It was gloomy all day, but not as rainy as we expected. Plus, it was eerily still until later in the evening.

We got to Mark's around 5pm. We kept monitoring the weather forecasts, and it became apparent that Hurricane Earl had
shifted north a little and was set to hit Belize City.  So, the winds were not coming from the east (from the ocean) like
everyone expected. Instead, they came from the west, and nobody boarded up their windows on that side. Anyway, because of
the west winds we were able to view much of the storm from Mark's Bamboo Bar.

It didn't rain nearly as much as everyone expected, and the winds didn't really pick up until later in the night. We waited
inside, watching the weather and playing marathon Triominoes. Of course, you can't hear much inside a concrete house, so we
kept going outside and huddling in a pretty protected alcove so we could see what was happening (some rain, heavy winds,
limbs down). We were all shocked to have power for as long as we did - it finally went out around 12:30 am or so. At around
1:30 am we finally all called it quits and tried to get some sleep.

This is how things looked at around 7 am Thursday morning. (Just downed limbs and leaves everywhere, but no major
damage, which, thankfully, is what most of the village reported. I guess there were a couple of porch awnings torn off and
small palapas blown down, but no houses hit by trees or flattened or anything, and NO flooding.)

The conch shells around this palm tree mark where a big turtle had come ashore and laid eggs on Father's Day.

These palm trees had been recently transplanted and didn't have a chance to get fully settled
in before the hurricane, so they were uprooted some but can probably still be saved.

The west side of the house, where the winds hit hardest. Some rain came in under the bottom
window, but only a towels worth - not bad at all!

By 11:30 am Mark had a cleanup crew over at his house.

They were fast, hard-workers.

Mark making the Bamboo Bar a bar again.

By 12:45 pm, not even an hour and a half later, the place was looking back to normal.

The sea was dead calm - no breeze whatsoever.
It was a very hot day, so we cooled off in the neighbors' new pool.

Later that night we went to the Lucky Lobster because they had a generator to provide power, and it meant a meal that we
didn't have to cook without power or try to clean up without water. Everyone had the same idea, because it was PACKED!
We had fun, and while we were at the restaurant the power came back on! The entire crowd cheered at once! (We honestly
thought it would be at least a day or two before we had power again, but Belize is always full of surprises.) 

Back at the wood house where we are staying there was also no damage. We did find a few
places where sawdust had fallen inside (remnants, we guess, from when the place was built that
got blown out of the crevices), and there were hundreds of wings from the termites that flew in and
shed their wings. (This is just one corner of the bathroom.) Looks like now we're on termite patrol.

This enormous moth was also resting on our front porch.  Maybe this is where he rode out the storm? It would have been on
the more protected side of the house...
Hopkins was very fortunate to be spared any major damage or flooding (although the rivers haven't carried away all the rains from the mountains yet), but other parts of Belize were not so lucky. Our hearts go out to those in Belize City and the nearby cayes that got pummeled. Major flooding, plus homes, businesses and docks gone!

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