20 Ambergris Caye families displaced
On the evening of July 6th, 20 Ambergris Caye families were displaced by a big fire in the Boca Del Rio area. Of the 80 people who lost their homes, the eldest was 74, and 32 were children from the ages of 6 weeks – 18 years old. At least 4 families have reported being affected by water damage.
Thankfully, it was not worse with all the wood buildings in the area. No one was seriously injured, but 2 were attended to the poly clinic, a baby and a man who hurt his wrist. Most who were left homeless are currently staying with immediate family members and friends. 2 families who had no other option are taking shelter at R.C. school assisted by Mayor Daniel, who was able to borrow beds for them, while San Pedro Town Council has been helping them with food.
The San Pedro Fire Department declared 7 buildings consisting of 20 apartment rooms were completely destroyed. The cause of the fire has not been determined. All of the inhabitants were rentals and none of the buildings were insured. As you will see from the pictures below, there was nothing left beyond ashes, building skeletons and twisted pieces of zinc roofing.
(Above numbers were agreed upon at a meeting in the Mayor’s office yesterday afternoon as most current and official, ages came from the numerical data collected by NEMO in their report sent out this morning.)
My past experience of the devastating Ramon’s Village fire and being salvage crew and housing option due to a friends apartment fire years ago in Toronto could not prepare me for the gravity of what I was about to see. There was no salvaging anything – the fire left the families with only their precious lives and the clothes on their backs. I cannot even begin to imagine what that would feel like.
Various organizations and media met in the Boca Del Rio area just north of San Pedro Town to learn what happened, establish who needed lists of people, and put our thoughts together to see how we can all quickly work together to help the fire victims.
Joy, Omar and I headed to the office to sort out donations that came from Romantic Travel Belize Pack for a Purpose effort that could be used for the families in need. We also had 2 bags of clothing and bedding from J&J laundry.
Items needed for 20 families with a range of 1 – 7 people per household:
- All bedroom supplies
- All kitchen supplies
- All bathroom supplies
- All bedroom supplies
- All cleaning supplies
- All building materials
Male and female, adult and youth, clothing and footwear is all being collected by the Lions club. Please remember everything needs to be in decent condition and ready to wear. We do not want to add the stress of laundry to anyone’s life right now. The Lions Club is also collecting food -this is an area we need lots more of.
San Pedro Red Cross is working with Belize Red Cross to get hygiene kits, blankets, baby kits, clothes and treated mosquito nets. We greatly appreciate NEMO’s help in gathering numerical and name data for all families. This will help speed up Red Cross Headquarters response time in getting supplies flown over from Belize City.
It is important for our community to continue to come together and help everyone recover from this unfortunate tragedy.
The Town Council, Lion’s Club and Red Cross will be doing a combination telethon and radiation at Reef Radio to raise food and funds to assist fire victims rebuilding their homes. Clive Welsh will be doing a tandem promotion on light house Christian Radio to raise awareness and donations.
Please help spread the word and stop by Reef Radio on Wednesday, July 9th from 7:00 AM – 12:00 PM. Our volunteers will be out front of the building on Middle Street taking food and cash donations.
Immediate Call for volunteers needed to help in: spreading the word, collection and distribution tomorrow (Wednesday) from 7:00 AM – 12:00 PM. Please email me contact info and shirt size to tacogirlbelize(at)gmail.com , or just show up at Reef Radio at 6:45 AM.
If you are unable to make a donation today at Lions Club or tomorrow morning at Reef Radio, both Licks Restaurant (on the beach in town) and Banana Beach Resort (south of town) have offered to be food donation and household items drop off places, with both locations having cash donation containers. Remember folks, we need to find enough for 20 families and 80 people to start over again from scratch, all help is much needed and very appreciated.
Omar opted to go home and type our “Pack for a Purpose” inventory list and meet us after we were done. Joy and I went for much needed food at Estel’s, we both had not gotten enough of a substantial meal into us before we were called to action. Always in good time, Omar turned up again right as we were settling the check, and we all headed over to the San Pedro Town Council for our 2:00 PM meeting.
Mayor Danny had set a meeting with NEMO and San Pedro Red Cross to discuss a plan of action and make sure none of us are duplicating efforts. We all agreed the NGO’s need to work together to help the fire victims be able to recover as soon as possible.
San Pedro Lions Club has already started distribution of clothing and food. San Pedro Town Council is handling feeding of the 2 families who are sheltering at R.C. School. Other agencies including The Rotary Club, Social Security and Belize Tourism Board have pledged their assistance when a final report with list of items needed, and the duration for relief which is estimated at 1 month.
The Mayor said his friend, American owner of Belize Huts in San Pablo is willing to temporarily put the 11 rooms up for use by fire victims who do not have an alternative place to go. Water and electricity need to be turned on and accounted for that to make this happen.
The Town Council is on standby and awaiting the green light from the Fire Department to assist with clearing the debris from fire.
It is a very sad thing that happened to so many. I hope we all pause and take a moment not only to appreciate what we have, but to reflect on what was learned from this experience and what can be done better next time in the face of an emergency.