After hurricane Iris struck Belize on Monday Oct. 8th an humanitarian relief operation has been organized as a joint effort led by SMOM Ambassador to Belize, Thomas
F. Carney, Jr., which included support from the Honduran Association SMOM, AmeriCares, the American Association SMOM, the Honduran Government, the Belize Government and the British Expeditionary Forces in Belize.
Hurricane Iris, described as a Force 4 hurricane packing 130 mph winds, devastated a good portion of the country’s southern region. The strong winds levelled many villages, townships, and hundreds of acres of lowland forest and crops. Fortunately, water damages were minimal and most of the country’s infrastructure remains intact. Initial estimates place the number of homeless between 8,000 and 10,000.
The joint effort began with the airlift of some 10,000 lbs of relief supplies into Belize City via airplane from the USA, 1,200 lbs of medical supplies from Honduras, land transportation to the staging area in Punta Gorda, some seven hours by car south of Belize City, and subsequent sorties by helicopter to 11 different villages in the southwest of Belize between Oct. 13 and 14.
From the staging area, approximately 7,000 lbs of relief supplies were rapidly distributed (including tents, tarpaulins, mattresses, rice, beans, flour, canned goods, etc.) to the more remote villages in the disaster area, while the Belize Defence Forces and British Expeditionary Forces arranged for land transportation for the rest of the supplies. The air operation also helped the BDF/BEF verify the initial damage assessments and gather information required to prioritize further land-based operations.