Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Hurricane Ernesto Update

Hurricane Ernesto

Update for Hurricane Ernesto:

There is now a 10:00pm tonite until 10:00am in the morning curfew in place while the storm passes through Belize.  Only officials and workers that are on duty will be allowed out at this time.  No alcohol sales from noon until.  The San Pedro water taxis and Tropic Air discontinued services today at noon.  However, international flights into Belize have not been cancelled as of yet.  Evacuation is still on a voluntary basis.

More information from Tacogirl's Blog.

Rapid intensification of the storm has not happened yet but is still expected. We will experience sustained winds of 55 knots or 65 mph. Currently the Caribbean sea temperature is 29 degrees, 1 degree less than yesterday. It is expected that the storm will intensify before it makes landfall and is currently traveling West North West and will turn a bit south. All computer storm models are showing in sync with each other.

Time of Ernesto’s arrival will be within within 24 hours, winds will pick up to 80 mph by 6am and storm intensification will stop by 8am. Hurricane Ernesto is currently 250 miles east of Belize 180 miles away from Roatan Honduras. Ernesto will affect Honduras, the entire coast of Belize, Chetumal, east coast of Yucatan and end up at Bay of Campeche by Wed afternoon.

3-5 inches of rain is expected over a 24 hour period and will be more extreme over mountains on the mainland of Belize. Waves 2-4 ft over normal, Corozal may see more of the storm surge. At 8am during high tide we can expect up to 6 ft of waves. Night will be less as tide will be going out.

Low laying areas such as DFC, San Pedrito, Elliot subdivision and San Mateo will need to evacuate and find safer accommodations, 50% of San Mateo should not stay put and head to a shelter center by this afternoon. Those in safer houses need to make sure they have potable drinking water and adequate supplies. In San Mateo there is a risk pipes breaking and water contamination. Shelters at Shalom, Living Word Church and San Pedro High School will be open and taking people from 2:00pm -6pm. Strict shelter rules, NO candles or matches at shelters, NO pets, and bare minimum of stuff. People are requested to stay with friends and family first and use shelter only in the event they have no where else to go.

Lara Goldman HURRICANE TIP: Roll up towel in bottom of large trash bag. Place bag OUTSIDE door, pull opening of bag under the door so that the roll is flush with the bottom of the OUTSIDE of the door. Pull taunt. The water will press the towel and bag to the bottom outside of the door forming a seal against water. Putting on the inside of the door doesn’t do diddly. Lesson learned and tested to success in Hurricane Dean :)

Next NEMO meeting at 12:00 pm. If there is anything new to report I will update in this post, if you do not see any further updates consider it no news is good news and everyone is doing what they are supposed to be doing and on track to keeping safe and sound.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Ernesto Our First Hurricane in Belize

Tropical Storm Ernesto will be our first experience with a hurricane since our move to Belize.  So far the forecast is that it will be a category 1 hurricane when it comes ashore in Belize.  A category 1 can bring winds of 74-95 mph.  Everyone on the island for the most part is going about as usual.  Some businesses are closing tomorrow until the storm passes.  There is supposed to be some pretty gusty winds with this storm, so Bill is getting his pepper plants inside and protected from the storm.

I thought I would pass along some hurricane evacuation tips that I found on Tacogirls Blog.

Tropic Air Hurricane evacuation Tips:

In the event that we are facing a hurricane, Tropic Air will begin Evacuation Service immediately.

Tropic’s goal is to evacuate their customers as safely and efficiently as possible. Please help Tropic Air make your family evacuation plan safe and efficient by keeping the following tips in mind:

1.  A hurricane evacuation will begin when a storm is declared within the Hurricane Watch.
2.  Tickets are issued on a first come, first served basis.
3.  Please arrive at the Tropic Air with your luggage, two small bags per person, prepared to      evacuate.
4.  Owners of large pets that require kenneling must evacuate pets during the hurricane watch phase of the threat to San Pedro. No pet space will be available during the height of an emergency evacuation (Hurricane Warning).
5.  Please remember that cargo is on a space available basis, and over sized items will not be sent during this time.
6.   During an emergency evacuation Tropic Air will evacuate as many people as possible. Sometime during the Red Flag stage, Tropic will be forced to stop flying.

NEMO Hurricane Information:

Hurricane – A low pressure, large-scale weather system, which derives its energy from latent heat of condensation of water vapor over warm tropical seas, (may have a diameter of 93 to 621 miles, with sustained winds exceeding 116 mph, near the center with still higher gusts). (PAHO, 1992).

Hurricane Categories and Intensity Scale
Numbers range from one to five based on the hurricane’s present intensity which gives an estimate of the potential flooding and damages to property form a hurricane is as follows:

One: Winds 119-153 km h1 (74-95 mph)
No real damage to building structures; damage primarily to un-anchored mobile home, shrubbery and trees.

Two: Winds 154-177 km h1 (96-110 mph) Some roofing, door and window damage to buildings; considerable damage to vegetation, expose mobile homes, and piers. Small craft in unprotected anchorage’s break moorings.

Three: Winds 178-209 km h1 (111-130 mph) Some structural damage to small residences and utility buildings, with a minor amount of curtain wall failures, mobile home are destroyed.

Four: Winds 210-249 km h1 (131-155 mph) More extensive curtain wall failures with some complete roof structure failure on small residences.

Five: Winds greater than 249 km h1 (155 mph) Complete roof failure on many residences and industrial buildings, some complete building failures with small utility buildings blown over or away.
The following scale was developed by Saffir and Simpson and is commonly known as the Saffir/Simpson Hurricane Scale (SSH) and was submitted by the National Meteorological Service.

Category 1 – Storm surge – up to 5 feet of water
Category 2 – Storm surge – 9 to 12 feet of water
Category 3 – Storm surge – 15 to 18 feet of water
Category 4 – Storm surge – 18 to 21 feet of water
Category 5 – Storm surge – 18 to 24 feet of water

Adapted from Health Sector Hurricane management plan 2000

Hurricane Warnings-The system of hurricane warnings is divided into four phases.

Phase I – Preliminary – One Red Flag – 21 N 80 W This Phase is declared by the Prime Minister after a tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane moves into or develops anywhere in the quadrant south of 21 degrees North Latitude and west of 80 degrees west Longitude.

Phase II – Red 1 – One Red Flag with Black Center – 20 N 84 W (24 – 36 hours) This Phase is declared by NEMO when a tropical storm, or hurricane moves into or develops anywhere in the quadrant south of 20 degrees North Latitude and west 84 degrees west Longitude.

Phase III – Red 2 – Two Red Flags with Black Center – 20 N 85 W (Likely to strike in a few hours)
This Phase is declared by NEMO when a tropical storm, or hurricane moves into or develops anywhere in quadrant south of 20 degrees North Latitude and west of 85 degrees West Longitude and appears likely to strike the coast of Belize in a matter of hours.

Phase IV – Green – Green Flag ALL Clear (has passed) This Phase is declared by NEMO after a tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane has passed, or no longer poses a threat to Belize and coastal waters.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Humane Animal Eradication Begins in San Pedro

A few weeks ago I blogged about the brutal stray dog eradication by strychnine poisoning by the San Pedro Town Council on July 9th.  Since that time, Bill Milstead with SAGA Humane Society (and my husband) and Dr.Laurie Droke with San Pedro Animal Hospital met with Mayor Daniel Guerrero to stop the eradication by strychnine poisoning after a national out cry from animal lovers about the inhumane process used to control the dog population in San Pedro. 

Mayor Guerrero agreed to stop the inhumane practice but also made it very clear that he is depending upon SAGA to handle the humane eradication of the island dogs in an efficient and timely manner or the town council will authorize the poisoning by strychnine poisoning again.  The first week of August SAGA will begin the process of picking up any stray animals on the streets and will do so on a continuing basis.  Any animal picked up will be held for 3 days.  If the animal has not been sprayed or neutered, SAGA will do so and the fees will be passed on to the owners.   If no one claims the animals, a decision will be made as to the adoptability of the animals and they will either be humanely euthanized or kept a short while longer in hopes of finding a good home for them.   
SAGA is asking for your help by donating, you can contribute by going by SAGA or through the website at www.sagahumanesociety.org.  SAGA is a 501c charity through the United States which makes your donation 100% tax deductible for Americans. 

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday the 13th, 6 Months of Living in Belize and Belizean Betty Friday

Today is Friday the 13th which is considered unlucky in Western superstition and it also marks our 6 month anniversary of living in San Pedro, Belize in Central America.  We flew to Belize on January Friday the 13th, 2012 and I am usually not superstitious, but our trip to Belize in January was definitely a Friday 13th kind of day.  I feel certain today, July Friday the 13th will not be as eventful.  You can read about our January, Friday 13th move to Belize here.

Interesting events that happened on Friday the 13th. (Information obtained from Wikipedia)

  • On October 13, 1307, Templar Grand Master Jacques de Molay and several Templar Knights were arrested by King Phillip of France. Most were eventually tortured to death.
  • On January 13, 1939, the single worst bushfire in Australian history struck Victoria, Australia, claiming 71 lives and causing widespread damage.
  • On March 13, 1964, Kitty Genovese was murdered in Queens, New York. The lack of reaction by her neighbors has been called the bystander effect or "Genovese syndrome"
  • On October 13, 1972, Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 crashed in the Andes. Books and movies told of the survivors' stories.
  • The renowned rapper Tupac Amaru Shakur was pronounced dead on September 13, 1996.
  • On November 13, 1998, Michel Trudeau, son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau was killed in an avalanche in Kokanee Lake, British Columbia
  • On August 13, 2004, Hurricane Charley slammed in to Southwest Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, the strongest hurricane to hit the United States since 1992.
  • An engineering train on the Northern Line of the London Underground became uncoupled and went on a 13-minute journey southbound from Archway station, finally stopping at Warren Street tube station on the West End branch of the line on August 13, 2010. The train in front was forced to skip several stations and was diverted to the City branch of the line.[24]
  • On January 13, 2012, France, Austria, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Italy, Portugal and Spain had their credit ratings downgraded by Standard & Poor's[25][26][27]
  • On January 13, 2012, the luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia sank in front of the island of Isola del Giglio, killing at least thirty-two aboard and injuring 64.[28]
  • North Korean satellite launch attempt Kwangmyŏngsŏng-3 failed on April 13, 2012.
  • The asteroid 99942 Apophis will make a close encounter with Earth, closer than the orbits of communication satellites, on April 13, 2029.[29]
  • On April 13, 2012 at 8:30, an earthquake hit Palermo, Sicily, Italy with a 4.3 magnitude.
  • On April 13, 2012 at 4:00 PM a tornado hit Oklahoma.

Here are some Friday the 13th Belizean Betty pictures.

Betty is learning to write her name.  She is practicing her B's.

Betty started taking gymnastic classes.   Look at that smile.

Betty went to her annual 4th of July parade in Austin.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Brutal Dog Eradication by Strychnine in San Pedro

It should have read "Dogs Beware".


As many of you know, we moved to San Pedro, Belize this past January with our three Siberian Huskies.  They are part of our family and we could have never moved to Belize without them.  Back in the states Bill was on the Board for both CARA (Community Animal Rescue and Adoption) and Mississippi Spay and Neuter.  So naturally one of the first things he wanted to do when he got to Belize was help with SAGA Humane Society.

Our pups love riding around town in the golf cart.


Waiting for their daddy to get home.

In Belize dogs are not always looked at the same way as we do in the states.  Most of the local dogs do have homes and owners.  Most wear collars and all seem to be well fed.  But the dogs are allowed to roam about town and yes defecate on the streets and beaches.   A few weeks ago Bill signed on as the President for Saga and had a meeting with the Mayor of San Pedro about stray dogs running the streets.  The Mayor said he needed something to be done and Bill asked that he work with Saga and try to find a solution. 

We had heard about the way dogs in Belize and other 3rd world countries were poisoned in mass eradication roundups.  The last time this what they call "Bait Strychnine" happened in Belize was about 5 years ago when a mass poisoning eradication project was carried out in Belize City.  The San Pedro Humane Society heard about it and immediately contacted the Town Council and then Mayor Elsa Paz to have a meeting to suspend further eradication of stray dogs for the time being. 

Showing how dogs were poisoned with Strychnine.  (Reef TV)

Fast forward to July 9th, 2012.  Everyone is waking up and checking their facebook page, like we all do.  It has happened again on the streets of San Pedro.  31 dogs were poisoned during the early morning hours with Strychnine laced meat balls.  Yes at around 2:00am, these poor defenseless animals were poisoned and then picked up and thrown in the back of trucks to be taken off and buried somewhere on the island.  This is being done due to the health issues of animal feces.

What is Strychnine and how does it poison its victim.  According to Wikipedia, Strychnine poisoning produces some of the most dramatic and painful symptoms of any known toxic reaction.  Death occurs as a result of respiratory arrest.  Following the ingestion of strychnine, symptoms of poisoning usually appear within 15 to 60 minutes.

There has been a national out cry to the Mayor of San Pedro to stop this cruel and inhumane treatment of animals.  There are ways to humanely euthanize animals.  Saga is more than willing to work with the Mayor and San Pedro Town Council to help with the stray animal problem.  Most of these dogs did have owners and families that cared about them.  Pet owners need to be educated to proper pet ownership and benefits of spay/neuter.  Learn about leash laws and cleaning up behind your pet on the streets and beaches in town.  The biggest and most important things that we can teach the people of Belize is to spay and neuter their pets.  That in itself can help stop the killing of poor and innocent animals.  We just have to work together to find a solution and STOP STRYCHNINE POISONING.

UPDATE:  Today PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) became involved in the issue of Strychnine Poisoning of the animals in San Pedro on July 9th, 2012.  Today at 5:00pm on Belize Reef TV, the Mayor of San Pedro, Daniel Guerrero addressed the issue of Strychnine poisoning of the 31 dogs by the Town Council.  The original plan was to go out every other night for approximately two months and round up and poison about 200 animals.  During his interview today at five, he has agreed to suspend all poisonings and to consult with both Sage Humane Society and the San Pedro Animal Hospital on finding a more humane and ethical way of dealing with the dogs in San Pedro. 


Mayor Danny Guerrero suspends brutal dog eradication. (Reef TV)

Dr. Baptist from SAGA explaining a more humane way to euthanize animals. (Reef TV)

San Pedro Animal Hospital

Saga Humane Society