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No Shame in Preparing for a Hurricane That Never Came

hurricane beryl threatens belize

When Hurricane Beryl threatened Belize, it stirred a wave of anxiety and anticipation throughout its trajectory from the Atlantic Ocean to the Caribbean. I’ve never seen San Pedro as prepared as it was for Beryl, and I think that’s because we had ample time to brace ourselves. Islanders have learned the hard way from past hurricanes like Keith and Earl, which caused significant damage to Ambergris Caye.

There’s absolutely no shame in preparing for a storm, even if it doesn’t strike us. I saw many comments on social media criticizing people for rushing to get ready for a potential hit. Some called the preparations unnecessary and accused forecasters of exaggerating. But from the beginning, projections indicated that Beryl was headed our way. At various points during its path through the Caribbean, landfall was predicted dangerously close to Ambergris Caye.

hurricane beryl threatens belize
hurricane beryl threatens belize

Hurricane Beryl Was No Joke

Sanpedranos took notice and started paying close attention. Hurricanes are unpredictable; just ask anyone in San Pedro who lived through Hurricane Keith in 2000 and Earl in 2016. We can’t take them for granted, even when it seems like they might not strike us directly. It’s always best to be prepared rather than regretful afterward. There’s nothing wrong with being extra cautious.

Just look at Hurricane Beryl, it epitomized this unpredictability. On Monday, it strengthened over warm seas and favorable winds, speeding through the Caribbean and becoming the earliest Category 4 or 5 hurricane on record. It rapidly intensified from a tropical storm to a major hurricane, with wind speeds increasing by 95 mph in less than two days. It almost became the earliest major hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic and restrengthened to Category 3 just before landfall.

Island on the Move

Islanders prepared like never before and very early on. Belize’s National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) and the Meteorological Department were very informative, keeping residents updated on Beryl’s development and track. The San Pedro Town Council did an amazing job reaching out to the public, monitoring stores to prevent price gouging, maintaining garbage collection until the last minute, addressing construction sites to remove debris, coordinating with NEMO, ensuring smooth voluntary evacuations, and much more.

hurricane beryl threatens belize
Boat owners did not hesitate to secure their vessels

Homes and businesses were boarded up, and even though we expected more buildings to be secured, people were preparing. Businesses closed in a timely manner, allowing employees to get ready themselves and evacuate if necessary. There was no need for a curfew, and even shelters were opened for people who felt their homes were not strong enough to withstand a hurricane. It was reported that around 5,000 islanders decided to evacuate.

It’s going to be a long season; but one thing that I know is that Sanpedranos are resilient and hard working. We have learned from past experiences and taken that knowledge to be better prepared and know when it’s time to start moving and even evacuate when needed. We pray for our Caribbean brothers and sisters and our neighbors in Mexico who were devastated by Beryl. If you can, please donate whatever you can to them, we know how it feels after a hurricane has destroyed your home.

hurricane beryl threatens belize
This morning’s view at Central Park
hurricane beryl threatens belize
Resident at Grand Caribe posted her view of this morning’s sunrise

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