I'm back in the States, and it seems just in time. If you've been following the weather at all, Hurricane Dean is headed straight for Belize, and is expected to make landfall on Tuesday.
One of the folks I worked with sent me the following email, and I wanted to share it with you all:
Dear Family and Friends,
It is Thursday afternoon in San Pedro, and there is a growing sense of anxiety and dread. As of now, 'Dean' is expected to make land here Tuesday morning as a Category 4 Hurricane.
While the storm may shift direction and force, the community is beginning to prepare, as best it can.
Tomorrow afternoon, Mr Freddie, Miss Linda, and Nurse Glenda will decide the last details on how to proceed with securing the school and assisting families in San Mateo.
If the storm is still on course Friday afternoon -
Glenda and I will go into San Mateo with a list of the families known to be at greatest risk, and try to arrange passage to Belize City and then on to family inland or to shelters. We expect that we have enough cash available to move forty or fifty families.
Mr Freddie will have his crew move all computers, school records, and books to the second floor of the Wilsons' home. They will use all plywood and cementboard/drywall to cover windows at the house and school. The computers at the school and residences are being backed up and disks exchanged with folks going different directions in hopes of preserving records.
The windows of the internet cafe from which I am writing are being fitted at this moment with plywood covers. Similar activity goes on up and down the beach.
The sky is beautifully clear, and a strong wind has been blowing since yesterday morning - Jennifer says it sounds like the blizzard winds of her Canadian homeland. We have been able to see large waves crashing over the top of the reef since before dawn Thursday.
Jennifer and Courtney will leave the island early Saturday, and plan to overnight in Belize City before departing early Sunday. I am scheduled to leave Saturday afternoon for BCity/Houston/LA.
Please pray for this community - especially the families of San Mateo, whose homes cannot survive winds of any great strength, and who will be most at risk from a storm surge and the after-effects of standing water, and who except that there may be several months of no power/no access to food/impending disease. Please pray fervently that the work God has begun here continue, regardless of this storm's path and the potential damage ahead.
I am so grateful for your concern for San Mateo and Holy Cross, and pray God's blessings upon you and all those you love.
Please, please please keep Belize in your thoughts and prayers. I am safe and sound, but Belize will always be very much a part of me, and the place that I have come to love is in grave danger of being wiped off the map.