The Maya Leaders' Hurricane Iris Disaster Relief Effort
- Fundraising Appeal -
Hurricane Iris, a category 4 hurricane, hit southern Belize on Monday 8th October, 2001. Between approximately 8.30-10pm, the Maya communities of the Toledo District experienced the brunt of its 145 mph winds, as houses were ripped apart, trees split in two or torn out at their roots. Until 2 am, heavy rains bore down on their devastated homes. But by 3 am, the rains and winds had thoroughly abated, and an eerie calm reigned over the communities as the people emerged from their shelters to survey the unthinkable devastation before them.

Preliminary accounts suggest that at least 8,000 Maya villagers out of approximately 16,000 in the Toledo District are currently homeless. Some of the villages are completely destroyed. Most have sustained serious structural damage. People are living out in the open in inclement weather. The crops - rice, corn, fruit trees etc. - are destroyed, and most livestock is dead or missing. The rivers are contaminated, and water and food supplies are running out. People are cold, wet and hungry, and there are reports that flu, colds and diarrhea are breaking out amongst the population.

Miraculously, there are no definite reports of casualties so far, though some people are missing, presumed dead. Other communities are in such disarray, and utterly cut off from communication, that it will be some time before a serious assessment of the number injured and killed can be ascertained.

What The Communities Need
There is an immediate need for food, water, medicine, clothing and temporary shelter. There is also an urgent and long-term need for building materials for the long task of reconstruction of the various villages. With many of the communities cut off from town, communication devices such as two-way / CB radios would also be extremely useful.

How to help
Donations of the specific items listed above would be much appreciated. Nevertheless, for our supporters abroad, since all these items can be obtained in Belize, it might be more practical for them to send cash contributions. These can be sent to the Maya Leaders joint account, which is:

The Maya Leaders' Hurricane Iris Disaster Relief Effort
Chequing account number: 500.6417
Belize Bank, Punta Gorda Branch

If you are wiring your contribution from abroad, this can be wired to either:
Bank America International
201 South Biscayne Blvd.
28 Floor Miami, Florida 33131
A.B.A. 066007681
Telex 6812100

Bank American International should be instructed to send these funds on to:
The Belize Bank Limited
60 Market Square
P.O. Box 364
Belize City, BelizeTelex BZ158 BZE BANK BZ
who finally send it to:
Chequing account number: 500.6417