Media Releases

As soon as October 10th, media releases were created to describe the devastation to parts of the Toledo District and Stann Creek District. What information was made available to the public came in the form of news reports and press releases. To date, information still focuses on the devastation in the area. As time moves on, it is hoped that the media will have the opportunity to report that relief efforts are working.

This page will be updated with the most recent releases on a regular basis.
Below, a short excerpt is printed along with an opportunity for you to read the rest of the material on line.


"It is important for Belizeans in the rest of the country to achieve a spiritual solidarity with these faraway Belizeans in South Stann Creek and Toledo, because these are people we have never really appreciated enough. These are our farmers, our fishermen and our workers. They are the salt of the Belizean earth. They give more to the nation than they receive. Belizeans in South Stann Creek and Toledo work very hard and they consume relatively little."

Read Article (10/10/01) - Vicious Iris
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"Prime Minister Said Musa told Amandala yesterday while he was on tour in Southern Belize that the economic impacts would far outweigh those caused by last year's Hurricane Keith, which battered San Pedro Ambergris Caye and Caye Caulker before it started dissipating off coastal Belize. This year, Belize had already suffered an estimated $40 million dollars in damage caused by Chantal."

Read Article (10/10/01) - Iris blows away South Stann Creek and Toledo!
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"With the issuance of an All Clear around 8:00 a.m. yesterday, and the subsequent lifting of the National State of Emergency following the destructive passage of Hurricane Iris, communities in Southern Belize have been calling out for urgently needed aid. Massive relief is needed, not only from international organizations, but also our very own people."

Read Article (10/10/01) - Iris relief
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Plenty International Press Release
"Today, people are standing around along the roads in shock, beside their ruined homes and demolished crops, wondering what to do next. The poor rural Mayan villages in Belize's southern Toledo District were hardest hit. "

Read Press Release (10/10/01) - Hurricane Iris Slams Southern Belize

Red Cross Online Article
"Many of the inhabitants of this area are subsistence farmers with very little income under normal circumstances. They have no resources to fall back on in times of disaster, according to Red Cross leaders in Belize. "It is absolutely essential for us to provide enough food to tide them over until the next harvest, in early 2002," said John Humphreys, head of the damage assessment team for the Federation. "We also need to make sure they are well protected from the elements, since the rainy season is not over."

Read Article (10/12/01) - Hurricane Iris Relief Continues

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Belize Prime Minister Said Musa
"Out of this great tragedy comes a great opportunity for us to uplift the people of the South working with village and community leaders to bring about meaningful human development and sustainable livelihoods for our indigenous people. That is our clear vision. That is our bold agenda." (Press Conference)

Channel 5 Online News
"But as the story of Belize's worst natural disaster since 1961 unfolds, it is becoming apparent that the bulk of Iris' victims inhabit the inland villages of the Toledo District. These are people whose food is often home grown, are likely to sleep under a thatched roof and whose most popular fashion accessory is a machete, not a cell phone."

Read Article (10/16/01) - Toledo Villages Bear Brunt of Iris

"Our relief activities have already started. We are already assisting with food, with clothing and we will shortly be assisting with shelter, providing housing. The money will go towards this sort of work that we are doing at the moment, and in fact, probably some activities will go on for a few months yet. It's going to be a long term effort cause people are have been badly impacted, especially subsistence farmers who really have nothing with which to survive, for at least three to six months."

Read Article (10/16/01) - U.S. Government Delivers $200,000

Government of Belize Press Release
This website breaks down the latest damage assesment resulting from Hurricane Iris for all of Belize.

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Channel 5 Online News
"You have people who have been living a life of struggle, a life rather than living for comfort, living for survival. And when people who are living for survival are struck with a tragedy and devastated, the little that you have is taken away and you have no other alternative, then what you do." Quote: Valantino Shal, Toledo Maya Cultural Council

Relief Net Press Release
"According to the Ministry of Education and Sports, the estimated damage to schools amounts to US$ 1.6 million. Some 15 schools have been completely destroyed, 12 have lost roofs and others suffered extensive damage. Equipment, books and furniture have been completely destroyed. The total number of school age children affected is 5,500." Source: UNICEF

Government of Belize Press Releases
"Minister Dolores Balderamos- Garcia received a courtesy call from Mr. William Vigil, Regional Program Coordinator of the World Food Program. Mr. Vigil and his team are in Belize to assist in the Hurricane Relief effort. "

"Information released today from the National Emergency Management Organization shows that Government has spent over twelve million dollars ($12,850,000) to date in its emergency response to Hurricane Iris in the Stann Creek and Toledo Districts. This money has been spent to provide food, materials, transportation and other support services to the stricken areas, as well as for shelters and evacuation costs."

Read Article (10/26/01) - NEMO Continues Relief Efforts

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The Eastern Door Newspaper- Canada
"Last week, a story poked up to the surface, quietly, like a tiny air bubble, rising to the surface of the water, barely heard. It came through the e-mail, just one of hundreds that come to The Eastern Door. The thing of it was that the story should have been major front page news, at least in North America, yet it went largely unreported in the media. That it did was astounding because it was a category 4 hurricane dubbed Iris. . .
Clearly, the need is there for the Maya in Belize, and just as clearly we, here in Kahnawake, have the means to make a difference there. Perhaps there isn't anything we can do to change the outcome of terrorism in the world, but that doesn't mean we cannot make a significant difference in the lives of the Maya."

Read Article (10/29/01) - News Falling Through The Cracks

Relief Net Press Release
"In the Toledo District, Catholic Relief Services has confirmed that some 8,000 people have been left homeless, supplies of basic medicines are low and, because the local saw mill and trees were both completely destroyed during the storm, supplies for rebuilding homes are virtually nonexistent." Source: Catholic Relief Services

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