Monday - November 9, 1998
Update on Roatan from Loretta Miles de Martinez
Wife of Captain Alex, The Adventure Girl:
According to Phil Stevens at Ocean Diver's/Sunset Inn Resort in West End, the community of West End has pulled
together in resounding fashion, restoring both faith in human nature and
their little piece of the island. Restaurants, hotels and dive shops are
all up and running, fully operational, and ready for the usual influx of
tourists for the holidays! Food, water, and fuel are in good supply with
more shipments due in within the next few days. They are feeling very
fortunate, all things considered. The airport is in good shape, only
having been closed a few days due to weather, rather than damage, and Taca
is flying their regular schedule. If you were considering Roatan as a
vacation destination there is no need to change your plans. In fact, now
is the time to help restore this beautiful paradise to it's former state of
prosperity by supporting it with your tourist dollars. The entire island
depends upon tourism for it's economy and there is no need to stay away.
The reef is in especially good shape. Just like a major flood helps to
restore rivers and streams in North America to health, Mitch swept the
clear of debris, algae, and silt that were previously causing damage and
instead has left it open to flourish and provide new open breeding
for many species of sea life. This is EXCELLENT news!!! And should be a
huge relief to all concerned.
The bad news is still on the other end of the island. Punta Gorda was
particularly hard hit by Mitch, sustaining by far and away the most
damage to Roatan. More than 100 homes were swept to sea, leaving nothing
behind but desperate grief. These wonderful people who have so graciously
opened their village to us and shared their unique and facinating culture
need us now.
Daily Report from O Ma R Orbison:
It started as one of those days I felt I should have stayed in bed. When starting one of the cars, the accelerator cable
broke - which turned into a major ordeal. After being unable to locate the exact replacement part in any of the local
stores, nor an available mechanic, in typical Honduran fashion I fixed it using a cable designed for a BMX bicycle. By
the time I did get out for the daily photographic session, it was the early afternoon and one of my daughters pleaded to
join me...so I consented and we were off to the boondocks together!
This time we decided to head to a fresh area that reportedly was also flooded, an area north of the city of Choloma
known as Monterrey. It definitely was a good choice since even though it has been sunny for days and the water has
been slowly receding throughout the region, this area is still wet and extremely muddy. Clean-up efforts are in full
force and unlike most other areas that we had visited, the combination of accessibility and isolation resulted in our not
encountering any rescue, police or other public administrators in the area at all.
Entering the zone, we encountered acres upon acres of flooded farmland, and some youngsters using nets to fish in it. It
obviously was cattle and farmland territory, for the stench of manure permeated the air. Further into the zone, we came
upon village after village of people trying to clean-up their homes. Muddy furniture and other personal belongings was
set out to dry everywhere; on rooftops, in the street, on clotheslines, or wherever possible. We picked up a load of
children that kept passing us while we were taking pictures and since we saw that a large body of water was to be
crossed. Unfortunately, when we did try to cross the water, we went a little too fast and the water level reached over
halfway up the pickup and it died!!! Oh, no! Stuck in the middle of moving water and the engine off! Would the fan be
able to turn, would the engine start, would the battery hold up, etc. etc. A fervent prayer to the Almighty One up above
and Thank the Lord it finally did turn over...after several attempts (it died several times), we finally made it through the
flooded area!!! The mud zone that we encountered was miles long, with receding water streams. At one point my
daughter climbed the levee for a view of the river, and lost both of her sandals in the muck. I fished them out, but my
hand turned stiff quickly thereafter due to its mud covering that dried in the heat. We finally reached the home of our
hitch-hikers, and they were kind enough to have the sandals washed with some water that was stored in back. They
reported that the house was a disaster zone, with a foot of mud throughout. Being in a low area, the mud also was
everywhere outside their home. We agreed to pick them up on the way back out of the area, and continued our search
for the perfect photograph to post on the net.
Entering another small village, we came upon houses still in the middle of running streams that covered dirt and rock
streets. Cleanup efforts by the owners were in full swing, we were especially gratified to find one man who obviously
had made much progress in his efforts since he was working to the tune of a loud blasting gospel radio station. After
picking up the kids again, we slowly headed towards our Nemesis - the large body of moving water...prayer after
prayer yielded results, for this time we passed it with flying colors!! First gear, slowly...piece of cake...Hallelujah,
Praise the Lord!
We finally made it back to the paved road just when it started to get dark, and finally home safely :)
Although we have not mixed much religion (since everyone is entitled to their own opinion regarding God - that's
human free will) into these updates until today, I've decided to break our mold a little bit. However, I plan to
return to the previous non-religious style after today's post...but feel that it is necessary to clarify one point at this
time...I sincerely believe that anyone who has been through the ordeals that we have, the sights that we have seen,
and the reactions of the humble folk who are suffering though it all...cannot question whether there is a God! He has
been merciful to those who praise Him, and is there for those who seek Him in their time of need!
Today's photograph of the day is of a school in the area that is going through major clean-up efforts to remove the mud.
Photos from the above report can be found here.
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