I don’t know if US news reported this, but last Friday Tropical storm Matthew looked like it would become a hurricane, and looked like it would hit Belize. Fortunately it fizzled out and became a tropical depression which dumped some rain on us and then left. But before it downgraded Belize prepared for a hurricane, which mostly consisted of closing schools, buying a few pounds of extra beans, and listening to the radio.
When a storm is forecasted for Belize, the country’s major radio station, Love FM, switches from playing 24-7 love songs to continuous coverage of the storm. It is a truly Belizean phenomenon. EVERYONE listens to this station during a storm. It becomes the central clearing house for all the country’s information. The national emergency organizations, weather forecasters, Red Cross- they all call in and report flooding, bridge closings, shelters open, etc. The best part though is anyone can call in, not just important people in charge of things. So every few calls you hear one like this:
caller: hello? hello?
dj: go ahead caller
dj: go ahead caller, you’re on the air
caller: [yelling as if into a microphone] can you tell my Tia Maria to call her family in
Orange Walk? She’s not answering her cell phone.
Sometimes they broadcast the audio portion of the TV news, which results in highly informative sessions such as this:
broadcaster: ok now we’re going to show you some more pictures of the flooding area. [silence] Yeah look at how high the water is there. [silence] There’s that wall again. [silence] hmm that looks bad there. OK thank you and moving on…..
My all time favorite call-in was a few years ago when hurricane Dean threatened Belize. It went something like this:
irate female caller: Would you remind those tourists who I just saw kayaking on the Mopan river that this is a STATE of EMERGENCY! They should not be KAYAKING!!
Dang tourists. Don’t even listen to the radio while they kayak.