Monday, November 21, 2011

HURRICANE HATTIE 1961 MEMOIRS

*** Ray about 15 years older after Hurricane Hattie events.


Regarding the University of Florida, pdf file on Hurricane Hattie and the remarkable recovery on Caye Caulker, a barrier reef island of 90 fishermen´s homes, that was swept by Hurricane Hattie tidal surge of 15 feet which covered the island. The school building was full of children and adults. It got picked up by a stormwave sweeping across the island and then it dropped in the trough and broke apart. That was where the 14 dead or so came about. Pablo Canto a thief and village drunkard, tied himself to a coconut tree and survived high up in the tree. What is the split, or cut today on the island,was just a small trickle of water, about a foot and a half wide after the hurricane. Tidal flow back and forth ate it open as wide as it is, in 2011. Tony Vega had his house survive. His posts were down about 11 feet in the ground and the swirl of water did not dig them out. His house was also tied together with angle iron at all the posts, studs and corners.


From: Ray Auxillou
To: Wendy Auxillou
Cc: "bz-culture@psg.com"
Sent: Monday, November 21, 2011 2:14 PM
Subject: Re: Bz-Culture: Ray Auxillou controls Caye Caulker after Hurricane Hattie

I can while I´m still alive add a footnote to whoever wrote that piece. After reporting to Governor Thornly at Queen Street police Headquarters, after returning from Caye Caulker, I asked for permission to get tools and hardware from Hofius Hardware, still standing. The Governor said fine, but I asked for a written piece of paper, with his signature on it. He gave it to me, but said he couldn´t enforce it. I and a couple of Caye Caulker helpers ( one was Leslie from the Caye ) went to Hofius walking, but the manager, would not let me have anything. So I went back to Governor Thornly and he told me he could not help me. I asked for a pistol, as the crowds were looting up and down the street and the Manager of Hofius ( an Englishman ) was worried if he opened his doors he would get looted too. We had two island sailboats by the then Marketing Board, on the riverside and had to walk through about 3 or 4 feet of mud around the city. I lost my shoes and never had another pair. Anyway the Governor referred me to a military officer ( a British Major ) who seemed to be in dispair and sort of crying, as he had no men, etc. I told him that I needed, was some soldiers to take with me and the Governor had approved it. Because of the mob. He went on and on, but finally, a patrol just coming off a 24 hour shift, volunteered. At least one corporal and a private. I also asked the Police Seargant for a pistol, telling him the Governor had approved it. He lent me his. Not sure of the caliber, and I promised to have it back in an hour. Leslie, another fisherman, two soldiers and myself went to the Police Station gate, and the military guy officer who I had asked, said there were no lorries available, ( he was almost weeping and crying at his inability to do anything ) as they were either without gasoline, or on the airport shuttle for supplies. So I asked my guys to wait and walked up the street a bit, and flagged the first 3 ton Bedford truck coming by empty, apparently on the military run to the airport. I think they had been carrying stuff to the Marketing Board shed? Anyway, I jumped in the passenger side and said I was commandeering the truck for an hour. The driver protested, he was already commandeered, but I stuck the pistol in his ribs and told him to pick up my crew by the Police Station gate. Basically, I hijacked him from the army. He did and off we went. We went around the back door of Hofius Hardware, as the manager refused to let us use the front door, as the mob were looting all the stores along the street, we went with the truck in the alley and had to finish knocking down a telephone pole to get to the doors. I went in by the front door and Louise Sylvester, the area representative was arguing and pleading with the manager to get tools, but the manager resolutely refused. I listened and there was a crowd in there with permission to get stuff, but the English manager wasn´t budging. The corporal and private were with me, and they were armed, I told the Corporal to arrest the manager and he put his rifle in the guy´s belly and pushed him back against the wall. The soldier private and one of my Caye fisherman went to the back and opened the doors and we start loading, house jacks, axes, crowbars, nails, hammers and all kinds of sundry things. Finally, the manager being held against the store wall, pleaded to me, to let him at least get a pen and paper to write down the stuff I was taking. Did that, and after that everything went smoothly. We filled the truck with stuff, then went to the Marketing Board and did the same there with food. Leslie ( a Caye black man ) had got himself arrested someplace and I rescued him and we loaded the truck with food at the Marketing Board and went around to the two sailing sloops. While the boys loaded the vessels, I took the pistol back to the police seargeant at the Queen street police station, let the soldiers go and get some sleep, the truck was sent on his way and I reported to Governor Thornly that we had our stuff and were going back to Caye Caulker. He was amazed and asked how I did it. When he heard, he simply said, he didn´t want to hear any more, but give him a report on Caye Caulker next time in town. It was some days later, and at that time the British Ship had arrived and naval doctors set up in the BLISS INSTITUTE. I went in and got my feet tended too. The doctor said he took 36 pieces of glass out of my bare feet. A good salt water sea wash fixed that for infection.
The people on the Caye really did good. They organized themselves in teams, and got stuff done quick time. Several political type villagers, went in by boat to the mainland, but were unable to get any cooperation from anybody. Next time I went in, I got zincs and hardware supplies for shelters. The hardware store manager, treated me with welcome arms and let us take anything we wanted. He just wanted to write it down. Very cooperative second time around. About three weeks later, Louise Sylvester, elected area representative came out by British military helicopter, but things were going well and he left. A year of so later, George Price, First Minister I think? Or some title, wrote me and asked how much I wanted for my work after the Hurricane. I toted it up, and submitted a claim for $120 Bz and received a voucher for the money and one day, months later cashed it. I thought it was nice to be so recognized. For some years afterward, I was joshingly called GOVERNOR on Caye Caulker.
_____________________________________________

November 23rd, 2011 Posted in News | 2 Comments »

The following article is an excerpt from a book compiled by John D. Friesen entitled “Hurricane Hattie, Story of the hurricane that ripped through the British Honduras – October 31, 1961″. It’s a very interesting read for all and I invite everyone to access this historical information especially for our beloved isla carinosa, Caye Caulker:
Caye Caulker’s Recovery after Hattie


by: Correspondent

Caye Caulker, 20 miles north-east of Belize, near the Barrier Reef, was swept by 15 foot waves. After the Hurricane, only two good houses were left out of over 100. Almost 400 people were homeless and nearly completely wiped out with 14 known dead.

There were a few more houses numbering about 8 that were also used as refugee centers during the storm but at best were continually swept by water and badly damaged.

People were in a complete daze for the next two days as their grief and sorrow made them seemingly incapable of dealing with the situation. Meanwhile, on the second day in Belize, a fisherman from the Caye arrived in his small boat where he immediately spread the word among relatives of the terrible, bad, bad disaster there. Upon questioning the man, Mr. Ray Auxillou, an Englishman, residing in Belize, thought it was necessary to make a trip out to the Caye and bring back an accurate damage report. He set out, contacting relatives of the people on the Caye and soon a small party with a 19 ft. runabout and salt water drowned motor was found. A mechanic from Gordo’s worked on the motor feverishly while gasoline was hunted.

During the hurry and bustle of preparation, a visit to the controlling authority was paid by Auxillou to notify them of the intention to inspect the needs of the people at the Caye and the extent of the damage. Controlling authority turned out to be the Governor who seemed pleased and offered any help.

Consequently, a small list of food was obtained from the Marketing Board to be taken out for emergency use. The food turned out to be too much for the small boat and two other island sloops were comandeered at the wharf and the food loaded aboard. The speedboat with Ray Auxillou, Luis Alamina and Ilna Alamina went ahead to organize the reception and distribution of food.

Upon arrival the group were met by Constable Bernard Higinio, who was informed by Mr. Auxillou that a state of emergency was declared on the Caye, and that he would work under his authority for the time being on direct verbal orders from the Police Commissioner Bruce Taylor in Belize. A meeting of the Village Council was held at the J.P.’s house (best house remaining).

The distribution and plans for rehabilitation were discussed and after a little time, it was decided to leave things in the hands of the Village Council. However, by the next morning, it was apparent that the shock of disaster and great loss of everyone made things difficult. The Council were not reliable to adequately control or agree on what to do, people were looting and there was no spirit of cooperation. The Constable and Mr. Auxillou therefore called a public meeting that morning. The terrible situation in which the hurricane had left the whole country was described and the situation at the Caye was reviewed. Mr. Auxillou, speaking as the Governor’s representative, stated he found it necessary to declare “Martial Law” on the Caye, and in a long speech told the people that they could expect hardly any help from outside, but the best could be attempted, with no promises.

He explained how everyone should work together in cooperation with the Village Council, who would control all operations answerable to him.

Registration groups were formed immediately to list all people on the Caye, by age, name and family. A list of the destitute was made; a list of immediate requirements was also made.

The paper work took most of the day. Another meeting was held that night and “volunteer” conscription was organized with the motto “no work, no food”.

Gangs were assigned to the emergency projects in order of priority. There were the gathering and repairing of all water vats, erection of temporary shelters and looking after aid. Five serious hospital cases were sent into Belize City by boat early the next day.

Upon returning to Belize, a report was given to the Governor and a list of emergency requirements requested. These were authorized immediately and Mr. Auxillou’s authority for representing the Governor’s Emergency Hurricane Headquarters was confirmed verbally.

A tough time, even with the Governor’s written authority was experienced in getting materials, as no respect was shown to the Police Guard assigned. It was eventually found necessary to use two armed soldiers; after this was done, things worked out smoothly.

In two days’ time, the Caye had several houses standing and 19 temporary shelters. Now four weeks later, there are almost 50 complete houses, and work has stopped only because materials are lacking. At least 50 houses were swept completely away to sea.

After ten days, Mr. Auxillou passed the authority over the the Constable through the Governor, still leaving the Village Council in actual charge of operations, as the emergency crisis was deemed over, and all operations were now working fairly smoothly. The situation broke down slightly a few days later for a short time, but went back to normal again with the Village Council, now working in complete charge.

Caye Caulker was split into two following Hurricane Hattie in 1961 (Photo by Ray Auxillou )

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