October 3, 2010

Ten inches of rain in La Ceiba, Honduras

mud slide in La Ceiba, HondurasHouse sitting on a hole in the ground after the rains
Photos: La Prensa, Honduras

This is a followup on my Friday weather article. Here in our neighborhood just outside of La Ceiba, we had 10 inches of rain on Friday! The rain fell strongly from about 2 p.m. until about 5 p.m., then diminished somewhat but didn't completely stop until about 1 a.m. El Jefe went to town in the early evening and it had stopped there, at least temporarily. It's amazing how the weather varies just a few miles away.

Saturday and today, it has been cloudy with some light sprinkles. The weather forecast includes only scattered showers for the next seven days, so hopefully the worst is over, at least until the next tropical storm comes along.

The local news on Friday night showed terrible flooding in some areas of La Ceiba. We saw men walking down a street with water up to their waists. The reporters showed the inside of one house which had water up to the sofa cushions. What a disaster! The antiquated storm drain system in downtown La Ceiba has been basically non-functional for decades and no one does anything about it. People throw their trash all over the streets and the drains clog up with plastic bags and bottles, seemingly unknowing or uncaring about the problems this causes for others.

Another problem is that the municipality allows building anywhere in any manner and there are no controls to prevent one property owner from 'raising' their lot several feet above the adjoining lots which of course causes the neighboring lots to flood with the run off — sometimes which is even purposely drained into the neighboring lots! There also doesn't seem to be any controls to prevent clearing the higher properties of all vegetation even when it is obvious that when the rain comes, the hill will slide down on top the houses below. It's every man for himself here.

mud slide in La Ceiba, HondurasA La Prensa article states that about 150 people in 18 colonias were affected. This photo shows a man shoveling mud out of his house in Las Canelas. The neighbors say they have complained to the authorities about the danger more than once but nothing was done. Now, whether they built their houses before or after the hill became a danger, I do not know.

The article also quotes the rainfall as having been 100 millimeters (approximately 4 inches). I have no idea where this nice round figure comes from since
the airport weather station doesn't track rain and there are no recorded personal weather stations. I sincerely doubt that there was that much of a difference in the amount of rain in town and here at my house. Maybe it was just a wild guess.

The congress recently passed a new building code. I hope that this sort of thing will be addressed, but even if it is, there isn't much chance that it will be enforced. That's not negative, that's just the way things have always been here in Honduras. If you are buying property, you need to be aware of what can happen.
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