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Matthew Hoy of Pelican Properties – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Veranda of first story condo in Ambergris Caye, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingThere are no earthquakes here in Ambergris Caye. Fire can happen anywhere but we don’t have forest fires like the ones that happen in places like California or Northern BC (British Columbia, Canada).
 
We are in a zone where we can get hurricanes but they are less frequent than in many other places within the Caribbean. The last major hurricane that hit Belize was in 2001. We get less hurricanes than the rest of the Caribbean because where Belize is situated gives less opportunity for hurricanes to form. They tend to form out in the middle of the Atlantic and then progress westward and then northward, and Ambergris Caye is in neither of those places.
 
We have had some tropical depressions and hurricanes do occur and can happen in Ambergris Caye but the insurance companies here do offer hurricane insurance.  If your property gets wiped out and you have the right insurance, they just write you a check to replace it. Hurricane insurance premiums are quite affordable compared to what people are used to in North America. If you have a 2,000 square foot apartment and you have hurricane insurance you would be looking to pay maybe 1% of the value of your property on an annual basis for full comprehensive insurance. Generally speaking, most apartment buildings have their own insurance and as an apartment unit owner, you would have your insurance as well on top of that. So your insurance covers your unit and there is also the building insurance that covers the entire development. If you owned an individual property and had a free standing home, you would pay 1.5% of your property value in annual premiums for insurance. If your house were to get completely flooded or knocked over they would cut you a check to rebuild it.
 
Hurricanes are not a day-to-day concern for people in Ambergris Caye. Hurricane season usually lasts only from June to November. Because of the infrequency of the hurricanes that have occurred here, it is a minimal concern to me. But of course it is a concern in general, so we pay attention to weather reports and forecasts and if we see something that looks like trouble, then we prepare accordingly.
 
(Veranda of first story condo on the beach in Ambergris Caye, Belize, pictured.)
Josh Buettner of Ambergris Seaside Real Estate – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Elevated home, Ambergris Caye, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingRecently, it rained 3 inches during the course of the day and certainly the roads here in Ambergris Caye were not in great shape but that didn’t do anything. Later in the day, the water is almost dried out and you are done with it. You don’t really get flooding here on the Ambergris Caye because this is just the sand bar. The water comes up and the water goes down.
 
Most people do not build on the ground floor or they elevate their living space because if there were an actual flood from hurricanes, storm surge, and anything of that nature, you would have rising water. There is nobody right on the ground to begin with. Unless you just didn’t plan for anything then flooding is not really an issue.
 
Fire is also not an issue here in Ambergris Caye. The only real issue that you have to think about here is hurricane storm surge. The reality is, from a geographical standpoint, we are not in a place that is prone to a lot of tropical systems coming through in the advanced stages of development. So we get tropical waves. In the 15 years that I have been here in Ambergris Caye, we have had a couple of wind events. They weren’t really direct hit by hurricanes. They weren’t sustained winds in a 100-mile an hour range, and that happens.  Occasionally, we get a couple of squalls that blow through in the 60-mile an hour range. Most people here in Ambergris Caye are prepared for that. It is something that you are always expecting and you don’t get anything other than leave your veranda furniture ending up going into the neighbor’s yard, so you have to go and pick it up the following day. For the most part, people are fairly prepared.
 
Towards the 4th quarter of the year, people always keep an eye on the weather and there could be a system that develops right in front of Belize and passing over us. We could get a lot of rain and winds but we expect that. Rain is not really a big deal here in Ambergris Caye. The roads will be flooded but homes won’t be flooded and there won’t be any other issue associated with that. 
 
The other issues that you might have with these types of extreme weather events are problems with utilities. Power could go out and cable could go out. Water could also go out, so most people have redundant systems. Most people build back up or stand by generators that they can use when the power goes out. These generators automatically come on when there is a power outage so there is still no interruption of service. There is not a huge distribution of city water outside of town to begin with so most people have systems that catch rain water. Cable nowadays is bundled with Internet service. When the cable goes out, you can just plug in your Google TV, your Chromecast or whatever app you need and just keep going. You can download a few shows and you are ready to go. Although the utilities are now more reliable than they used to be, the power still goes out on a monthly basis for about 15 to 20 minutes. 
 
Since I have been here, we have had one earthquake and it was kind of freaky. It was my first earthquake and it is not something that happens regularly. We are not really on or around any fault line. The closest fault line is well south of us. That earthquake around 5 or 6 years ago but there was no damage reported on Ambergris Caye. The earthquake was centered somewhere off the coast of Honduras, so they might have had some issue in the Placencia area. A chicken pen caved in or something like that but it’s nothing to concern yourself with.
 
You might find a place in Ambergris Caye that is 12 feet above sea level but the reality is we have a great reef. The barrier reef in front of Ambergris Caye comes up almost to above the water line so a lot of what happens rolls and breaks on the reef. That is really a saving grace because the reality is that Ambergris Caye is a sand bar. Without the reef, this place will not exist to begin with. After that earthquake, we all stood by and waited and nothing really happened. We do tsunami drills, hurricane drills, and earthquake drills. They have NEMO and emergency management organizations but the reality is that there are things you can do for planning and to make sure. Most people’s homes are well-built and elevated above sea level. In this area where we live, the highest water we ever had was 4 feet above the regular waterline, which is about 6 feet above ground. That is our ground floor. Most people are building about 6 to 10 feet above that.
 
The southern portion of Ambergris Caye has lower lying land than the northern portion of Ambergris Caye but the southern portion also has a more solid reef structure than the northern portion. You get more rolling waves on shore under extreme conditions on the north than they do on the south end. If you base everything on the ocean level, then it makes it easier. People here in Ambergris Caye are not too worried about tsunamis or extreme conditions. There are lots of things that you could be concerned out. I could be concerned about getting hit by a bus or getting bit by a dog but the reality is it is not something that crosses my mind on a daily basis. You cannot stop anything from happening. You just have to be prepared.  
 
(Elevated island cottage, Ambergris Caye, Belize, pictured.)
Bob Hamilton of Century 21 Coral Beach Realty – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
barrier reef, Ambergris Caye, Belize – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingWe had a couple of fires on Ambergris Caye. A resort burned down last year but was rebuilt pretty quickly. Fires are rare here in Ambergris Caye, but we have had them.
 
I do not think there has ever been an earthquake in Belize, let alone out here on Ambergris Caye. People worry about tsunamis because we have the barrier reef and this protects us, even from hurricanes. The barrier reef is around a mile off at sea from the beach, so even if we have a big hurricane and we have 50-foot waves that comes in and smashes everything, like it did in Cancun 6 or 7 years ago and broke up hotels on the beach, that doesn’t happen to us here in Ambergris Caye. Those 50 foot waves hit the barrier reef and drop down into 3 or 4-foot waves. We lose a little sand on the beach but when the hurricane is all over we pump the sand back in.
 
We don’t have concerns about the hurricanes relative to the destruction it can make because of the water because the barrier reef protects us. I love the wind and I am too smart to go  and stand out in the wind in the hurricane because it is not the wind that hurts you but it’s what’s flying through the wind that hurts you. It could be a coconut that could hit you at 30 miles an hour, which can do some damage.
 
(Protective barrier reef aroun d Ambergris Caye, Belize, pictured.)
 
Most of the beachfront resorts and condos have hurricane shutters and doors. If you own a condo, most of the time, if there is a hurricane coming, the homeowners’ association puts your shutters on and once the hurricane is over, they put them back in storage. Hurricanes are not a big concern here. For every big hurricane that hits us, there are five hurricanes that hit Texas, Louisiana, and Florida. The hurricanes come across the ocean from Africa, they form in the Gulf Stream where there is warm water and they feed off that for their energy.  But the Gulf Stream goes up between Cancun and Cuba. As a result, the hurricanes come towards Belize but most of the time they veer off and go to the next place.  
David Drummond of Georgetown Trust – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
Main_Street_San_Pedro,_Ambergris_Caye – Best Places In The World To Retire – International LivingBelize is in the hurricane path, but for whatever reason, there hasn’t been a hurricane here for quite some time. A hurricane had done huge devastation here in the 1980s and that was the last major hurricane on the island.
 
When you get a hurricane, then you will definitely get some flooding. You could see water from coast to coast if a big hurricane comes through. For whatever reason, the hurricanes are moving north or south. The hurricanes usually focus more towards Cancun in Mexico than in Belize.
 
There are no earthquakes and typically, there are no fires. We just have hurricanes.
 
When we get heavy rain, some of the secondary roads fill up with water. We are on an island that has most of its land near sea level up to only 2 feet above sea level. So the areas that are sea level are going to be wet when it rains, but it is amazing what 6 to 12 inches of elevation does to channel the water away so there is very little flooding.  In general, if you build a house or condo, you fill up the land so you have a solid base and so that you won’t have problems with flooding.
 
(Gutters to divert rain in downtown San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Panama, pictured.)
Kate Corrigan  of Georgetown Trust – Best Places In The World To Retire User Account
We have a hurricane season in Ambergris Caye, which is usually the quietest season of the summer months. The hurricane season starts around June or July and ends on the 1st of November, but I have not seen a hurricane here. We have had a couple of threats of tropical storms and a hurricane that was supposed to come, but did not.
 
I have not seen a hurricane in the five years that I have been here in Ambergris Caye. I hope not to. I feel secure enough on the island, even though I do not live in a hurricane-proof house, that in the event of a hurricane, I would stay on the island. I have plenty of friends who have either built their homes to be hurricane proof or bought hurricane-proof homes. I would want to stay in Ambergris Caye if there is a hurricane, unless it would be unwise to do so. Afterwards, I would want to stay here to help rebuild the community. There are category 5 hurricane-proof houses here in Ambergris Caye. They are newly-built properties that can withstand any sort of hurricane that would come through.
 
I have not experienced any earthquakes in Ambergris Caye, either.
 
The torrential rain we had eight or ten years ago caused some flooding, because at that time, the roads on the island were just made of sand.  We have paved roads now, but the drainage in some of the back streets is not so good. But even so, there is not tremendous flooding. You just wear your special shoes or go barefoot and it's fine.
 
We do not have natural fires; definitely not. We had a fire where a resort burned, unfortunately, due to an electrical fault. The resort is now rebuilt and it is fine. The fire trucks came and hosed it down, the wind changed and it started raining, which was amazing. While the fire was burning, the wind changed to take the fire to the ocean rather than inland, and it started to rain. It was pretty crazy, but somebody was looking after us, I think. Nobody got hurt in that fire.  As far as wild fires that you would get concerned about, like in California, we do not have that here in Ambergris Caye.
 

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