Home » Early days on Belize island, Hurricane Mitch

Early days on Belize island, Hurricane Mitch

Jim Schofield, the owner of the island dive shop, first joined us as a Slickrock guide and handyman in 1997, our second season on Long Caye. Not only did he help with guiding trips, but he assisted with building cabins and tent palapas as we began to expand our facilities. Jim loved the island lifestyle and soon decided to establish himself as a long term resident with Slickrock. After building us a brand new duplex cabin, he moved most of his possessions in and left them in storage over the summer while were closed, returning to his home in Tucson, AZ.

That Oct, just before we planned to get to the island for more pre-season construction, we were struck by the waves of nearby Hurricane Mitch, a Cat 5 hurricane that made landfall on Honduras and killed over 11,000 people. The huge waves spawned by Mitch’s 180-210 mph winds, only 120 miles away, swept over the island and took out 4 of our buildings, including Jim’s new cabin with all his possessions.

jim schofield after hurricane mitch
Jim in semi-ruined palapa after Mitch

Upon arrival back on the island, Jim immediately started work on our kitchen building, which still stands today. Meanwhile, he moved into what was left of a tent palapa (pictured), which before the storm stood 8’ tall. Jim started digging into the sand and rubble to find what what left of his gear, and we are still finding stuff today as we dig down to install new footings for cabins. Slickrock also lost our original kitchen along with all its equipment, and we are still finding remains of this gear as well!

Long Caye at Glover's Reef in 1992
Long Caye before Hurricane Mitch
Long Caye in 2006
Long Caye after Hurricane Mitch