Hurricanes at the
Beach: Impacting Belize and North Carolina
Grade Level: 9-12
Author: Rosemary Klein, Davidson, NC
As we make connections between North Carolina and Belize, it is fascinating to
discover how many things we have in common—pine-covered mountains, beaches,
many species of birds and other assorted wildlife, a rich and diverse heritage,
and a common language.
As a result of some of our geographic commonalities, we are subject to the same
natural hazards. Because of the difference in our socio-economic situations, the
effect of these hazards is quite different in our two countries. This lesson will
explore how hurricanes impact these two countries in different ways. It will focus
on the beach communities of Topsail Island, North Carolina and Placencia, Belize.
- Computer with Internet access
- Current periodicals
- understand the effects of a hurricane on the lives of people
- compare the effects of a hurricane in two different geographical areas
In small groups, have students explore general information about hurricanes,
using the following sites:
Discuss with students the geographical areas in which hurricanes are likely to strike
and have them locate Topsail Beach, North Carolina and Placencia, Belize. Discuss the
likelihood that these towns might be hit by a hurricane. In your discussion, have
students predict the impact of hurricane on these towns. Will there be a difference?
Have teams of students research the damage caused by Hurricane Iris in Placencia using
the following sites:
Have teams of students research the damage caused by Hurricane Fran in Topsail Beach:
Discuss the differences in the severity of the damage. Placencia was pretty much destroyed,
while Topsail Beach was able to recover fairly easily.
Using online or offline resources such as almanacs, have teams of students research the
following information about Belize and North Carolina—one team for each category.
- Total population
- Population density
- Per capita GNP
- Typical building materials
- Literacy rate
- Televisions per household
- Doctors per person
- Hospital beds per person
Have the teams of students present their information. Class discussion should focus on
how each of these categories affects the communities’ ability to be informed about
an impending disaster, as well as their ability to recover from it. What adaptations can
communities make to lessen the impact of a hurricane?
Students should respond individually or as a small group to the following prompt:
Emergency management officials in the town of Placencia have hired you to help them prepare
for emergencies. Your job is to prepare a report for these officials. Based on what you have
learned about hurricanes, you will predict whether Placencia is likely to see another hurricane.
You will also present a detailed plan to the town with suggestions to improve their preparation