By Aaron Humes
BELIZE CITY, Tues. June 10th, 2014
The City Emergency Management Organization (CEMO) this week publicized its efforts to get Belize City residents prepared for the oncoming hurricane season.
CEMO has prepared detailed plans to address key concerns from shelter management to mandatory evacuations.
Mayor of Belize City Darrell Bradley, who acts as CEMO chair, told the press on Monday that “preparations have been made long in advance, to ensure that the city is prepared for any occurrence of any hurricane, tropical storm, or any emergency during this period.”
But he noted that it is up to individuals and families to be likewise prepared.
For instance, it inspected 13 shelters across Belize City as of January, declaring them ready to take in persons in the event of a Category 1 or 2 hurricane, or even severe rainfall or tropical storm, impacting the city.
The City will open these shelters as needed during any threat event, and will keep the public informed via the press of its plans.
CEMO has trained City Council employees and public officers tasked with emergency duty under the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), with emphasis on persons with special needs such as the elderly, the sick and disabled.
But the Mayor notes that not all its plans are hurricane-proof. He added that in the case of a mandatory evacuation, work on major streets being currently concreted which are also evacuation routes – such as Princess Margaret Drive and Central American Boulevard – would be stopped.
There would then be an orderly evacuation of heavy equipment and voluntary departures before a mandatory exodus would begin.
According to Councillor Philip Willoughby, the Council and CEMO, along with the Belize Red Cross, have posted signs and billboards around the City detailing the list of approved hurricane shelters, directions on evacuation and other information.
The authorities have also developed a marked evacuation and re-entry route.
The Council’s infrastructure work also takes emergency issues into effect, as there have been steps taken to reduce flooding through a project rebuilding and creating new flows and outlets on the Northside of Belize City as well as the Government’s project to connect the two sides of the City through a fourth bridge at Chetumal Boulevard.
As part of the Council’s awareness plans, it hosted a symposium addressing the issue of climate change, with participation from the National Meteorological Service, OCEANA, and other key stakeholders.