General

Forecast for 2018 hurricane season above average; how should Belizeans prepare?

By Marion Ali, Assistant Editor

 

 

The 2018 Atlantic hurricane season is less than two months from its official opening and hurricane experts have predicted another above-average year in terms of activity. At this time, Belizeans need to get into preparation mode, the officials at the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) advise, in order to secure life, property and irreplaceable valuables.

 

The prediction is that there will be a total of 14 named storms, seven hurricanes and three major hurricanes, which outnumbers the average of 12, six and two in that order.  For this reason, Operations Officer at NEMO, Phillip Willoughby, says Belizeans should be preparing from now to make reinforcements and hurricane security features to their houses, gathering their food and other emergency supplies, formulating a hurricane plan for their families, and making whatever other necessary adjustments.

 

At the national level, Willoughby says NEMO is reviewing all plans at the national, municipal and village levels with a view to, in the future, synchronize all operational functions and consolidating them into one general plan.  He explained that currently, some areas have their own operational plans because of the geographical locations.

 

Willoughby believes that in order to be better prepared for disasters, Belize needs to formulate and test some hypotheses to see if they can be formalized into theories.  He used the ceiling crisis at the Karl Heusner Memorial Hospital as a useful case study to determine if the breach in structural integrity was caused by hurricanes and tropical storms that have pummeled Belize since the hospital was built in 1995; or whether it was the earthquake that struck Mexico last September that was felt for close to three minutes in Belize.

 

Such case studies would then result in recommendations for adjustments to the current building codes for new structures and, where possible, alterations for existing ones in order to cope with the types of natural disasters now affecting the region.  This new building code would be the recommendations for all public and privately-owned structures, Willoughby said.

 

For urban communities, NEMO plans to utilize the sporting auditoriums that have recently been built in the various municipalities as hurricane shelters and distribution centres in the event a hurricane threatens Belize.

 

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