City Flooding Results in New CEMO Taskforce Print E-mail
( 0 Votes )
Written by Shane D. Willoiams   
Thursday, 12 September 2013 00:00

CEMO and Red Cross Officials in fron of Billboard sampleThere is no doubt that climate change is having a serious impact on Belize as minor storms that were once nonthreatening are now causing major damage. A low pressure system crept up on Belize late Tuesday, September 10th, as residents were busy celebrating and paying little attention to weather forecasts.

Chief Meteorologist, Dennis Gonguez, said the system caused two and a half inches of rainfall throughout the night. That wouldn’t normally cause an alarming level of flooding in the city but, based on recent experiences from similar weather systems, there seems to be a new normal. According to Wayne Usher, Representative of the City Emergency Management Organization (CEMO), the rain caused flooding throughout the city and numerous calls were made to emergence response agencies from residents of Jane Usher Boulevard, King Street, Euphrates Avenue and Western Avenue. The dispatch officer on duty alerted Wayne Usher and other CEMO officials as inquiries about shelters increased.

CEMO held an emergency meeting early Wednesday morning, September 11th, to develop a strategy to respond to the immediate needs of residents and prepare for future unexpected disasters. Councilor Phillip Willoughby announced that an emergency taskforce has now been established to respond to the needs of residents that have been displaced by the weather system. Bishop Sylvestre Memorial Center will be opened to house those who need to evacuate their home. Gonguez projects as much as two inches of rainfall on Thursday and an inch on Friday as conditions begin to improve. Crispin Jefferies, representative of the National Emergency Management Organization, says that NEMO is tracking other storms that are approaching the region. To reach the emergency task force in Belize City residents can call 227-2308 or 227-2608. Evacuees should be prepared to provide for themselves, as policy explains, for up to 72 hours.

CEMO also announced a project being launched in coordination with the Belize Red Cross. Lilly Bowman, Executive Director of the Belize Red Cross, announced that they have received over $53,000 from the International Federation, courtesy of a donor, to execute a public awareness campaign on disaster preparedness and response in Belize City. Ten billboards will be placed across the city. The billboards will be twelve by eight feet tall and will feature the meaning of hurricane flags, available shelters in the city and transportation hubs in case of mandatory evacuation. There will also be 80 signs informing residents of flood prone areas and evacuation routes. That project is expected to be completed by December of this year.