CEMO: “We Are Prepared for a Disaster” Print E-mail
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Written by Shane D. Williams   
Thursday, 12 June 2014 00:00

The Belize City Emergency Management Organization (CEMO) held a press briefing on Monday, June 9, to assure residents that the city is “prepared for a disaster”. Mayor Darrel Bradley says CEMO is more prepared than ever and “we have a plan in place to ensure the safety of all residents of the city”.

Shortly after the close of last year’s hurricane season the organization looked at some of its weaknesses. Mayor Bradley says the main weakness identified was rescue workers inability to effectively care for people with special needs. That prompted the Council to sign up over a dozen staffers for sign language classes. Mayor Bradley says, “There will now be someone trained to communicate using sign language in every evacuation mission.” Another weakness is one that has been identified since the Hurricane Mitch experience in 1998; which is the inexistence of a true evacuation route. Councilor Phillip Willoughby says the Council has been talking about it for years and now there is an established evacuation route and plan. Willoughby says immediately after the Mayor issues an evacuation order traffic personnel will be out to direct the flow of motor vehicles on a particular route. These routes can be seen on huge billboards across the city. In order to prevent traffic congestion by those heavy machine vehicles, companies have been instructed to move those vehicles out of the city two days early.

Wayne Usher is CEMO’s Coordinator. Usher says, “Never before have we even inspected a shelter in January. However, this year every single shelter had been inspected by January.” Usher says hurricane preparedness is a year long process and “we are doing our inspections and drafting our plans with a technical team equipped to conduct proper assessments”. Usher says the work of CEMO is being recognized nationally and now NEMO, the Belize Police Department and other Government agencies are sending their employees to be trained in emergency planning by CEMO.

CEMO is confident in its preparedness for a hurricane but according to Councilor Willoughby the goal is to be prepared for any kind of disaster. The greatest threat to Belize, according to Wayne Usher, is Climate Change. CEMO held a symposium on Tuesday and Wednesday, June 10 and 11, based on how Climate Change is impacting and will impact Belize. Usher says that if we do not prepare for the effects of Climate Change the damage to the country will be more catastrophic than is possible from any hurricane. 

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 June 2014 12:23