With the Hurricane Season now upon us, earlier this week we had as guests on the Morning Show, officials from the National Emergency Management Organization. NEMO. Among them was General Earl Arthurs who stated that preparedness is a journey, not a destination.
GENERAL EARL ARTHURS:"We're always better prepared than we were last year and hope we will be better prepared next year than we are this year. For the last four years, NEMO has actually grown from a one person operation now to a national organization with committees in every District and actually in every Village so we are better prepared now as a people than we were four years ago and this year we are better prepared than last year because last year we were concentrating on getting the District and Village plan completed now we are doing training at the Village level and we want to have these communities preparedness training, we are doing it through the Red Cross and the NEMO Secretariat and we are trying to get families organized better so at the end of this year we should have individual family plans made out and written Village plans and that means we would be so much more prepared than we were last year."
We asked Engineer of the Retrofitting Programme, Godwin Sutherland, what has and is being done at the district level with regards to improvements to existing buildings that serve as hurricane shelters.
GODWIN SUTHERLAND:"There've been quite an extensive retrofitting programme that has been undertaken over the last three or four years, this has extended to almost 200 shelters retrofitting throughout the country of Belize. We started off by doing about forty or so pilot type project in Belize District and Cayo and Belmopan and Dangriga and then we moved towards doing a lot more, almost 200 or so buildings have been retrofitted countrywide and the vast majority of these buildings are nearing completion. We in fact set a date of June 2nd to bring most of the existing contract we have in Corozal, Orange Walk and Belize City to an end, which would have given us as I said close to 200 buildings. In addition to that we are projecting some additional buildings in the Cayo District and the Southern Stann Creek District that should commence in another two or three months. In addition to those retrofitted buildings, we have also targeted Belmopan as the center, we built five huge!
structures including a gymnasium, we built three storey classroom buildings, we are currently constructing and in the process of signing a contract for a new auditorium building and so the extent of both new works and retrofitting work has been really massive."
Both new and retrofitting works over the last 5 years have been done at a cost of approximately 62 million dollars.