Preparations for the upcoming hurricane season are currently underway as NEMO officials and meteorologists are working closely to ensure that disaster mitigation remains key on their list for effective crisis management. The National Met Service is forecasting a very active season this year and residents are encouraged to take necessary precautions. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The 2010 hurricane season is less than a week away and experts predict an above average six-month period. Among the many issues that arise in times of a hurricane threat is the difference in local and international information regarding weather systems. Chief Met Officer Dennis Gonguez says that following such updates on the Weather Channel is prudent but it is a safer bet to go with localized information as it pertains to Belize.

Dennis Gonguez, Chief Meteorological Officer

Dennis Gonguez

“We don’t discourage people from looking at the foreign news, however our local forecasters are more in tuned with what will happen here in Belize right. So it’s advisable to pay attention to what our local forecasters are saying right, where the system is going because we are more concerned about our little piece of, our country here. While if you look at the international media they are more concerned about the bigger picture while we are focused on our little country here. So it’s best to pay attention to what our forecasters are saying.”

Equally important is hurricane preparedness. The National Emergency Management Organization or NEMO is already putting together a comprehensive plan of action in the event of a disaster. On a smaller scale, however, residents are required to practice their own safety measures.

Noreen Fairweather

Noreen Fairweather, National Emergency Coordinator, NEMO

“You look to things also like shutters, you know. Make sure your roof’s secured, making sure you have good plumbing and electricity. People in your family know where those main switches are to turn them off. Have your backup plan in terms of your supply of food and water, even if you can’t get food at least have good water I mean that’s the essence in terms of lifesaving. The first thing people want is access to good, clean, potable water. So you have that and your medical kits and so on. And emergency numbers; if you’re going to leave your house let people know, let your family know, let your friends know where you intend to go.”

Judith Alpuche, in her capacity as a board member of the Social Investment Fund, says the organization has begun modifying schools and other public buildings for use as hurricane shelters.

Judith Alpuche, CEO, Ministry of Human Developmentjudith alpuche

“New schools that the Social Investment Fund builds, a lot of consideration is being given to those schools also being hurricane shelters and so they’re built as such. They are built to withstand hurricanes as well. So there’s quite a bit going on with regards to ensuring that there are public buildings particularly in rural areas available for people to be sheltered safely while we try to rustle up the millions needed to build the proper shelters.”

The 2010 hurricane season officially begins on June first and runs through until the end of November. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.