When the earth shook under all our feet a little over a year ago, and Belize woke up to the reality of an earthquake registering at 7.1 on the Richter scale, few gave thought to the possibility of an even deadlier natural phenomenon called a Tsunami.
But Belize like its central American neighbors were shocked into the reality of what if last year's earthquake was followed by a Tsunami? How would the country and people of Belize have fared? It is with that grim possibility in mind and the fact that Belize sits on what's known as the Caribbean fault line, that NEMO, the National Emergency Management Organization called a press conference today to unveil a warning system to deal with a possible Tsunami emergency.
Roger Espejo, City Councillor
"It is imperative that the general public be made aware of a fault line known as the Caribbean fault which runs thru the Caribbean and runs adjacent to southern Belize. As a result of our proximity to this fault line which can trigger earthquakes we are inherently prone to tsunamis at least the southern part of the country. In the event of a tsunami NEMO has now develop and will activate an alert in conjunction with the telephone company's and the Belize Fire Department."
Ted Smith, Fire Chief
"The warning sound will be as follows. The sirens of the national fire service; each one of the fire stations along the coast has a station siren that is built onto the station. Each one of our fire truck has sirens. The warning system will be from the station. The station will blow for 15 seconds full blast for 15 seconds within this full blast there will be a pause of 5 seconds after each blast. On the conclusion of the 4th blast we will pause the siren for 3 minutes and then the cycle will then re-occur where we will then blow for another full and this will continue until NEMO decide to give the all
clear sign. Where there is no fire station in the other coastal vicinity it is expected from the instructions NEMO issued out that the village council as well as the NEMO coordinator in those areas will use vehicles horns to blow. The horns will be in a similar manner as to the siren so that we can all be on the same page."
Fred Hunter, Belize Red Cross Representative
"A Hurricane gives a lot of warning, flash floods give less time, earthquakes give no warning and Tsunami gives very little warning."
Espejo says NEMO will begin to distribute the information shortly in the form of flyers, and will continue to improve on the present model. He says NEMO is also working with the phone companies to develop an early warning for the pubic using text messaging alerts….