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#438844 - 05/25/12 09:36 AM City Hall Gets Ready For Hurricane Season
Marty Offline
This morning the City Emergency Management Organization, or CEMO, met to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season - which starts in a week.

In October of 2010 Belize City had a major wakeup call after Hurricane Richard devastated the coastal areas of the Southside. So this year, CEMO is taking no chances. After the meeting, Deputy Mayor, Philip Willoughby outlined some of the measures the organization will be taking to protect the city.

Phillip Willoughby - Security and CEMO
"What has transpired this year I can say that inspections were done by the engineers that went along on that tour and the city engineer did they inspection and evaluation. They (engineers) made their suggestion and recommendations to us, we then compile and collate those information. We went and deliberated on those information at NEMO and the a decision has been taken."

"We will be only utilizing the main shelters on the list up to a category 2 hurricane, anything beyond that will be evacuation. Through the other government ministries we try to mitigate development in the water catchment areas and so forth. Land clearing; the type of developments that has been occurring and that will be occurring and so we try to mitigate at the point of inception."

"In the low laying areas again the council has done a very splendid job through the works department and again with the leadership of Mayor Bradley, an excellent job in rehabilitating streets, acquiring equipment to fix these streets, ensuring that the drains are dealt with, ensure that sanitation problems are dealt with. Again whilst the water problem will only be for a limited space of time as a problem, you will see the run off of this water - we are right on target in terms of draining the city."

But these aren't the only protective measures that CEMO will take in this upcoming hurricane season. A major point of contention with the media was the relocation of the CEMO headquarters to the Channel 5 building on Coney Drive.

In the media melodrama that erupted over the issue, the Deputy Mayor assured the media houses that CEMO will do its best to keep the distribution of information fair, prompt and non-preferential - but he seemed to have a hard time convincing some of our colleagues:..

Marion Ali, LOVE NEWS
"It strikes me as interesting because did you ever in your planning consider the rest of the media? Doesn't it put the rest of us at the immediate disadvantage? "

Phillip Willoughby - Security and CEMO
"No, I don't believe so. Firstly all information that would be forwarded to us would be given to all media houses respectively from the National Emergency Management Organization."

"We are saying that the building and the structure at the Channel 5 compound is a better and safer building to be in based on the inspection of the engineers. We are saying that it is better suited for the business of emergency management there rather than that of the Charles Hyde building."

Marion Ali, LOVE NEWS
"In the event of a major storm, the rest of us are stranded, can't get to you but you need to get out a message, then the only option you have would be Channel 5."

Phillip Willoughby - Security and CEMO
"I am telling you that the information that will be disseminated to all media houses will come through NEMO."

Marion Ali, LOVE NEWS
"But during the storm if you need to get across the message and we can't get to you at the Channel 5 building then you only have one option and that it Channel 5."

Phillip Willoughby - Security and CEMO
"Do they broadcast through radio?"

Marion Ali, LOVE NEWS
"No, they broadcast through television. I know because I was there."

Phillip Willoughby - Security and CEMO
"Again, if this is such a concern for yourself we will see how we can facilitate and what I will do is ensure that all information reaches all media houses in a timely efficient manner."

CEMO will continue to meet regularly as the hurricane season approaches.

Channel 7

#438847 - 05/25/12 09:40 AM Re: City Hall Gets Ready For Hurricane Season [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline


June first is fast approaching and this means that for six months thereafter, the hurricane season will take centre stage on many people’s agendas.  The Belize City Council is no different and today, the City Emergency Management Organization, CEMO, met to discuss the issues that will be relevant in the event a storm threatens the old capital.  Top on the agenda is the integrity and worthiness of hurricane shelters, and Councilor Philip Willoughby said that whatever shelters appear on the list are ready to be used.

Councilor Philip Willoughby

“Inspections were done by the engineers that went along on the tour, one from the Ministry of Education and the City Engineer.  They did their inspection, they did their evaluation, they made their suggestions and recommendations to us.  We then compiled and collated those information.  We went and deliberated on those information at NEMO and then a decision has been taken.  We will only be utilizing the named shelters on the list up to a category two, anything beyond that it will be evacuation.”


CEMO also announced that it will no longer house its CEMO headquarters at the Charles Bartlet Building on Mahogany Street.  In fact, in the event of a hurricane, CEMO will now station itself inside one of the City’s media houses.  The planners over at CEMO said that it will use the third floor of Channel Five’s building on Coney Drive to conduct its operations during a hurricane.  This raised concerns among reporters present but according to Councilor Willoughby, it is all for safety reasons.

Councilor Philip Willoughby

“The building and structure at the Channel Five compound is a better and safer building to be in based on the inspection of the engineers. We are saying it is better suited for the business of emergency management rather than the Charles Hyde building.  We are then saying that building will now be utilized as a incident command center if needs be to provide services to the affected areas.”

Marion Ali - Reporter

Doesn’t it put the rest of us at an immediate disadvantage?

Councilor Philip Willoughby

“No I don’t believe so.  Firstly, all information that will be forwarded to us will be given to all media houses respectively from the National Emergency Management Organization, we are just an arm an agency of NEMO, representing Belize City as CEMO and that relationship has been maintained and forever will be.  Whatever information that comes directly from NEMO is the communication that we will be dialoguing between our EOC to the national EOC and whatever position or decision would be taken would be promulgated and emanated from NEMO.  The only media house that is up and running  that is televised I believe is Love FM, I stand to be corrected.  All other media houses that provides the nation with media coverage would be broadcasting through the radios.  No? Well, if that is the case then we would then have to say that we running the EOC, that any information that needs to be sent to whatever media house will be done promptly and in an efficient manner as possible.”


While they may have immediate access to you, we would want guarantee that they would not be allowed inside where you are meeting.

Councilor Philip Willoughby

No, no, no.  Maam, let me explain what will take place.  In the event that anything is happening within the city proper.  If in fact that any media briefing will be done it will be done firstly by the Mayor or myself.


From where?

Councilor Philip Willoughby

From the EOC maam, which is at Coney Drive at the Channel Five building.  We are only utilizing the space of which the people’s business can be conducted from, it is the people’s business.  What I will do is ensure  that all information reaches all media houses in a timely, efficient manner.”

Willoughby says that CEMO’s usage of Channel Five’s building is a goodwill gesture and will come at no cost to the Council.  Meanwhile, the buildings that will be used as such in Belize City are as follows --- on the south side: Salvation Army and Queen’s Square Primary Schools, Grace Primary’s new school building, the Maud Williams High School, Saint John Vianney Primary, Saint Martin de Porres and Saint Luke’s Primary Schools, and the new Presbyterian Primary School on Antelope Street Extension.  One the north side, City residents can shelter at the UB Education and Engineering buildings, Pallotti High School, and Trinity Methodist School. 


#439257 - 05/30/12 09:11 AM Re: City Hall Gets Ready For Hurricane Season [Re: Marty]
Marty Offline

NEMO, CEMO and Channel 5 structurally sound

Phillip Willoughby

CEMO recently announced a major change for this hurricane season. And that is that this season our facilities here on Coney Drive are to be used to house CEMO operations. The background is that the matter was discussed since last year under the previous council, which was looking for a safer facility. The decision was based on the recommendations of engineers that determined that the structure of our building is strong enough to withstand a hurricane. This afternoon, a team from NEMO did a walkthrough of the building to re-confirm the viability of the structure.

Phillip Willoughby, Security & CEMO

“Well firstly we used to use the Charles Bartlett Building or the Complex Building as it is known, as the E.O.C.; not saying that it won’t ever be utilized again but we had concerns in terms of utilizing the building in the past but the front face of the building is mostly of glass structure and we are saying if the building is breached in anyway, there are other anomalies that will undermine the glass, then we will be putting the CEMO team and other agencies that work along with us, in danger provided that building ins breached. Looking at that then, the interior of it has two stairways up to the top floor and we would be cut off from the two sections that we used as the conference room or the administrative section of the building. With that said, our engineers set out to look at and identify suitable building with all aspects involved; that it meets the criteria for it to be deemed as our E.O.C. in time of a hurricane. We came up with this building and we will be utilizing the third floor as the structure has proven itself, according to the engineer, it is suitable for us to utilize and that is where we are. We had a walk through this afternoon for the committees and we are quite satisfied that there is enough room for us to utilize the structure.”

Channel 5


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