So, right now, NEMO personnel in all different parts of the country are on standby ready to activate on a moment's notice.
NEMO liaison officer and all leading emergency management officials met in Belmopan this afternoon to discuss the storm variables and managing the emergency needs that will arise.
This evening, we spoke with the Belize City Council's CEMO leaders, and they told us that they are hoping that City residents will keep calm, listen carefully to the NEMO advisories, and move wisely if they are advised to evacuate from the City's most vulnerable areas which are flood prone. Here's the Mayor and Councillor Willoughby assuring that they are on top of things:
Darrell Bradley, Belize City Mayor
"Councilor Willoughby and likewise has been making arrangements for certain operational functions within the city to occur smoothly in terms of for example the swinging of the bridge, of course those will be done this evening, early tomorrow morning. We encourage every person in Belize City just to stay close to their radio and television and to pay keen attention to the advisories. We are expecting the storm to hit landfall sometimes tomorrow in the evening. At the present moment it is a tropical storm, it's forecasted to have impact over the entire country of Belize. We are expecting that it would hit as a tropical storm, we are expecting very heavy water, not so much wind damage. We are monitoring the situation particularly in low laying areas of Belize City. I know councilor Willoughby together with the members of the police and BDF were touring some of the areas of Belize City which are more vulnerable to flood action. We were giving out flyers in English and in Spanish, advising people in low laying areas that they may come a time when if they feel at risk they would want to go into shelters. We have organized a plan in relation to 5 shelters that will be open and those are all on the Southside of Belize city."
Phillip Willoughby, City Councilor, CEMO
"Today there was a comprehensive clean up on the Southside of Belize city, garbage debris, waste, etc. on the part of the Belize city council. Tomorrow they will do likewise the same for the Southside. so as much garbage, waste or debris that can be put out right now so as to not let these areas become missiles or trajectory that can affect anyone. Please put it out so we can remove these waste during the course of tomorrow. Also, if you are securing your home, remember to one, turn off your switchbox, turn off the power. secondly, put all your valuables, be whatever it is, in heavy duty garbage bags, or make sure it is sealed, in a glass, plastic container or zip lock bag if you have, if not improvise and juts elevate everything for the time being. I think what I am scared of the most would be not to ratchet up any fair but whatever surge there might be, and the amount of rains that were forecasted, is of grave concern in these low laying and flood prone areas. I also noted in the Krooman lagoon area, for some reason everybody is stacking up on butane and carrying supplies like they would want to stay in your homes. We advise them not to do so and like the Mayor said be cautious and listen to the advisory if it means that you need to evacuate, please do so."
Those shelters which will be opened when NEMO gives the green light is Saint John's Vianney, Maud Williams High School, Queen Square Primary School, St. Luke Methodist School, St. Martin De Porres Primary, Grace Primary School, and Salvation Army. That's for the Southside.
On the North Side, CEMO will make available Palotti High School, Trinity Methodist Primary School, UB Engineering Building, St. Mary's Primary School and the ITVET Compound. These will open up as the need arises to evacuate people.
Now, looking at the countrywide picture, here's what the latest NEMO advisory says. First, livestock owners in flood prone, low lying areas should move their animals to higher ground. ?NEMO also warns that, quote,
"Price gouging will not be tolerated", and the Bureau of Standards today sent out a notice saying today sent out a press release reminding the business community that it is an offense under the Supplies Control (Prices) Regulations to sell or offer for sale any price controlled goods above the maximum price. Going back to the NEMO advisory, this one on Labour matters, says, quote, "All employers are…advised that they are to comply with the directives from NEMO regarding employees safety. In the circumstance an employee has the right to seek safety. Any employer who prevents and employee from leaving, commits an offense under the provisions of the Labour Amendment Act. ?
Moving unto the Belize City Swing Bridge, it was opened this evening, and will be opened at 5:30a.m. tomorrow morning. ?
Now, another important notice, this one for travellers, the Belize Airport Authority will be closed at midday tomorrow. As for buses, the last bus runs will leave from the north, west and south at midday and from Belize City to north, west and south at 4p.m. Also, Municipal flights will be suspended at midday tomorrow. ?Additionally, the Fort St Tourism Village is closed; and the Port of Belize closed at 5:00 p.m. today, while the Port of Big Creek closed at 3:00 p.m. today, after the last vessel left for safe waters. Puma energy will be closed tomorrow at 12:00 midday.
NEMO warns that Earl will produce rainfall accumulation of 8-12 inches over Belize. These rains could cause flash floods and mud slides especially over higher terrain. For coastal areas, there is also a risk for flooding, especially in low lying areas such as Belize City. All marine interests, especially small crafts, should exercise caution this evening and tonight, and seek safe harbour tomorrow morning as large swells will be affecting our coastal waters.