U.S. Embassy – Belize City
June 1 – November 30, 2006
1. Be aware of the hurricane phases.
• “ALERT” – After a tropical storm or hurricane moves into or develops anywhere in the quadrant south of 21 north latitude and between longitude 80 west and 83 west, a hurricane ALERT is in effect. All residents in the cayes are advised to leave the islands at this stage of the hurricane.
• “WATCH” – If a tropical storm or hurricane moves into or develops anywhere in the quadrant south of 20 north latitude and between longitude 83 and 85 west, a hurricane watch is in effect. The international airport will close when there is a sustained 40 mph windspeed, usually during the WATCH phase. Those on the mainland coasts should make plans for moving to high ground in the interior.
• “WARNING” – After a tropical storm or hurricane moves into or develops anywhere in the quadrant south of 20 north latitude, and west of 85 longitude, a hurricane WARNING is in effect. During this stage the hurricane or storm appears likely to strike the coast of Belize in a matter of hours. Anyone still on the coastal region of Belize is advised to move to the central highlands.
2. Know how to monitor the progress of the hurricane.
• Via internet: The National Hurricane Center Atmospheric and Oceanic Administration has a continuously updated site: www.nhc.noaa.gov.
The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) in Belmopan has a website also: www.nemo.org.bz.
Add these to your internet “Favorites’ now so you will be able to get to them immediately.
• Via telephone: call 225-2011, the National Meteorological Office at Goldson Airport.
• Via radio: Belize Communication & Security, Ltd. (BCSL) is located in Belmopan. When an ALERT is issued or the US Embassy announces emergency conditions, BCSL initiates its hurricane or emergency plan which includes monitoring of all frequencies and responding to all call signs. These call signs include any appointed U.S. Embassy Warden. Each Warden may program his VHF radio to the following frequency for country-wide communication services during emergencies – at no charge. The primary frequency is: Receive-149.800 Transmit-150.400 Tone: 100Hz. Any warden may call BCSL at 822-2149 for further information. The President of BCSL is Rick Simpson – also a U.S. Embassy Warden.
• All major local television and radio stations will have continuous update of the hurricane progress.
3. Have an alternate residence and evacuation plan in place. Residents of San Pedro and outer islands are advised to leave the islands as soon as a hurricane “ALERT” is issued. Residents of Belize City and coastal regions are advised to move into central Belize when a “WATCH” is in effect. Have a hurricane emergency kit in place in your home and at your emergency residence. American citizens are responsible for evacuating themselves in a timely matter. Evacuation assistance by local or U.S. government during a hurricane cannot be guaranteed.
4. Know your warden. The Embassy will monitor the path of the hurricane via the National Hurricane Center in Miami and give periodic updates to wardens about conditions. Once the decision is made by the Embassy Chief of Mission to evacuate the Embassy in Belize City, all wardens will be notified and wardens will be responsible for notifying residents of their zones that the Embassy has begun preparation to move to Belmopan and advise all U.S. citizens to move inland. At this point evacuation by air is extremely unlikely, but if possible, information regarding time and cost of air evacuation will be given to wardens for dissemination. If you do not know who your warden is, and if you wish to receive e-mails directly from the consular office, please contact Cindy Gregg, firstname.lastname@example.org or 227-7161, Consular Office.
Make a post-hurricane assessment. After the hurricane has passed, the Embassy will appraise the situation in Belize City before re-opening. Notices will be sent to the American community as soon as the situation has returned to normal. If there is a threat to safety, security or health, evacuations may be considered at this point.
Recommended items to prepare for possible inland evacuation:
o Food - enough for 5 days; canned goods, dehydrated soups, dry cereals, snack bars, etc. Don't forget food for your pet.
o Water - It is best to use the collapsible 5-gallon plastic water bags sold at many shops around town (two per person, if possible). Keep a little bleach handy to use as a water purifier.
o Matches and candles
o Flashlights, and fresh batteries
o Extra clothing
o Plastic garbage bags (for protection of valuable documents)
o First Aid kit
o Personal hygiene items (toothpaste/brush, soap, toilet paper, diapers, washcloths and towels, PRESCRIPTION MEDICINES, etc.)
o Bedding and, if available, cots
o Important documents, such as wills, passports, birth and marriage certificates, etc.
In addition to these specific items, car should be tanked up during hurricane alert period. Don't count on filling up on your way out of town, as stations do close early in event of a storm