Turning to the hurricane, there is a sigh of relief tonight. NEMO declared an all clear from Hurricane Rina at four o’clock this afternoon. Throughout the night, Rina remained on a westward path but as it shifted north this morning it also lost strength, gradually reducing to a category one hurricane. At news time, Rina is on a north east trajectory and is expected to impact Cancun, Cozumel and the Rivera Maya in the Yucatan Peninsula. Despite the all clear, in the northernmost district, residents are bracing for the torrential rains as the hurricane makes its way further north. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.
Isani Cayetano, Reporting
Preparations for the potential impact of Hurricane Rina as it makes landfall along the northeast coast of the Yucatan peninsula remained ongoing for most of the day within the Commercial Free Zone near the Belize/Mexico Border. Tents and canopies were being dismantled while security personnel made rounds across the open market informing business owners that operations would conclude earlier than previously scheduled. The decision to shut down the free zone succeeds a meeting that was held with NEMO officials in Corozal Town this morning.
David Akierman, Executive Chairman, Corozal Free Zone
“This morning we met at eight a.m. and just after that I met with the directors from the Chamber of Commerce and the board members for the Corozal Free Zone which forms that emergency committee for the free zone. In that meeting this morning we decided that we are going to close the zone today at five p.m. We should all be out by five, the latest [is] six and we are also asking the investors to safeguard their goods, reassure their canopies and tentatively be listening to the bulletins.”
In Corozal Town, where some residents and businesses wasted no time boarding up windows and taking other necessary precautions, the weather appeared normal. In fact, from the look of things it would not seem as though a category one hurricane was looming off the coast. According to Mayor Hilberto Campos the primary concern here is proper drainage.
Hilberto Campos, Mayor, Corozal Town
“It’s basically making sure that all the drains are properly kept besides the fact that they have been maintained. For instance here at the south end entrance of Corozal we’re trying to widen the exit of the drains making sure that with all of this water that will be coming that the water will be taken out and we don’t have any flood problems as such.”
While the same cannot be said for the free zone which is a flood prone area in the northernmost corner of the district, Executive Chairman David Akierman told News Five that significant measures have been taken to alleviate the problem of flooding.
“The Corozal Free Zone is a low lying area. This was one major difficulty I think we have solved at least to, I would say, eighty percent already. It was a major factor when I came here three and a half years ago but that has been addressed, I would say, not to its entirety of a hundred percent but the main prone flooding areas have been solved, especially the entranceway was a major problem we had before. When it rained we had water stagnated there up to two weeks.”
Business today was a bit sluggish. Presumably, patrons who traffic the zone from nearby Chetumal were equally as occupied preparing for the weather ahead. Back in town the flagstaff flew stage two of the tropical storm warning.
“We have received instructions from NEMO, National [Emergency Management Organization] that we have to evacuate Consejo, Sarteneja and Copper Bank. Well Sarteneja and Copper Bank are assigned to go to Orange Walk [while] Consejo has been designated at the Corozal Community College and the shelters have been open for them, for the evacuees. In respect to Corozal Town at six o’clock we will make the decision whether the shelters will be opened to them depending on the direction of the storm.”
“Give us an idea more or less what the weather has been like over the past twenty-four hours.”
“Over the past twenty-four hours it has been beautiful weather. As a matter of fact for the last two days or three days we have had beautiful weather. This morning it got kind of bleaky and a little, little rain but that was, I think, from the cold front that was breaking up, other than that [there was] no kind of rain. As you can see it’s all dry.”
Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.