From the S.O.E. to an impending hurricane…There is a sense of urgency in San Pedro in light of the fast-approaching storm. The San Pedro Town Council is asking residents to start putting their family emergency plan into action and to be prepared to seek safe shelter. It is expected that by Thursday, Nana will strengthen into a hurricane before it makes landfall somewhere along the coast. San Pedro residents were today securing their assets including properties and golf carts. A release from the San Pedro Town Council asked for calm, saying that precautionary measures for families seeking shelter are being put in place. Today over a hundred persons left the island en route to the mainland. News Five’s Duane Moody reports.
Duane Moody, Reporting
Up to one hundred residents from Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye have so far evacuated to the mainland in anticipation of Tropical Storm Nana that is quickly approaching Belize and is expected to make landfall in the south as a hurricane in less than forty-eight hours. As early as Monday, water taxis were informed by the National Emergency Management Organization that vessels were to be deployed to San Pedro to allow for those who may want to leave.
Shameka Pennill, Marketing Manager, San Pedro Belize Express
“We have been called upon to assist the National Emergency Management Organization and that’s what we are doing. Since it has been lifted, management has decided to put in two vessels to start to bring these clients in from San Pedro to evacuate the island from this hurricane. For now it is just a voluntary evacuation. If you want to get off the island, this will be the time to get off the island now.”
The Ministry of Health has put in place safety procedures at the dock to ensure that evacuating persons are not COVID-19 positive, that they are not part of the contact tracing list or that they are not exhibiting any respiratory symptoms.
Dr. Javier Canul, San Pedro Polyclinic II
“We asked the boat companies to alter their manifest to include vital information that would help us with contact tracing should one of these people come out positive. So that would include their destination address, including their phone numbers and other things. So there is a screening in place to minimise anybody that’s sick to leave the island.”
“The instruction that I was given, the directive was that persons who have been infected with COVID-19 or is in some kind of tracing with COVID-19—M.O.H. supposed to have this list—and those are the persons that won’t be able to travel. So if you on that list or if they find you not able to travel, then obviously you won’t be able to board the vessel.”
While there are concerns about coronavirus, the passengers who disembarked at the terminal in Belize City spoke about leaving their home to weather the storm with relatives on the mainland.
Megan Hollan, Caye Caulker Resident
“Dehn say that di storm di come and I noh want that when it do come in on Thursday, we wah can’t do nothing about it or can’t go nowhere or the waves choppy and then the boat cannot run. So I literally come in now cause I feel like this dah di best thing fi do.”
“Where are you going right now to your family here in the Belize City? What are you going to do?”
“So I am going to Cristo Rey for a couple days, maybe three days and then come back cause I am from Caye Caulker, so going for a three-days and come back.”
“Why did you leave the island today?”
Rosalina Canche, San Pedro Resident
“Because of the storm and then because I don’t have family there and we don’t have no jobs right there.”
“So where are you going right now?”
“With my family.”
“In Belize City?”
Jamie Young, San Pedro Resident
“I come off today because my son have to deh dah Belize [City] with ih ma. So I gwen back on the island right now as soon as the 4:30 boat. So me, I am going back.”
“So for this time, you were basically trapped out there?”
“No, I live out there on the island. I have my home out there, I live out there; I reside out there. I am a licensed fisherman; I will be able to do and survive out there the best I can. I have family who have big structures and we will just weather the storm out there other than just go elsewhere and catch corona. I mean corona is on the island and it is everywhere right now, but it is best stay safe where you are and full it out that way deh soh and hep it going that way.”
Lockdown lifted; first passenger boats leave island amidst threat of possible Hurricane Nana
Tropical Storm Nana draws closer to Belize with the potential to land as a hurricane, and with the National State of Emergency lifted in San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye, two passenger boats took over 100 residents off the island on Tuesday, September 1st. Some of the passengers had been stranded on the island during the lockdown, while others are seeking safety from the tropical storm. They were screened before boarding the boat and their information was recorded for the purpose of contact tracing in the event they become infected with COVID-19.
The first passenger boat left shortly after 11:30AM, followed by the second at 3:30PM from Municipal Dock from where San Pedro Belize Express Water Taxi Company operates. Police and health officials made their presence known, ensuring social distancing and that everyone was wearing a mask. Each passenger’s temperature was checked before getting their tickets and boarding the vessel. Their vital information was written down in order to know where they are going and to be able to contact them in case health authorities may need to.
Click here to read the rest of the article in the San Pedro Sun