For days Hurricane Emily threatened the Belizean coastline. Although Emily did not make landfall on Belize, it made significant damage on places like Grenada, Jamaica, and the Yucatan Peninsula, especially in Cozumel and Cancun. Meteorologists had predicted more or less the path of the storm and it had both tourists and residents in its path taking precaution and evacuating to a safer place.
The National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) along with the San Pedro Emergency Committee (SPEC) was activated on Friday, July 15th, 2005 at 9:00 a.m. by District Coordinator James Janmohamed on Advice of the Central National Emergency Management Organization. S.P.E.C. immediately started the review of its Hurricane Orders and Emergency Planes.
At 9:20 a.m. the San Pedro Emergency Committee was visited by a team from the Government of Belize consisting of Honorable Godfrey Smith, Tourism Minister, C.E.O. Ministry of Foreign Affairs H.E. Mr. Lawrence A. Sylvester, Brig. Gen. Lloyd Gillett Commander of Belize Defense Force, Brig. Gen. Cedric Borland Commander of Belize Coast Guard, Col. Lovell N.E.M.O. Coordinator and Col. Castillo Logistic Administrator Ministry of Defense, to coordinate with the San Pedro Emergency Committee and to check that all plans were being put into motion.
At 6:00 p.m. on the advice of the Chief Meteorologist and NEMO, Prime Minister Honorable Said Musa declared the Belize in its Preliminary Phase of Hurricane plane. After further consultation, SPEC took into account the small window of opportunity for the evacuation of residents and advised those who believed their homes could not withstand Hurricane force winds and the tidal surges; they should consider a voluntary dispersal to the main land. Resorts were contacted as well to inform their guests of the plan of action.
Through out the entire weekend, SPEC met at frequent intervals and Operations Officer Janmohamed along with Honorable Heredia and Mayour Paz delivered updated reports to the public via Reef Radio, who remained operational 24 hours a day.
During evacuation 1,765 people were transported by domestic airlines, 7,200 people were transported by sea and these figures do not account for the people who departed on private vessels or charters. The amount of people estimated to have stayed on the island is 2,000.
Superintendents Guzman and Kelly, along with Sergeants Cowo and Anderson, with the help of the Belize Defense Force’s (BDF) Maritime personnel under Sergeant Good, worked tirelessly all through the incident and prevented a lot of criminal activity. SPEC Executives accompanied police officers and the BDF on various patrols during the night and the early morning hours.
Emily began with its first target being St. George’s, Grenada where the hurricane blasted out windows, flooded two hospitals and tore roofs from homes as it blew over Grenada and gathered force in the eastern Caribbean. Reports indicate that at least one person was killed. The storm strengthened to a dangerous Category 4 after it cleared the Windward Islands, unleashing heavy surf, gusty winds and torrential rains on islands hundreds of miles away. Then, the center moved south of Jamaica on late Friday and by early Saturday had passed the Cayman Islands. On late Saturday, she hit the Mexico Yucatan Peninsula. The storm was the second major hurricane of the Atlantic season after Dennis; it packed sustained winds of 135 mph. The storm made landfall early Monday about 100 miles south of Cancun, and the northern “eyewall” passed right over Cozumel. There are no reports of deaths from the storm’s landfall. Tourists hoping for sun, sand and surf instead got cramped quarters, howling wind and rain at some of Mexico’s best-known resorts. “All night long, cold water was pouring in through the holes in the wall,” said one British tourist who was crammed into a temporary shelter in Cancun. About 1,000 people spent the night with him, sleeping on thin foam pads on a gymnasium floor. Emily’s brawny winds snapped concrete utility poles like twigs along a stretch of highway between Cancun and Playa del Carmen. That resort town took a beating, with plate glass windows shattered and people slogging through knee-deep water in some streets. The storm knocked out power and phone lines to much of the Yucatan coast. Hundreds of tourists rode out the storm in sweltering makeshift shelters in schools and hotel ballrooms.
Emily weakened after crossing the Yucatan Peninsula early Monday morning, but regained strength in the Gulf’s warm water. Forecasters said winds are around 90 mph, but they expect Emily to strengthen. And indeed it is strengthening as the hours go by and now its target is Brownville, Texas. The National Hurricane Center issued a hurricane warning for the lower Texas coast Tuesday as Hurricane Emily became more organized in the Gulf of Mexico. As of Wednesday morning, Emily was still a major Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 125 mph, and was moving at 8 miles per hour to the coast of northeastern Mexico.
The center of hurricane Emily was located nearly 90 miles south southeast of Matamoros Mexico and about 95 miles south southeast of Brownsville, Texas. The eye of Emily was expected to crash ashore in northeast Mexico on early Wednesday morning. Outer bands had already produced squalls across southern Texas. Wind gusts over 40 mph had been reported in Brownsville and on South Padre Island.
Hurricane warnings were posted from Port Mansfield, Texas, south to La Cruz, Mexico. A hurricane watch was still in effect from Port Mansfield north to Baffin Bay, Texas. Heavy rain, wind gusts to hurricane strength and a storm surge of 4 to 7 feet were possible along the coast from Brownsville north over Padre Island as Emily roared ashore and up to 12 feet in northern Mexico. Inland areas of south Texas received heavy rain and gusty winds to tropical storm force all through Wednesday. Forecasters predicted that flooding would be a major problem as it makes landfall, but would weaken as it goes deeper in the mainland.