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Aug 2, 2016

CEMO Prepares for Earl’s Landfall in Flood Prone Areas of the City

With Tropical Storm Earl approaching the country, preparations are well underway to counter the effects of the storm. Today, CEMO/NEMO were have been meeting with the relevant agencies, putting in place what is necessary to provide shelter and prevent casualties. One area that is expected to flood is at Krooman Lagoon in the city. That’s where News Five’s Duane Moody caught up with City Councilor Phillip Willoughby as well as with residents of the community.

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Within the next twenty-four hours, Tropical Storm Earl becomes a very real and very dangerous threat to Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula. The trajectory of the system puts Belize well in its path and since Sunday, the local City Emergency Management Organization, CEMO, as well as NEMO have been activated and on alert. Today, the Emergency Operation Center is temporarily based at the City Hall in Belize City; public officers from various departments as well as N.G.O.s such as the Red Cross have convened to make final preparations in lieu of the eventuality.

 

Phillip Willoughby, CEMO

“Look at your surroundings, prepare your surroundings, clean up your surroundings; call the City Council…contact the contractors that provides the sanitation services to ask you to remove debris that is around you because wind is a factor and if there are debris around. If there are trees or vegetation that needs to be manicured or cut or limb, do so now. We have a window of opportunity to do so and do so very quickly. Also if you could clean in front of your yard, if needs be, let’s do that. Secure your items in your homes—documents, medical supplies, whatever your things to go back to school—be prepared. If you can’t use a Ziploc bag, use the heavy duty garbage bags; put it in jars, bottles seal it…ensure it is sealed.”

 

Back in October of last year, a phenomenal downpour flooded the Old Capital, displacing many families across the city in areas that weren’t traditionally known as flood prone areas. Since Sunday, Willoughby and his team at CEMO have been making the rounds in areas that were affected, advising residents to take precautionary measures before the storm is atop us.

 

Phillip Willoughby

Phillip Willoughby

“This situation here now…yesterday we did a walkthrough. We came, house to house—I did it personally—because I know as you can see the challenges that would be faced if this system continues on its path towards Belize City. So I came we went house to house, we knocked door to door to advice and warn all the residents in this area. We then returned last evening with a flyer in both English and Spanish to advice the residents to stay tuned to the NEMO advisors via the radio or the television newscasts. And listen and adhere to these warnings. This was done in the Jane Usher Boulevard area, in this Krooman Lagoon, Pelican Extension area; the Gungulung area, Belamas Three and Four.”

 

But there are some real hazards in the Krooman Lagoon area, a dangerous trek at that. A shocking reality, but the area is almost like a village; the unstable and uneven pathways created by overlaying pallets extend to almost a mile into the lagoon off Antelope Street Extension. A network of electrical wiring feeds current to the individual homes that are hoisted on wooden posts. Access to the houses is a real challenge and despite that, today, we saw several persons filling up their gas tanks, choosing to weather the storm inside their homes.

 

Phillip Willoughby

“During the last disaster, at the eleventh hour, everyone was packed up, some maybe on house tops and verandahs waiting on the government assents. And let me speak to the government assets. The coastguard and the B.D.F. had to be called in with their vessels to come back here and maneuver to evacuate residents from within this area. Now in clear and present danger under those circumstances and given the conditions of this system—as we don’t know if it will be a tropical depression, if it will break down to an area of low depression, if it even will become a hurricane—we don’t know; there is a grey area of uncertainty until we get the proper advisory and information from NEMO to say what it is as it morph. As I said, ear on the side of caution, don’t wait until the eleventh hour to decide that it is now because we are exposing the government assets, the government’s resources, the government’s human resource personnel and those monies could have been used to put in other areas to assist in dealing with any other situation.”

 

With evacuation efforts already in place and shelters in a state of readiness, are residents prepared for the inevitable?

 

Javier Perez, Resident, Krooman Lagoon Area

“Yes I am prepared. I just want to come out the most possible from here quick.”

 

Duane Moody

“Do you think that the storm is going to come?”

 

Javier Perez

Javier Perez

“Yes, I think so.”

 

Duane Moody

“So how prepared are you?”

 

Javier Perez

“Not really prepared, prepared. But I know that I’m really gonna come out from here.”

 

Melida Jimenez

Melida Jimenez, Resident, Krooman Lagoon Area

“I have to work and then my kids stay home so when I come home in the evening, I will have to prepare a little bit.”

 

Duane Moody

“So you have bought your little groceries, pack up your stuff?”

 

Melida Jimenez

“Well I noh really pack up with groceries yet because I di watch the weather between this evening so we wah try prepare a little bit.”

 

Duane Moody

“Do you have a fear because just last year in October there was flooding just by rains that happened in this area? Were you affected then and is there a fear that if this weather comes it will be the same thing.”

 

Melida Jimenez

“If this weather come, it might be the same thing and then we have to spend again. Because lately like weh yo say again, the weather passed and we have to repair. I mi had to repair my house and everything, but that dah God’s works right. So whatever happens we just have to live with it.”

 

Duane Moody for News Five.

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