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Jun 13, 2018

Civic Center is Green Lighted by NEMO for Emergency Operations during Natural Disasters

Sporting and other activities have already been put off at the Civic Center in Belize City where sport aficionados have been enjoying the comfort of the multipurpose facility. Today, the state of readiness of the civic center was being assessed by a number of agencies including the police department, coastguard and B.D.F. should an emergency arise. At the end of a tour headed by NEMO, the civic center got the nod of approval after it was found to be in top shape. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

With the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season underway, the National Emergency Management Organization, NEMO, has been busy ensuring that all preparations are being made in the event that Belize is hit by a severe weather system.  Part of that groundwork includes a tour of the Belize City Civic Center which will be used as the nerve center for emergency operations should a storm come our way in the months ahead.  After a site visit earlier today, NEMO Minister Edmond Castro says that the building is clear for crisis management, especially for medical services.

 

Edmond ‘Clear the Land’ Castro

Edmond ‘Clear the Land’ Castro, NEMO Minister

“You’ll be able to conduct emergency surgery, you’ll be able to operate as a full-fledged hospital, childbirth, child delivery, this and that.  So I think that for the first time we have a facility that the medical people from K.H.M.H., the matrons, the C.E.O., find that is best suited for that kind of thing.  Even the ramp that could bring up patients in their beds and that kind of thing.  Mein, it’s a remarkable building, it’s nice.  I believe that with the generator that is housed here with ten thousand gallons of fuel.  It can actually operate the entire building for up to two weeks.”

 

The walkthrough inside the mammoth structure saw a team of officials attached to both local and central governments, exploring the facility.  Deputy Mayor Oscar Arnold was part of that mission.  The Belize City Council has its reservations on the use of the building because it also wants the City Emergency Management Organization, CEMO, housed at this location.

 

Oscar Arnold

Oscar Arnold, Deputy Mayor, Belize City

“The situation is still one in flux, it hasn’t been ironed out.  The mayor had sent out a correspondence to Colonel Dafour, the NEMO coordinator, stating that based on what is going to be housed here with the security forces, the people from over at Karl Heusner that this would be a great place to have the EOC [Emergency Operations Center] for Belize City to serve the eighty thousand residents that we have.”

 

Reporter

“Do you think that it will be favorably received, that you will receive something in black and white saying that this will be the city’s EOC if a storm should hit?”

 

Oscar Arnold

“That is not up to us.  We are hoping that cooler heads will prevail.  The minister did have a discussion with me today and he’s saying that the possibility looks good.  Obviously he has to go back and talk to his technical people and I’m hoping that we can get it ironed out soon because we’re already in the start of the season, as you rightly said.”

 

According to Castro, while CEMO is a subset of the larger emergency management apparatus, the use of the Civic should be for rendering humanitarian aid to those in need of medical assistance.  In that light, it should not be used strictly as an emergency operations center.

 

Edmond Castro

“CEMO falls under NEMO and actually with two or three thousand people here we will have to have some kind of command center.  It might not be the best suited to be used strictly for an EOC.  I think it’s best suited for the most vulnerable, those who are in hospitals, people going through childbirth and asthma and the whole emergency situation.  So I think it’s best suited for that and also to have the security forces housed here and we will see where this takes us and we will try to work with CEMO and then see how best we could resolve the situation.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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