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Aug 7, 2012

San Pedro residents evacuate inland while others move to shelters

Close to a thousand residents and tourists evacuated the island of Ambergris Caye today, a majority of whom left San Pedro Town by noon to seek shelter on mainland Belize.  Water taxis ferried passengers from San Pedro and Caye Caulker to Belize City as Tropical Storm Ernesto, later upgraded to a category one hurricane, made its way north towards the Yucatan Peninsula.  While hundreds fled during the exodus this morning, the island-based arm of the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) wasted no time conducting preliminary assessments of the island prior to the passage of the weather system.  Minister of Tourism Manuel Heredia, a member of the NEMO committee, as well as Daniel Guerrero, Mayor of San Pedro, embarked on a brief tour along with several councilors before effecting a curfew which begins at ten o’clock tonight.


Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism, Member of NEMO Committee

“The purpose of the tour is to assess how everything is at the moment so that at the end of the weather we can identify exactly what went wrong, what happened. And that is what here and the councilors and myself decide to do at this point. We have seen at the beach a little early that there has been quite a bit of erosion. We have taken some precaution as from yesterday with the boats, travelling from twelve today, the bars were asked to close; no alcohol is being sold at the moment. And tonight at ten, everybody is asked to stay off the street. Anyone that doesn’t have a valid reason to be on the street will be picked up and taken to the station until tomorrow.”


Jorge Aldana

“Mister Mayor over a thousand persons evacuated; do you think that the island is ready for whatever might happen between six o’clock and six tomorrow morning?”


Daniel Guerrero, Mayor of San Pedro

“Yes I think so because the hurricane is category one and the island is prepared. The people have been advised; we have been working and the NEMO has been cooperating and advice has been coming out since yesterday and I see people really cooperating on both of our… people have been calling with concerns on this or the other. People are cooperating with NEMO and the council.”


Jorge Aldana

“So would you say that the necessary preparations were made in terms of people protecting their lives and property?”


Daniel Guerrero

“Yes, yes. I see a lot of people boarding out their houses, taking care of their vehicles, boats. Everything, I think people are prepared.”


Five shelters were opened at two p.m.—the San Pedro High School, the New Horizon, the Evangelical Church, the Living Word and the Shalom Adventist.

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