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Nov 21, 2012

CEMO looks for disabled people to help in times of disaster

The hurricane season is almost over, but City Hall is preparing for any upcoming natural disasters. This afternoon it was announced that CEMO will be collecting data about persons with disabilities who require assistance in times of natural disasters. CEMO says that a hundred and thirty students from Saint John’s College will conduct the survey on Saint John Berchman Day. News Five’s Jose Sanchez has the story.


Jose Sanchez, Reporting

The Belize City Council is the first municipal body to engage in a risk and vulnerability data collection that focuses on disabled persons.


Philip Willoughby, CEMO

Philip Willoughby

“You may ask why not use data from other agencies that may have such information. Well it is because the information si highly sensitive and are confidential. Our information gathering form will be less sensitive as you all have seen.  This particular form was sent over the National Emergency Management Organization that we received from BAPDA. It was reviewed for approval, tweaked and we now have the final product before you. It’s a risk assessment survey; generally speaking, it encompasses the Belama area. One of the core features of the risk assessment survey is to create a register of persons living with disabilities or chronic medical conditions. As I stated in the overview, we had numerous called coming into our E.O.C. of from persons with some type of disability or chronic medical condition and I am saying that we need to know what is out there so that we can build the capacity and capability in assisting those persons during a disaster.”


Noreen Fairweather

Noreen Fairweather, NEMO

“This information will contribute significantly to what is being developed at a national level looking at risk and vulnerable communities—whether they are by location or whether they are by groups of people that may have disabilities or challenges. This particular exercise will identify those persons so that in the event there is a need to ensure that they are relocated or evacuated to a safer place; we know exactly where they are and where they are going to be. To the extent that they will need medication, etc., we will have that information and we can better serve our people. At the end of the day, the mission of NEMO as the National Emergency Management Organization is to preserve life and property and while it might be a very simple statement, it is weighty in terms of what it means that we have to do and as we move forward our main focus is to look at mitigation and risk reduction.  As I indicated before, there is no stopping or control over the hazards; they will come. The storms will come, the floods will happen, but it is how prepared we are.”


And while some may question the relevancy of questions such as level of education, types of work, number of cell phones and computers in a household, it is that information that will be compiled and analyzed on how to best help citizens in particular areas when disaster strikes.


Wayne Usher

Wayne Usher, CEMO

“When we started the initiative it did begin with persons with disability and we have not lost track of that at all; it is still in the initiative. But when we were progressing with plans and the human development department personnel came on board—this was just last week—they are very professional in doing surveys. We sort of stepped aside to their better judgment as to how best to do it because we are non-professionals in terms of doing surveys.”


Noreen Fairweather

“We need to know what are the characteristics, we need to know in terms of your water and sewage situation; how you dispose of your waste because if there is a flooding. We all know, in particular Belize City, if you get point five inches of rain and they’re going to be flooding in Belize City. those water and sewer conditions can create health hazards. We need to know those. We need to know source of drinking water—whether people have portable water. And the councilor mentioned some household appliances that they are referring to. The cell phone, in particular, is one of the ways that we have launched to give notices to people. Both the service providers—B.T.L. and Smart—we have started discussions with how we can send out early warning messages to people different levels. If we know people can receive these messages, the more people we can communicate with.”


The survey will take place in the Belama Phase three and four areas on November twenty-sixth with the assistance of over one hundred and thirty SJC fourth form students. Reporting for News Five, Jose Sanchez.

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1 Response for “CEMO looks for disabled people to help in times of disaster”

  1. Storm says:

    This sounds like a worthy project. I hope it is completed, and done well.

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