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May 30, 2019

CEMO Kicks off 2019 Hurricane Season

The 2019 Atlantic Hurricane Season begins on Saturday and for the next six months the City Emergency Management Organization will remain on standby should a storm head towards the Old Capital.  This morning, the Belize City Council officially opened the hurricane season with a press conference during which the public was updated on the existing shelters across Belize City, as well as an emergency plan in case of an eventuality.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the following story.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The 2019 hurricane season begins on June first and the Belize City Council which heads the City Emergency Management Organization, CEMO, has wasted no time in preparing ahead, in the event of an imminent weather system.


Bernard Wagner

Bernard Wagner, Belize City Mayor

“Through the combined initiative of the City Emergency Management Organization, CEMO, and the National Emergency Management Organization, NEMO, and other partners, we’ve designed a holistic preparedness program in anticipation of the upcoming 2019 hurricane season.  At the start of this year, we directed our focus towards enhancing our strategies of our government, our organization and our communities who act as frontline responders in times of emergency.  The idea was to target response mechanisms and procedures, ensuring that we have the public education campaign.  We went through some simulations as well and we mapped out a short and long-term mitigation program and we also enhanced our early warning systems.”


While the country was spared of any dangers last year, getting ready and putting in place a plan of action is an annual exercise during the months of June and November.  Councilor Michael Noralez who is responsible for CEMO acknowledges that preparedness begins at home.


Michael Noralez

Michael Noralez, Councilor Responsible for CEMO

“I would encourage all members of CEMO and NEMO to implore on all Belizeans that emergency begins with you.  Have your plan, your personal plan should shadow what NEMO does, that way we could synchronize and make sure everything happens. So with all the people who have been working and have been sitting in meetings, we have arguments.  Yes, even in a family you have an argument but you sit and you work it out because it is all about serving the people of this city when it comes to emergency.  We are aware of all the flood prone areas, we are aware of areas that are very vulnerable to other disasters.”


Part of that preparedness is unearthing various canals and waterways across Belize City.  It’s an undertaking that the Belize City Council began working on in April.


Bernard Wagner

“About a month or so ago we started dredging of canals.  We felt that that was a very important component in ensuring that we mitigate flooding, so we have been able to do the North Creek, South Creek, we also did Z-Town Canal, we did East Canal and West Canal and also in the Gungulung area.  When we looked at those canals it was six feet deep but has five feet of sludge, something that has not been done for years and so as a part of ensuring that we mitigate against flooding and when the rains came we thought that it was very important to get those canals dredged before the rainy season and before the hurricane season commenced.”


According to Mayor Wagner, CEMO will be housed at the new City Hall and in the event of a major storm, will be relocated to the Belize City Civic Center. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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