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Sep 1, 2020

Belize is Under a Hurricane Watch – NEMO is Activated!

So you heard from the National Met Service and what you can expect. And now, we turn to the National Emergency Management Organization.  Late this evening, we spoke with Shelton Defour, the National Coordinator of NEMO.  Defour says that earlier this evening, NEMO issued a tropical storm warning for Belize City and the cayes, and a hurricane watch for the rest of the country.  This warning, according to NEMO, is that the storm is closer to Belize and the threat is imminent – that it will make landfall based on projections.  All day, NEMO has been planning and mobilizing their teams.  Defour outlines some of the main points coming out of a meeting late this evening; among those concerns are COVID-19, supplies and transportation. He says that while things are different under a pandemic, NEMO is hard at work to respond to this national emergency.


Shelton Defour

On the Phone: Shelton Defour, National Coordinator, NEMO

“The key things discussed were COVID-19 concerns and health issues once we open shelters; possible evacuations depending on what the tropical storm turns out to be by tomorrow morning. We discussed mile thirty-eight on the George Price Highway culvert where Ministry of Works representatives assured us that a team was out there dealing with that matter expeditiously to convert that to a two lane. So, we have been apprised that the work is underway and that is good. We look at the shelter plan that we have and the human resource requirement. We know that there will be some challenges because we are operating for the first time in a COVID-19 environment, so there will not be that kind of luxury for low risk so to speak. But because we are providing, as best as we can through the Ministry of Health, PPEs and will ensure that the public officers go through stringent protocols and should be able to overcome the challenges that we will be faced with in shelter management. This is a first for Belize so this will be challenging. We have confidence that the public officers once properly briefed and equip will participate.  We looked at the relief supplies in terms of feeding and what we have in our warehouses and what we need to procure. And so the relief supplies committee had a meeting this afternoon, led by the Ministry of Human Development. That is one thing I would like to add that when you see Human Development doing certain things, they are actually NEMO and they are responsible for the national relief and supplies management committee of NEMO. So, they are engaged and making the preparations. A week or so ago we did a radio check with our high frequency radio system across the country and we spoke to everybody. So, we have that integrated communication to speak to police to B.D.F. and so we have the communication capacity to use backup communication in the event. We looked at the Ministry of Health needs and the transportation for the national committees that some need government coordinated transportation to be able to deploy to do certain work in particular the damage assessment committee that requires certain equipment. So, we went through committee by committee – alert warning, education, evacuation, transportation, housing and shelter, medical care and public health, damage assessment, search and rescue with the B.D.F.  So, the wheels of NEMO are turning.”

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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