NEMO encourages Disaster Preparedness

This year the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO) works under the theme, ”Reducing the Threat from Climate Change, Disaster Preparedness begins with you”. Senator the Hon. Godwin Hulse in his briefing today was very clear on the “begins with you” part.

Godwin Hulse – Senator:
vlcsnap-2013-05-30-20h59m53s77The state is prepared to assist all the individuals of this country to be safe, in the event of a disaster; prepared to assist, to be a safe as possible. The state cannot and will not save your life, that is for God and we take no such credit. I open with that because too many times, there is the misconception that – “Well, there is a hurricane coming, weh unu di do?” And I want the public who sees this tonight, to understand, it is what you will do for yourself, because it is your responsibility to preserve as best as possible, your own life and to help to prevent accidents to yourself and to look after your property. The state is prepared to assist and will do everything possible to help – is the operative word – that means that when we say it is time to move, get moving. We will not go back to or three times to assist you, if we get there and you say “Chu man, me nu gwen no way.” We will not return and my predecessor who carries my same name said – IO said that last year and that is rough. It is not rough, it is factual, because we cannot put the lives of our operatives in danger, when you are resistant to being assisted.

Whenever there is threat of flood or persons need to be relocated due to a storm, the place indentified to provide that temporary safety is known as a Hurricane Shelter. According to Hulse, they cannot guarantee that that shelter will be able to withstand a Category 4 or 5 Hurricane.

Godwin Hulse – Senator: 
We do not guarantee that the shelter you go to will withstand category 4 or 5 hurricanes. As you know, the shelters are schools, churches, community centers, none of which NEMO built. We fund them;this is our Belize. We do not necessarily adhere to all the construction standards that we should. So while NEMO has put its best to ensure that its shelters and reasonably safe, we do not guarantee the shelters. We say they are better than where you live and that is why we ask you to move. Some may be at higher ground and you are subject to flooding and those shelters may not be. Some are better to withstand the winds. Hopefully, as we become a very wealthy nation, hopefully, in my lifetime, we can build some good regional shelters centers that as best as possible, we will not defy God, but we will tell you they will withstand category 5 hurricanes.

The Minister was unyielding in regards to employers who insist on keep employees at work after NEMO has given the advisory for person to be sent home to secure their belonging.

Godwin Hulse – Senator: 
NEMOI want to appeal to employers, particularly employers, who are not cognizant with our Belizean culture and particularly many store owners who think that their mighty dollar is better and more important that the lives of our people. When we say that you close and we want your people to go home, they will go home; send them home – that is important to remember. Some years ago, one of the storms in the south, I think it was Iris, a boat operator who thought he could defy God refused to allow some of his employees to go and those who left he said were fired. Thank goodness they left, they preserved their lives; you know the story there. So when we ask you to move, you move. We do not yet have legislations in place and we are working with the Chamber of Commerce and the Unions to see how we can do this. Because we do understand that there is an economic cost, but the importance of life ranks far higher than any economic cost.

A common occurrence which needs to be minimized and discontinued is the reporting of and listening to information from other persons which has not been released by NEMO officials. Senator Hulse says to hear for yourself and listen only to the official report.

Godwin Hulse – Senator: 
Listen to the official and only the official report. My NEC said it’s okay to listen to CNN and The Weather Channel and even the local experts, but remember, the official advisory comes from the MET Department, through NEMO. So let us not be our own meteorologist; have our friend next door – “It’s a foggy morning, so we know eh wa hot, the breeze nu blow, the coconut tree dey nu di shake.” So lets listen to when we get that report, because the local station with our radars and everything monitors that storm exactly. For those of you who are cognizant of The Weather Channel and CNN, they span Belize somewhere from Nicaragua up to the Yucatan Peninsula and we are somewhere in between there, we hardly ever get direct mention and worst they never heard of Crooked Tree, or Hattieville. And I want to appeal, especially to you the media, not to encourage the sideline reporters who are experts; whether they were former meteorological officers or otherwise, it doesn’t matter. The official report is coming from our people through NEMO, no disrespect intended.

While the Hurricane Season does not open for another two days we note that two weather systems have already formed; namely Andrea and Barbara. International media reports that Barbara strengthened into a Hurricane just before 2pm yesterday afternoon with maximum sustained winds near 75 mph. Three hours later Barbara made landfall in Oaxaca and Western Chiapas, Mexico where at least two persons have reportedly died. Barbara has now been reduced to a tropical depression as of 5 am Thursday.

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