The Belize Red Cross joins the City Council and NEMO in raising local awareness of hurricanes and particularly plans for evacuation and shelters. At an event on Thursday at City Hall Director General Lily Bowman described the origin of the plan.
In the last three years, Belize has been affected by two events that caused various degrees of damage to the country. This was Hurricane Richard in 2010, and more recently Ernesto in 2012, which caused a lot of flooding in the north and the northern district in Corozal. It dumped heavy rains, and brought heavy rains to Belize City. After several assessments done in communities that we have worked with since then, Jane Usher community, Western Paradise, Belama, Ladyville, and so forth, which are not all in the city, but still we’re considering it as urban, and comparing notes with the CEMO assessments, we found out that there is a main problem in Belize City which is the lack of planned and established evacuation routes. This is to guide the swift movement of people who have to evacuate the city in times of disaster of a Category 2 Hurricane and above. Information and evacuation routes that have recently been established by the CEMO and the assembly points from the various areas in the city need to be prominently identified throughout the city and not only in the Hurricane Season but we believe that throughout all year round. It is very important for this to be evident and for people to know where they are. We also saw it necessary to put up big billboards in ten constituencies.
Fred Hunter of the Red Cross shares more details.
This project of setting up the evacuation routes, CEMO had already mapped out the best evacuation routes in and out of the City as in time of disaster. We managed to find the funding to assist with the building up of a signage for the proper marking of the routes, as well as the points where people would congregate, to be transported or evacuated out of the City.
And former Police Commissioner Crispin Jeffries, now working in the office of NEMO Coordinator Noreen Fairweather, says the project will depend on the effort of City residents to respect the billboards and signs being put in place over the next four months.
As it related to the evacuation routes and assembly points, we believe that the assembly points will have to be continuously monitored not only for their state of readiness, but also for the maintenance of the signage, because we have a culture where we destroy useful things when they’re out of season. So I ask one and all to support NEMO and be a part of NEMO, as you are, in ensuring that the signs are available and they maintain their appearance and position where they’re placed, so as to keep people informed, or at least to display our sense of concern for our safety, rather than our destructive behavior.
Funding for the project was provided by the International Committee of the Red Cross.