In the aftermath of San Pedro’s tragic weekend fire which destroyed a total of 10 homes, over 80 persons were left displaced. Those families have since been provided with food, shelter and clothing from various entities, including N.E.M.O, NGO’s and business owners. San Pedro’s area representative, Hon.Manuel Heredia, was present at a BTB press conference earlier today where the media took the opportunity to ask about the fire and relief efforts underway. Minister Heredia indicated that more help is on the way for those affected by the fire. He added that the Government of Belize, this week, agreed to purchase two new portable water pumps and two larger water tanks for the island.
Hon. Jose Manuel Heredia Jr., Area Representative Belize Rural North : San Pedro is known to be the most united community ion the whole of Belize and every time that there has been a disaster, our people will come together to and try to do as much as possible to make sure that we can bring relief to the families affected. This one is no different. NEMO yesterday delivered to the families a number of mattresses, stoves, utensils, food packages and we are drumming up for a radioton shortly, which is where we’ll recruit the most amount of money to be able to be able to give them a start to build back. The business community have also been responding, I know that there have been an amount of food that can feed all of the people affected every day. Hope Havens, which is where the needy children are put, they are also receiving relief materials to make sure that every day these people are taken care of. And I believe that also the government yesterday agreed that it will do its part in purchasing portable pumps and probably a water truck that can hold probably three thousand or four thousand gallons which can be easily manoeuvred than a fire truck. Even though BTL had pledged to donate a fire engine already, the government will still do its part to make sure we are reinforced. The idea is to have probably a portable pump on the Northern part, one on the Southern part and the basin at the centre, so that wherever it happens they can start from there and they can come together and do a better job than what is happening now.
As was reported, the island was affected in similar manner by a block fire in July of 2016. In the aftermath of that 2016 fire, the residents of San Pedro were promised upgraded fire equipment as wewll, but that never happened. Heredia admitted that more should have been done from before, even though he says now is not too late.
Hon. Jose Manuel Heredia Jr., Area Representative Belize Rural North: I will agree with you that probably more should have been done from before, but it’s not too late. But I must admit that there might be negligence from several sectors of the community that caused this problem. But nonetheless, I believe that like I said you always learn from mistakes and this is one time that I believe that you will see quick action from local authorities, from government and from the community itself.
Hon. Jose Manuel Heredia Jr., Minister of Tourism and Civil Aviation: Well, that might be an answer. You know when things occur so many suggestions will come along, but at the end of the day we are supposed to work with the technical people that actually know what is needed, what is best fitted for the Island. And I’m sure that this is one time that we will gather all the expertise and come up with something that will be viable for the island.
Heredia added that the island has encountered various challenges with its fast pace development.
Hon. Jose Manuel Heredia Jr., Area Representative Belize Rural North: San Pedro is a vast growing community. We all know that it is one of the most fast developing in the whole country of Belize. We have about 27,000 residents now and it is growing at a pace that probably no other part of Belize is growing. And there are the challenges, but again many times not because you might regard that as the poorer area or so but there is negligent sometimes on the part of the residents themselves. That they might leave their children playing over there with matches or other things like that and that also I believe that we have to start to educate parents that they have to be more careful with their homes, their kids and everything that is around that can cause these fires to happen.