A man has reportedly gone missing in the Sibun River after the boat he was in flipped. Emergency authorities began a rescue operations in the Jaguar Paw area which is yet to prove fruitful. Retired Colonel Sheldon Defore, Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Organization spoke on this issue.
Sheldon Defore, NEMO Coordinator: “We have assistance from every uniformed branch of the government if you wish that are supporting the operations on the ground including private sector. We have a rescue scenario that we’re dealing with in Jaguar Paw where three gentlemen were in a boat and I think the engine seized and so a rescue was mounted with BSRIP from Belmopan area and I understand now based on the latest update that I’ve received that Astrum Helicopter will be engaged or involved to locate the persons. The initial report had indicated that two persons may have reached to safety but one was seen going down stream with the boat and this is further to caution the general public that when advisories go out we beg and ask people to listen to heed the advice and warning from NEMO. Any area where it’s raining heavy for a consistent period and you’re near a river or a creek, some water source there’s a high probability that that water source will flood. If you engage in activities in that water source you’re putting your lives and your property at risk so we are imploring and asking and begging people do not use the water ways in the districts of Cayo, Stann Creek, Toledo and Belize because we are at flood stage. The rivers are rising and they’re posing risk to human life and to property. So if people adhere to the warning and listen and follow what we are advising them to do we’ll minimize the situations that we’re facing right now in terms of people being severely displaced or inconvenienced or needing to rescued and things like that so it’s a cry for people to listen and adhere to the warnings and notices being issued by NEMO and the National Met Service. We ask that the general public take these warnings and alerts and notices very seriously when we issue them.”
Colonel Defore explained that relief has been distributed in various areas where families have been displaced. He added that NEMO has been working tirelessly with their partners to assist persons that were affected by Hurricane Eta and now the rains from Hurricane Iota.
Sheldon Defore, NEMO Coordinator: “We are providing the standard emergency food packs to families that are affected by the flood which is the NEMO family packs that have the basic food items in it so that people could have something to eat and survive including water and stuff like that. We’re also issuing hygiene kits and as the demand comes in we are looking at how we can better supply the affected population. So it’s a constant assessment and relief operation that we are engaged in at this time. It is a massive multi sectoral, multi agency operation because we have assistance from every uniformed branch of the government if you wish that are supporting the operations on the ground including private sector. We’re getting assistance from the British, we’re getting assistance from the US Embassy, we’re getting assistance and pledges from the Mexican embassy, from Brazil so a lot of the international partners that support NEMO – we have heard of a donation and support as well from the Government of Taiwan and so we are getting some of the assistance that are required. We now need for people to do their part and to ensure that they are moving out of harms way because the last thing that we want is loss of life. Inconvenience and displacement we will recoup from that once the water subsides and recedes in the coming days. Fortunately the impact from Hurricane Iota or the remnants of it doesn’t seem as if though it will be as bad as Hurricane Eta however the impact from Eta is still with us so whatever residual or minimal impact if we want to analyze it in that manner will fall or affect Belize it means it is almost doubling the effects because we are now facing the runoff of waters from two tropical cyclones.”