As Tropical Storm Earl approaches, the Belize City Council is making preparations to ensure the safety of citizens and property. Councilor Phillip Willoughby who is in charge of City Emergency Management Organization, Flood Mitigation and Climate Change spoke with Love News about the efforts they are undertaking.
“We have been activated since yesterday. I believe we have done what needed to be done. Not to say we have gone beyond the call of duty but we have done so in many regards. We visited the flood prone and low lying areas across the city, the Jane Usher area, the Kruman Lagoon area, the Gungulung area and the Belama Phase 3 and 4. What we have done we’ve given out fliers indicating to residents to please pay attention to the weather, stay tuned to the local forecasts that are being issued via advisories from NEMO and the Met Office. We’ve advised the residents through this medium to look at their surroundings, ensure that their yards are clean, that there are no debris around that can turn into projectiles. If your trees need pruning please do so now. You have sufficient time to do that now. You know what your house can withstand in terms of wind or rain and if you know your are one of those vulnerable home owners ensure that you turn off your switch before leaving home, ensure that you cover all the important documents, use the heavy duty garbage bags and ensure that those are sealed.”
Belize City residents can still recall the effects of last year’s floods. Willoughby spoke about the efforts they have been doing in flood prone areas to encourage citizens to take precautions and move to shelters while it is still early.
“We’ve put out our teams on the north side of the city to do a comprehensive walkthrough to pick up and clean up and we’ll do so tomorrow and we hope to complete that by midday walking through to pick up and clean the city. In particular going to that Kruman Lagoon area that is a situation on it’s own. We hope that the PR that we have done since yesterday morning, last night and again this morning I went back to ensure that the residents behind there, there are about 250 homes behind there and maybe if you average out a household maybe three to five people so you could imagine how many people are behind there. The electrical network is another concern. You may recall that we had to put the government’s asset in clear and present danger in the last flood the Coast Guard and BDF had to put their boats in there to evacuate people because they didn’t want to do it voluntarily. So I hope that all that work will pay out and that the residents have listened in these low lying and flood prone areas as we get closer to the storm making what is quite likely and possibly landfall some time tomorrow evening into Thursday morning.”
Willoughby listed all the shelters that have been prepared for residents to be safe during Tropical System Earl.
“We’ve also since then likewise been preparing the shelters. So at this moment I believe we should be concluding the preparations of all shelters to be utilized when we get the green light in our deliberations with NEMO that that is a go. On South Side we have St.John’s Vianney Primary School, Maud Williams High School, Queen Square Primary School, Unity Presbyterian primary school, St.Martin Deporres, St.Luke Methodist. We have Grace Primary School, Salvation Army Primary School, Pallotti High School, ITVET Engineering Building, All Saint’s Primary School, Trinity Methodist School and we have also in our reserves if need be UB Teacher’s College.”
Willoughby stated that as soon as they receive green light from the National Emergency Management Organization to start moving residents into shelters they will do so.