Coast Guard Officers Assist in Restoring Belize City
The Belize Coast Guard continues to play a crucial part in the rebuilding and restoration efforts in Belize City and other areas following Hurricane Lisa. Coast Guard officers are expected to be on the ground for the next couple of days as part of the relief effort. Commandant, Rear Admiral Elton Bennett says that humanitarian effort is a big part of the coast guard mission.
Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “We were called out by NEMO directive sent over to the Ministry of Defence that the concentration of forces must be within Belize City. Immediately we marshaled all personnel who were available to work and within twenty four hours we descended on Belize City in numbers. We started off twenty four hours after the all clear was given in Belize City with a small number and then we increased. We started off with a small EOC team that assisted with damage assessment thereafter we provided personelle on the ground to work with the clean up effort and with the distribution of relief supplies. So what started off as initially an understanding and an assessment of what was going on into Belize City quickly translated into personnel working relief supplies and cleaning up Belize City. So throughout the weekend we had on an average day a 150-160 personnel doing a series of jobs within Belize City. That effort expanded into Ladyville who reported that they also received some serious damages and required some military support as well so we’re doing Belize City we spread out into Ladyville as well and we’re all the way up the Belize River Valley into Lemonal. We’re doing Ladyville, Hattieville, Freetown Sibun area providing support to all of those communities that are affected. So through the NEMO umbrella our personnel are assigned to do whatever task is required. I think therefore it is well organized, well coordinated. We know exactly where to report, when to report, what do you think we’ll be taking on tomorrow for the next operating period. So from what I see the efforts working together with NEMO and the other agencies is a well coordinated effort.”
Bennett explains how important it is for the country to unite during a time of disaster.
Rear Admiral Elton Bennett, Commandant, Belize Coast Guard: “Operating as a team providing disaster relief to our community it’s the same spirit of what we do in our humanitarian effort. The humanitarian mission is a big part of what we do. Normally at sea we’re doing search and rescue supporting and saving lives at sea this is what we’re doing here in Belize City working in support of the community. So in a humanitarian sense this is well within the Coast Guard mission. We’ve seen individuals that are affected welcome the Coast Guard into their sphere of dwelling delivering supplies not only dropping supplies in front of people’s houses but getting inside their homes, having a chat with them. So we’ve seen a good sense of appreciation from those who are affected. I’ve never seen a well coordinated operation like this. When I say coordinated not only on the government’s part but the individual’s part, neighborhood, public private sector coming together, government agencies working together under one umbrella in order to achieve one effort. I’ve never seen this before. I’ve never seen a drive like this before. I’ve been through quite a bit of hurricanes being in the service for over twenty five years I’ve seen quite a bit of hurricanes passing through the country and disaster relief operations but this seems to be an operation that seems to have brought us together. The community working together, the different government agencies working together and we all understand the importance of working together in order to achieve the objective of getting back to normal as soon as possible. So I think there’s an effort from everyone we want to get back to normal, I’m not sure if COVID had something to do with that that we do realize that we need each other in order to achieve those missions so what we’ve seen is really a united effort across those affected areas in order to make that effort to get back to normal.”