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                   San Pedro Daily      

Ambergris Caye, Belize                             Saturday August 18, 2007
Belize's only Daily- Seven Days a Week





DIRECTORY
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San Pedro prepares for evacuation
When the Coast Guard boats arrive at San Pedro tomorrow they will be visiting the community that is the most susceptible to hurricanes in all of Belize. The reason? That same close-in reef and proximity to deep blue water that make Ambergris Caye such a paradise for divers and fishermen also makes it extremely vulnerable to waves and storm surge. Even a hurricane whose winds never touch the island—like Mitch in 1998—can damage or destroy almost every pier on the caye. This afternoon News Five’s Stewart Krohn spoke to the NEMO Coordinator for San Pedro and Caye Caulker, Jim Janmohamed.
James Janmohamed, NEMO Coordinator for San Pedro and Caye Caulker
“Stewart, you now realize that this is still not hit our preliminary phase line, but however, with living on an island, because of the narrow opportunity of evacuation, we have already started our meetings with both islands with their emergency committees, San Pedro Emergency Committee and Caye Caulker Emergency Committee. We have both been on radio to inform our, both the island residents that the storm of course, is approaching, and to start getting their plans in motion and getting out, and start revising them and to see that what they’re gonna do and how they gonna do it. The decisions for evacuations will probably be made late Saturday. We are in process, at the moment, of sending advisory to all the hotels, what to tell their tourists. This morning, we realized that some of the tourists in St. Lucia had been stranded because they made a decision to move themselves a little too late, and they were no aircrafts flying in, so they got stranded. And Jamaica has already started to empty it’s tourists out, so I think by tomorrow morning, or late tomorrow afternoon, we will decide to evacuate our tourists first and maybe that might happen as early as tomorrow afternoon or as late as Sunday morning.”
Stewart Krohn “In the town itself, are people starting to board up windows, and otherwise prepare themselves?
James Janmohamed
“Yea, as you drive through there’re certain people are boarding up, certain hotels have already taken it upon themselves to remove the tourists and release their staff. However, we haven’t given that notice of evacuation to anybody at the moment. It would be rather too early.”
Stewart Krohn
“Jim, when the time comes—if the time comes—where you have to do a mass evacuation of the island, do you have the air capacity and boat capacity to get everyone who want to go, off the island?”
James Janmohamed
“Yes, Stewart, once we tell them that they have to evacuate, we have ample time for evacuation and the aircraft, and the boats will be able to bring them out. However, the only problem we always face is with procrastinators, once they decide to procrastinate and not come out on time, then of course, we get into trouble. But if the people start to move when we tell them to, I believe we have the capacity to move them out.”
Stewart Krohn
“By the way, where do you move them to?”
James Janmohamed
“We’ve tried various evacuation points and the only one that seems to work the best is Belize City, the reason being that lot of the people have family and friends who pick them up and take them wherever they going. They feel more comfortable to be in a city where there is a bus transportation to various directions of the country. And lot of the people that evacuate from San Pedro of course are not indigenous to San Pedro, but are from Cayo, Corozal, Orange Walk, Punta Gorda and Dangriga. ”
Those boats and planes, it must be remembered, must also find shelter for themselves once they complete their critical evacuation work. Read More
Coast Guard will be fully deployed

It is the youngest of Belize’s uniformed services and if Dean makes even a close pass at Belize, the Coast Guard will be put to the test. But while the organisation may be new, its personnel are not.
Brig. Gen Cedric Borland, Commandant, Belize National Coastguard
“Our mission is to support NEMO, particularly with operations at sea which includes evacuations from the cayes, search and rescue, and relief support.”
Jacqueline Godwin, Reporting
Whether or not Dean hits Belize, the Belize National Coastguard has been getting ready. On Saturday, eight of vessels will be deployed at strategic locations.
Brig. Gen Cedric Borland
“We will have one in San Pedro, one in Caye Caulker. In addition to that, we’ll have a liaison officer working with their committees up there and then we’ll have two vessels assigned to assist in the evacuation. Our vessels will not be evacuating people but we’ll be supervising the evacuation. They will be on spot in case there is an emergency during the evacuation. The water taxis from those locations will be doing the evacuations.”
The coast guard will also have two vessels stationed at the base in Ladyville for other search and rescue missions.
Brig Gen. Cedric Borland
“So we will be out at sea starting tomorrow and if there is any request from any of these small islands out there, for assistance, we will be on the scene, ready to support. Since yesterday we have topped up with fuel, we’ve also replenished with our ration, with our food; so we are prepared to go.”
According to operations officer Leftenant Elton Bennett, it is expected that evacuations from San Pedro and Caye Caulker will commence as early as Saturday. He briefed us on the routes that will be used to transport people from the islands to Belize City.
Lt. Elton Bennett, Operations Officer, National Belize Coastguard
“Leaving from San Pedro at the gas station pier, moving west of Cangrejo Caye, west of Caye Caulker Caye, and through Porto Stuck and into Belize City at either Fort George pier or at the Tourism Village. Leaving from Caye Caulker, the pier near the police station, moving through Porto Stuck and into Belize City. These are the areas that people will be focussing on, patrolling in this area, ; ensuring safety of life at sea is adhered to, ensuring that the vessels are not overloaded, ensure that life jackets are available for passengers and ensuring the general safe handling of mariners during this evacuation.”
The coast guard which also has a dive team will also have another vessel deployed in Big Creek in the Stann Creek District.
Brig Gen. Cedric Borland
“I would just like to inform those out there— the mariners out— that we will be monitoring the channel sixteen, maritime radio. So if there is any need for emergency, they can contact us on the channel sixteen. In addition to that, there is the maritime emergency number which is 999, and that will go directly to the port authority and they will contact us. So that’s our means of communication during this period.
Since this morning the Belize National Coastguard recalled all of their employees who were on leave or vacation they are now getting ready for deployment over the weekend. Read More

NOTICES/LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

All parents of registered Holy Cross Anglican School students are required to attend the parent/teacher conference on August 26 at 2 pm.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
Don't take yourself so seriously.
No one else does.


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CONTACT:
PO Box 11, Coconut Drive, San Pedro,
 Ambergris Caye, Belize
Tel:  +501-226-2388 
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