Thursday, April 18, 2024

BCCI and NEMO hold workshop on natural disasters for San Pedro business community


Belize Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) organized an educational session with members of the San Pedro business community regarding natural disasters. In collaboration with the National Emergency Organization (NEMO), the two-part workshop was held on Wednesday, April 18th at the Sunbreeze Hotel. The presentations focused on preparing the business sector in damage assessment, needs analysis and emergency operations management while garnering feedback and concerns from the specific sectors.
A handful of managerial personnel from different business establishments on the island attended the workshop. Welcoming everyone was Keisha Reyes Membership Programs Officer at BCCI. She thanked everyone for attending and then allowed the presenters to start the workshop.
Initiating the session was NEMO Central Regional Coordinator, Al Westby, who explained the need to have a plan of action when dealing with natural disasters, such as hurricanes. He spoke about the assessment procedure that starts with the setting up of a collation center. According to his presentation, this mechanism that is created by personnel of any business institution will identify, collect, interpret and analyze the data. He urged everyone to have an emergency plan, especially hotels, who need to know how to deal with the guests. The overall goal is for businesses to have a plan to secure their property and employees and most importantly to save lives.
NEMO Coordinator for Belize Rural South, Vanessa Parham then explained the functions of the Emergency Operation Centre (EOC) which according to her is quickly activated in the wake of an imminent natural disaster. Parham explained that the EOC’s provides a safe and functional space to coordinate emergency/ disaster response and recovery efforts. “The main threats to the island are hurricanes, but now we have the possibility of tsunamis added to the list as we are surrounded by water,” said Parham. Parham referred to the tsunami warning that was issued on Tuesday, January 9th at 8:51PM after an offshore earthquake was experienced in nearby Bay of Honduras. “In such cases, we need to act fast as we only have seconds to respond when an unexpected phenomenon like a Tsunami takes places. You should advise your employees, people, and loved ones to get to safer and higher grounds as soon as possible,” said Parham. She added that during the tsunami warning in January many island residents rushed to the beaches to see if the water was receding, and that was considered extremely dangerous. Instead, people should have sought higher grounds. “We continue to ensure collaborative efforts with the entire community and capitalize to be efficient and effective as we make all necessary preparations for the upcoming hurricane season,” Parham added.
With the 2018 Hurricane Season fast approaching, the business sector was encouraged to visit their plans of action, in order to be prepared for the unexpected. The local NEMO branch on the island informs the public that they are ready to assist and provide the necessary mechanisms to avoid tragedy and help potential victims of a hurricane, earthquakes, tsunamis or another natural disaster. For more information NEMO coordinator of Belize Rural South, Vanessa Parham can be contacted at 632-3698 or via email at [email protected].
A similar workshop was held in Belize City on Wednesday, April 11th, and another will be held at the Placencia Southern Environmental Association conference room on Wednesday, May 16, 2018.

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