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Emergency Minister: Tsunami Scare An Eye - Opener
Wed, January 10, 2018

Last night's tsunami scare was a first for almost all of us including Minister Of National Emergency Management Edmond Castro. He confessed that he was not even aware that there was a Tsunami Centre monitoring Belize's waters for possible threats. He told us how last night's event has now opened his eyes to this very real threat of this fast moving disaster that can hit Belize:

Hon. Edmund Castro  - Minister of National Emergency Management
"This is the first of its kind for us like I said last night I did not even know we had a tsunami center in this Pacific region. I knew about the hurricane center that updates us and so for Belize for me as the minister responsible for NEMO, this is a new wave now that we will have to look at when there is an earthquake especially in the ocean. We have to prepare ourselves for this kind of disaster that may come our way. How prepared are we? We are as prepared as we could be. From the National Emergency Point of View in terms of warning the residents and the people in this country. Those along the coast to move to a safer grounds and that kind of thing. However, we had never experienced tsunami like what we have seen in Asia. Because the center had advised us it should only arrive with about three feet of water in some area it would be more. It depends on the basin where we are at. It was not as bad if it had arrived on our shores but this is something that can be very devastating. Looking from what we have seen from tsunami experience from around the world no second story building will be able to hold you if it is bringing 10, 20, 30 feet of water. There is no way any of us in the Caribbean and this region will be able to have a building that might stand up to that kind of disaster."

"We have a chain that we operate on. The whole structure. NEMO structure ties into chief MET, the MET department, and since the tsunami centers contacted the chief met to warn the residents of this country for the entire coastline of Belize for a possible Tsunami watch. They had extended that not just to Belize. Honduras and the rest of the Caribbean including Jamaica. They were monitoring the swells of the ocean because they have their satellites and monitors so they were able to determine immediately the distance from where the earthquake shook to Belize. The height of waves that we might experience so they kept in touch with us through that medium."

Even though Belize was spared the wrath of a devastating tsunami many of us were clueless about not just what to do, but also on basic facts like what a tsunami is. Minister Castro's says NEMO's mission now has to be public education:

Sahar Vasquez
"Will there be more educating people on what to do in the case of a tsunami?"

Hon. Edmund Castro - Minister of National Emergency Management
"Definitely, we have no choice. What we need to do is to get more information. Educate ourselves and educate our population on the things to do when there is a tsunami watch. I would like for people to understand that disaster from a tsunami is different from that of a hurricane. We can track a hurricane coming for days. For weeks we could watch that weather developing but an earthquake there is no method in place in the world that can determine when an earthquake will strike."

Even though neither Belize nor any other country suffered any visible damages from the earthquake, NEMO said that it would be assessing bridges and buildings all over the country to ensure they are sound. Castro spoke more on this.

Sahar Vasquez
"Now NEMO says that today they are assessing bridges. Do you know how that is going?" 

Hon. Edmund Castro - Minister of National Emergency Management 
"From NEMOS point of view we hand that over to the Ministry of Works because of the shaking from the earthquake we have to make sure we assess all the bridges to make sure that we don't have cracks in those bridges and that they are safe especially for big trucks crossing and traversing back and forth on all our bridges. So that is something we are assessing as we speak and we will continue to do that throughout and also assess some of the buildings throughout the country."

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