BELIZE CITY, Belize – In light of Tropical Storm Richard, the Belize Tourism Board (BTB) has announced evacuation and relocation plans for all in-country travelers, and travelers visiting Belize in the coming days. According to the Belize National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), the center of Tropical Storm Richard is expected to cross Belize this evening as a category 1 hurricane; as of 12:00 pm MST, the center of the storm was located 55 miles southeast of Belize City, moving toward the northwest at 13 miles per hour. Maximum sustained winds remain near 85 miles per hour with higher gusts.
In response to the impending hurricane, all hotels in the Toledo District – located in the southern region of Belize and coastal communities have been evacuated, and all residents and travelers have been relocated to safe grounds. People being evacuated have been sent to shelters in northern Belize. For those choosing to not evacuate, area shelters have been set up by NEMO along the coast starting from the areas of Golden Stream, Deep River area in Toledo, and the Stann Creek District, where Richard is expected to make landfall this evening. For a complete listing of all emergency shelters or for more information on Tropical Storm Richard, please visit NEMO at http://www.nemo.org.bz or call the emergency line at (501) 822-0153.
NEMO has confirmed that as of 10:00 am MST, all public in-country transport operations have been ceased, except for transit buses that will complete their runs to the north at 2:00 pm MST. Additionally, all airline flights have been grounded and the Philip S.W. Goldson International Airport (PGIA) is closed for the day.
For those concerned about friends or family in-country, or for those expected to travel to Belize in the coming days, you are advised to visit BTB’s emergency online site for weather updates and information. This website can be accessed at www.belizeemergency.net . Travelers should also check with their airline carrier for on whether or not to reschedule travel dates.