Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) Rebuilds in the Aftermath of Hurricane Nana

On September 3rd, 2020, Hurricane Nana made landfall in Belize, more specifically in Southern Belize.  The Category one (1) hurricane made landfall a few miles South of Hopkins, in the Stann Creek District.  Hurricane Nana also impacted Dangriga and Plancencia when it reached its peak intensity of 75 mph (120 km/h), with a minimum central pressure of 994 mb.  Nana weakened after making landfall in Belize, due to its interaction with the mountainous terrain over Belize and Guatemala.  Nonetheless, almost 960 acres of banana and plantain farm crops were destroyed by the storm.  This damage has amounted to an astounding US $20 million.  In addition, damage assessment teams reported damage to structures in the areas of Hopkins, Silk Grass and Dangriga.

While Hurricane Nana did not cause widespread damage, Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) sprung into action right away when initial reports indicated that the storm would hit Belize.  BEL was also supported by the National Emergency Management Organisation (NEMO), which issued their first advisory on September 1st, 2020 when a tropical storm warning was issued for Belize.  BEL activated its hurricane preparedness plans, alongside its COVID-19 protocols and regulations to ensure the safety of its employees and customers.  In an extraordinary restoration effort, BEL had fully restored power to four (4) of the seven (7) affected areas by 6:00 p.m. on September 3rd, 2020.  This efficient and timely restoration of power to customers after the passage of Hurricane Nana speaks to the high level of competency, resourcefulness, and resilience of the BEL team, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In an effort to find out how BEL was able to conduct its restoration efforts to achieve such commendable results; the CARILEC Secretariat, under the CARILEC Disaster Assistance Program (CDAP) conducted an in-depth interview with the BEL team.  The interview was tremendously informative and the team shared valuable information on amongst other topics: health and safety procedures implemented to manage COVID-19 during restoration efforts, the damage assessment conducted in the aftermath of Hurricane Nana and the preparation taken before the hurricane season to augment restoration efforts in the event of a disaster.  The BEL team comprised of Mr. Raul Villanueva (Superintendent of Training, Safety, Health and Environment), Mr. Herschel Armstrong (General Manager of Distribution) and Mr. Zane Fitzpatrick (Safety Specialist).  To learn more about how BEL was able to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Nana, click the following link to watch this exclusive CDAP interview:

Source: CDAP Bulletin, November 2020

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