Jun 162013

It’s been a few weeks already since I haven’t gone out of town for a coverage. That means good news because that only means that things have been quiet in some parts of the Philippines. No major disasters, for now.

I hope I don’t sound like a doomsday prophet. But even years ago, Al Gore said that because of climate change, typhoons are expected to be stronger and more vicious. Just a few days ago, outgoing Manila City Mayor Alfredo Lim cancelled afternoon classes and work because of flooding, and that was not even a typhoon yet, but another habagat. It’s the rainy season-cum-typhoon season. Good luck to us.

But instead of leaving it to sheer luck, or accident, it is again time to for us take an active part in disaster preparedness.

The good news is, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) conducted flooding drills in some barangays, and the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) conducted its declogging operations. However, even MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino was frank enough to admit that flooding cannot be absolutely mitigated. But we don’t leave it up to government to help us. Remember, it took days for help to arrive to Ondoy areas. So what do we do? Prepare, prepare and prepare.

This week’s baha is another case in point of people getting stranded in so many areas, and traffic was in a standstill. Pity the students. I am not aware if staying put is an option given by universities in case of sudden downpour. Stay in school and assign an area which can serve as a temporary shelter for the students.Have a generator set available, and a hotline which parents can easily contact. Have emergency food ready, and water, too, and come up with activities for the students to do while they are in school, something similar to the debriefing activities that are done in evacuation centers. That way, the parents can be assured of their children’s safety.

By now, disaster preparedness should already be a part of our way of life, and this should begin in schools. I’m not talking about drills, but in actual practice. I don’t think it makes sense to expose students and workers to any danger by getting stuck in flood.

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Doctors warn about the possible dangers to our health when immersed in flood water — from leptospirosis to typhoid fever, not to mention flood-related accidents like electrocution and falling into open canals.

Households, on the other hand, should have several items handy: Flashlight, rechargeable radio, an emergency cellphone, water, emergency food and a whistle. Constantly check www.pagasa.dost.gov.ph and www.noah.dost.gov.ph for weather updates and flood advisories, and of course, tune in to ABS-CBN, DZMM 630 and ABS-CBN News Channel. Ahem, of course, you can watch other channels. Just keep informed. If you’ve also noticed, weather disturbances are

spread out all throughout the country. Given the limited resources of government agencies, we have to rely on ourselves and organize to stay safe during calamities.

The good news is, we are adapting fast. Dr. Mahar Lagmay of Project Noah cites how after Sendong Cagayan de Oro was more prepared for Typhoon Pablo. The warning was announced at 1 p.m. and the flash floods happened at past 4 p.m., but residents voluntarily evacuated. The same goes for Marikina residents. After Ondoy, came habagat, but there were no reported casualties.

By now, we can say that we’ve learned our lesson the hard way. It’s always best to be overly prepared than be terribly sorry.

Meanwhile, it was Father’s Day yesterday, our warmest greetings to our papa. To Papa Nick and Papa Boon, men of a few words, but who are never short of expressing their love for us. Thank you for everything from Orange and I. We love you. And to all our “fathers,” all priests, our prayers are with you.

(E-mail me at bsaguinaldo@yahoo.com.ph.)

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