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article imageHaiyan aftermath: Preparedness key to disaster risk reduction

By Leo Reyes     Nov 17, 2013 in Environment
Cebu - Community preparedness proves to be the key to prevent loss of life and property in times of natural calamities such as typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tsunamis and other natural occurrences of extreme force and proportion.
One such example of community preparedness was demonstrated by a former mayor in one of the islands in the Camotes group of islands in central Philippines during the Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda in Phl) landfall last Nov. 8.
Packing winds of more than 300 kph , Typhoon Haiyan flattened the entire city of Tacloban in Leyte and nearby provinces killing over 4,000 people and destroying thousands of homes and infrastructure along its path.
Prior to the landfall of the deadly typhoon, Alfredo Arquillano, the mayor of the bigger town of San Francisco, led a massive forced evacuation of the 1,000 residents of Tulang Diyot.
“The day before, when it was clear how bad the typhoon would be, we decided to evacuate all 1,000 people. Because we’ve done so much work on disaster risk everyone fully understood the need to move to safety,” Mr. Arquillano said. He is still referred to locally as Mayor Al.
“My goodness, it was a good decision; it’s fair to say it saved everyone’s life. There is not one house left standing on the island, everything was wiped out.
“It just shows that preparedness pays. We have been working for years on early warnings, evacuations. The awareness level of the community was so high that it went well. We have worked hard to localize the international agreement on disaster risk reduction, the Hyogo Framework for Action.”
Days before the typhoon landfall, Philippine president Benigno Aquino has instructed local government units to make the necessary preparation for the incoming typhoon.
Mahar Lagmay, who heads Project Noah said the warning was issued ahead of the typhoon landfall and promptly communicated the information to appropriate government agencies, advising the public "that the water will rise by up to five meters in some areas."
Project Noah is a government weather monitoring group attached to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
Aquino has blamed some local government units for their failure to evacuate people in the low lying and coastal areas and for lack of preparation despite warnings from DOST and the national disaster agency of the government.
In the aftermath of the deadly typhoon, some people took turns in blaming the president for the widespread devastation brought about by typhoon Haiyan, saying that they have not been properly warned by some local government units of the impending catastrophe.
But it turned out that Project Noah, through the DOST has actually issued the warning on the danger of a possible storm surge. Read more:
Meanwhile, massive aid consisting of food, medicine and supplies from friendly countries around the world have arrived in Cebu and Tacloban City ports and airports for distribution to the affected communities
More than $200 million in monetary aid and other form of assistance have been extended by these countries to typhoon victims for relief and rebuilding of their communities.
More about Super Typhoon Haiyan, typhoon yolanda, sorm surge, Tsunami, Floods
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