Northern Samar town taught how to improve disaster communication
NORTHERN SAMAR, Philippines – When Typhoon Nona (Melor) hit the Philippines in December 2015, the town of Laoang in Northern Samar bore the brunt of the damage. The typhoon made landfall in Batag Island, the part of the town facing the Pacific Ocean.
Nine people who were on a motor boat went missing and were never found. Houses, crops, and boats in the town were also destroyed.
As with most disaster situations, communication lines were cut in the typhoon's aftermath.
"We didn't get any information about our relatives in other towns. We were also worried because we didn't want our family in other areas to worry about us here," recalled Leo Serrona, Municipal Development chief of Laoang.
He added: "That information was very valuable. You cannot put a price on that information."
Value of information
Information in times of disasters was the key discussion point during the Agos-eBayanihan Workshop in Laoang on March 9. All the 56 barangay captains and department heads of the town participated in the training conducted by Rappler's civic engagement arm, MovePH.
MovePH executive director Rupert Ambil taught participants how communication lines should be improved and prepared before disasters strike.
"Information in times of disasters are as important as food and shelter. It spells the difference between life and death," Ambil, recalling his experiences covering past disasters, told the participants.
"It is our responsibility to share information with people who need it the most."
The trainings were held under the initiative of former Mayor Madeleine Ong, who attended a similar Agos workshop in Calbayog City, Samar, and wanted to innovate Laoang's communication systems.
Agos-eBayanihan will provide further training to all 56 barangays of Laoang on how to improve communication in times of disasters. – Rappler.com