Monolithic domes stand as evacuation centers in E. Samar
EASTERN SAMAR, Philippines – After Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) destroyed 97% of Mercedes, Eastern Samar, monolithic domes – said to withstand extreme weather conditions – have been built to house people when disaster strikes again.
Connie Gomez Valdes, member of Assumption Cares – the charitable arm of the Assumption Alumnae Association Inc that adopted Mercedes town after it was badly hit by Yolanda – said US technology was used to build the domes.
“The domes are scientifically constructed to withstand tornadoes and earthquakes since the technology came from the USA. Because of its spherical design, it can withstand typhoons of around 400kph. The structure is also earthquake proof,” Valdes said.
She added: "Heat is the enemy of domes. That is why we altered the design to add more windows and an opening at the top of the dome to release air pressure in extreme weather changes."
Habitat for Humanity Philippines, a non-profit organization that serves Filipino families in need of decent homes, introduced the technology to Assumption Cares in March 2014.
At present, 8 disaster-resilient domes stand in Barangay Busay in Mercedes which will function as evacuation centers – not just for the people of Busay but also for those in nearby barangays. They are also planning to build more domes soon.
“It [domes] needed soil testing. The black sand, cement, and gravel combination they [contractors] used was extracted and prepared outside Samar. It also needed a special component that is not found in Samar that is why it took a while before they were able to finish it,” Valdes said.
The airform, which is an important part of every monolithic dome, is imported from the US and especially made according to the standards of the monolithic dome founders.
According to Valdes, the structures will also serve as a training center, birthing and medical clinic, daycare center, toy library, and kitchen for cooking demonstrations and training.
Moreover, a ninth dome is being erected to provide separate bathroom facilities for male and female residents.
Valdes said that the domes can last for centuries.
The Assumption Cares is proud to say that they are the first in the country to adopt and build monolithic domes. Future sites in 6 other barangays have been identified.
The tentative date for the turnover of domes will be on June 15, 2015.
Making a difference
“Our vision is to transform the devastated homes, lives, and livelihood of 1,400 households and 9,900 people in Mercedes, Eastern Samar, into a prosperous, healthy, eco-friendly, empowered, dignified, and Christian-centered community,” Valdes told Rappler.
“We wanted something different and longer-lasting that no wind nor earthquake could destroy. We want to leave a legacy behind – not just a structure for show and then to be destroyed again,” she added.
Aside from building monolithic domes, Assumption Cares is also repairing and rebuilding 6 chapels in Mercedes.
Furthermore, the group partnered with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in building 156 transitional shelters in 2014 which were used during Typhoon Ruby.
“We are doing this because Assumption Cares means a commitment to make a difference in the lives of others,” Valdes said. – with reports from Ian Cigaral/Rappler.com