CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – On Dec 16, 2011 Cagayan de Oro was hit by a massive flood caused by Tropical Storm “Sendong.” The flood killed hundreds of people and left thousands more homeless.
The city was largely unprepared for the disaster and Mayor Vicente Emano took a political beating for his perceived slow response.
A year later, and with Typhoon “Pablo” hovering over his province, Emano has learned the lessons of Sendong. A day before the predicted landfall of Pablo, city officials called off classes at all levels and asked residents to voluntarily evacuate to any of the city’s 45 evacuation centers.
During Sendong, little rain actually fell on the city, causing many residents to be complacent. This time around, the residents heeded public storm warnings from state weather bureau PAGASA and willingly evacuated their homes. The mayor said some flooding occurred but water levels were not high.
The preparation paid off. As of this writing, there are no reported casualties in Cagayan de Oro city. The mayor has issued a statement of gratitude to “God and everyone who helped us.”
When asked whether he noticed any change in the way the national disaster management agencies responded to Pablo, the mayor was less generous with his praise, “We are [responding to the disaster] practically on our own. We did not wait for anyone to come and help us.”
Based on a yet to be released administrative order, classes will resume Wednesday, December 5, in Cagayan de Oro City. For tonight, affected residents will remain in the evacuation centers. – Rappler.com