MMDA wants consolidated earthquake plan for Metro Manila
MANILA, Philippines – With the effects of a powerful quake expected to do widespread damage in Metro Manila, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) wants a consolidated disaster plan for local government units within the special region.
Leaders of the 84 barangays near the two major faults of Greater Metro Manila convened on Thursday, May 28, to discuss safety measures and craft a doable action plan to prepare for a massive disaster.
Should a powerful quake strike Metro Manila – experts say a magnitude 7.2 earthquake may happen within our lifetime – widescale damage is predicted: power and communication lines would be cut, roads and bridges destroyed, and access to emergency services limited.
Because of this, cities and municipalities should work together to come up with a consolidated plan, MMDA Chairman Francis Tolentino said.
"Dapat dumating ang pagkakataon na ang 84 barangays, maging isa sa pagtutulung-tulungan…hanggang matapos natin ang 100 kilometers na West Valley Fault," he added.
Barangay officials from Metro Manila, Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna were also given survey forms to assess their preparedness for a possible disaster. The forms asked if the villages had their own disaster and evacuation plans, basic disaster tools and equipment, relief goods, early warning systems, and funds for calamities.
Experts say Metro Manila is already due for the "Big One," a strong earthquake that could strike once the West Valley fault moves. (READ: What dangers await when the West Valley Fault moves?)
In Metro Manila, the death toll could be around 33,500 with at least 100,000 injured, according to a study. Some 40% of residential buildings are likely to be heavily or partially damaged. Total cost of damage could reach P2.3 trillion. (READ: 57 subdivisions, villages traversed by West Valley Fault)
For an example of a model barangay in disaster preparedness, Tolentino cited Barangay Tumana in Marikina City.
After experiencing record flooding when Typhoon Ondoy (international name: Ketsana) hit the Philippines in 2009, Barangay Tumana has developed a warning system and disaster plan to quickly evacuate its 45,000 residents to safety.
Barangay captain Ziffred Ancheta said residents began to take disaster preparations seriously after suffering from Ondoy's floods.
"Nang malaman nila na kasama ang Tumana sa West Valley Fault, maraming natakot. Anong kalamidad ulit iyon? So sila mismo ang nag-initiate na makipagtulungan," he said.
(When the residents found out that Tumana is vulnerable along the West Valley Fault, many were scared, asking 'What's this new disaster?' So they themselves initiated working with officials.)
Ancheta said there were already visible signs of danger in their community, with several portions of the ground in their barangay showing cracks.
Barangay Tumana's earthquake preparations will also make use of the sirens that it currently uses to warn residents during heavy flooding.
"Residents already know that when they hear the sirens, they should go out. They also know that when an earthquake strikes, they should go to open spaces," Ancheta said.
Mobile simulator, quake drills
While cities and municipalities hold regular earthquake drills to prepare residents for disasters, Tolentino said the exercises often aren't taken seriously.
For residents to have a better idea of the effects of a strong quake, the MMDA will be bringing its mobile earthquake simulator to the 84 most vulnerable barangays located near the West Valley Fault starting Friday.
The simulator can generate seismic movements of up to intensity 10, mimicking the up-and-down and side-to-side movements of a real quake.
For a more realistic simulation, the MMDA chief earlier proposed a metrowide earthquake drill that would involve cutting down power and communication lines, and shutting down schools, malls, and offices.
Tolentino said he will meet with mayors of Metro Manila cities on Tuesday to discuss the proposal. – Rappler.com
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