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Manila gives 100 boats to flood-prone villages

WE ARE READY. Manila city prepares the flood boats for a turnover ceremony in Manila City hall. Photo by Vincent Bascos

WE ARE READY. Manila city prepares the flood boats for a turnover ceremony in Manila City hall.

Photo by Vincent Bascos

MANILA, Philippines – In a response to the start of the rainy season, the Manila Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) office provided 100 boats to the flood-prone barangays or villages of the city on Tuesday, June 23.

In ceremonies at Manila City Hall, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and the MDRRMO turned over the flood boats to the chairmen of the districts that are hardest to reach during the typhoon season.

“Ang pinakamahalaga, we have to be ready even before these things happen. Maiikutan nila ang mga lubog na eskenita upang mailigtas nila ang mga nai-stranded nating mga kababayan o di kaya ay maihatid nila ang mga tulong at gamot,” Estrada said.

(What is most important is that we have to be ready even before these things happen. With these boats, they can go through submerged alleys to rescue the people who are stranded or give them the help and medicine they need.)

Manila DRRM chief Johnny Yu said that the local government unit prioritized the people in Baseco in Tondo, Sta Ana, and those along Roxas Boulevard.

“These areas are the first to be flooded, especially those near Roxas Boulevard, where they are prone to storm surges during the typhoon season,” Yu said.

He said that the 100 boats were only one-fourth of the targeted number needed for all districts in Manila.

“It’s still not enough for the whole of Manila. These will only be used in the flood-prone areas. Actually, meron pa kaming mga procurement na parating (we have more procurement on the way). And with the help of MMDA (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) and DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government), they will be donating more boats,” Yu added.

At the ceremony, Maria Lourdes Agustin, head of the DILG's National Captial Region office, promised to donate 18 more boats by July.

DISASTER READY. Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada gives paddles to baranggay officials in a symbolic turnover ceremony at Manila city hall. Photo by Vincent Bascos

DISASTER READY. Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada gives paddles to baranggay officials in a symbolic turnover ceremony at Manila city hall.

Photo by Vincent Bascos

Some barangays have their own rubber boats, but they can be hard to mobilize in narrow alleys, according to Yu.

“These rubber boats cannot be used in highly-urbanized areas because they are not durable and they are expensive to maintain. 'Pagdating sa mga fiber boats, di siya mabubutas. Actually binangga namin 'yung boats sa pader, hindi siya nasira, 'yung pader 'yung nasira,” Yu said.

(The fiber boats are very durable. Actually, we tried slamming the boat against a wall, it wasn’t destroyed. The wall was destroyed instead.)

Each boat, which costs at least P15,000 each, comes with a life vest and two paddles. It can carry a maximum of 8 passengers, including two rescuers.

Disaster preparedness

As part of the MDRRMO’s plan for the coming typhoon season, the city has purchased early warning equipment to gauge the level of incoming typhoons so the agency can respond accordingly.

The city already has a weather forecasting system in place and is waiting for a tsunami warning device and a Doppler rain gauge.

Also, MDRRMO has been continuously training Manila emergency response teams from different communities as part of National Disaster Consciousness Month in July.

“Planado na 'yan eh. Hindi lang siya pang-flooding, but also urban search and rescue,” Yu added. (Everything is already planned. Aside from teaching them what to do during flooding, we’ve also taught them search and rescue operations.) – Rappler.com