Pasig City weapons vs disaster: Communication, cooperation
SUBIC, Philippines – In 2009, typhoon Ondoy dumped more than a month and a half worth of rain in 24 hours.
Pasig City was one of the areas worst hit, with most of its residents victims of heavy floods.
What has Pasig City learned since then?
How do residents prepare for natural disasters?
David Lozada reports.
Every time a typhoon draws near, Dino Raymundo and his team are all geared up and ready to go. It's part of their disaster workflow as leaders of Barangay Santolan, a flood-prone community in Pasig City.
Santolan is the catch basin for flood water coming from nearby cities during storms. When Typhoon Ondoy hit in 2009, almost the entire community was submerged in water. Thirty thousand people were evacuated.
Raymundo says dissemination of public information is crucial to their operations.
DINO RAYMUNDO, BRGY SANTOLAN KAGAWAD: Napaka-importante kasi magiging aware at ibababa namin sa mga tao kung paano ang kanilang mga dapat 'pag dumating yung mga ganitong scenario. Hindi lang sa panahon ng baha. Pati yung panahon ng earthquake ay pinag-aaralan ngayong araw na ito. (It is important to properly disseminate the community’s disaster response plans to the residents before calamities strike, so they know what to do when the time comes. We don’t only prepare for floods but also for earthquakes.)
But the team still lacks equipment and training to respond to big disasters. This is where the city government comes in. Proper information dissemination and preparedness are key to effective disaster response. But Pasig City takes this a step further. The city requires the communities to work together to address the differences in capacity and resources between barangays.
Pasig City created a system where nearby barangays help each other in times of crises. Pasig DRRM chief Richie Angeles says the city regularly holds disaster simulation exercises. Community leaders practice communication and rapid assessment of the situation.
RICHIE ANGELES, PASIG DRRM CHIEF: Nagtulong-tulong yung mga six, seven barangays in one cluster. So mas-stronger. Kung sa barangay ka lang, you stand alone, ang laki ng problema. Pero halimbawa, hindi naman lagi nangyayari in one area, itong barangay, lahat affected. So yung hindi affected within that cluster, will support the affected barangays within that cluster. Nagkakaroon ng parang family bonding nila lalo, yung kapwang Pasigeno. Kung ikaw ay may kakayahan at ikaw naman ay affected, eh di tumulong ka nalang muna. (Around six to seven communities help each other in one cluster so the response is stronger. If you’re only one barangay, your response is limited. But disasters don’t always happen in one area so not all communities are always affected. So those communities that are not affected, can support affected communities within the cluster. A family bond forms between Pasig residents. If you have the capacity and you’re not affected, then you should help.)
Raymundo is confident Barangay Santolan can withstand any calamity.
DINO RAYMUNDO, BRGY SANTOLAN KAGAWAD: Kami, preparado na kami dahil halos napagdastahan na naming lahat ng mga pangangailangan namin. Halos coordinated na kami, hindi lang sa local government unit, pati yung sa national, may connection na kami. (We’re prepared because we’ve addressed all our needs. We are in constant coordination with the local government units and the national agencies.)
Pasig's experience shows the greatest resource for disaster preparedness are people.
Even if short on resources, unified action, planning and innovation are the best tools for saving lives.
David Lozada, Rappler Subic. – Rappler.com