Natural Disaster Management PH


(The following is a piece made by Emilian alumnus Don Salcedo as his own take on the Philippine government’s response to the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan and the ideal methods for future disaster response operations. Text sourced from http://don-speaks.blogspot.com/2013/11/natural-disaster-management-ph.html with the author’s permission and edited for minor style issues.

Constructive comments are most welcome. Spam and offensive remarks will be deleted immediately.)

Natural disasters have occurred in the Philippines generations before mine and it will occur generations after mine. By now we should already have sturdy protocols on how to handle such. And those protocols need to be ever evolving as we experience natural disasters on a greater scale.

Disaster preparedness does not end before and during the calamity hits our shores. We have to be prepared on how to handle the aftermath. Being prepared is good however it gives us a false sense of security that we become optimistic that there would be a low number of casualties or at best zero.

One dead person as a result of a natural disaster is a death too many. That optimism is what kills people even after the calamity is over. There are no concrete protocols in place on how to handle the aftermath of a calamity as worst as what typhoon Haiyan has left. If there are protocols, I sure have not heard of it or haven’t seen it to address the current situation in Visayas as fast as it should have.

The government is doing something to aid the survivors. No one is saying that they are doing nothing. The correct word everyone should have used is ‘inefficient.’ Donations have started pouring in since Saturday but inefficiently distributed.

The most crucial time for survivors after a natural disaster is the first five days. Here is based on my experience not from a calamity but from something else that I can think is a lot like what Visayas is now experiencing.

Day One: after a devastation of Haiyan’s magnitude survivors are still hopeful. People have lost their homes and looking for missing loved ones. Everyone is feeling hunger and thirst but during the first day finding relatives who are missing and a place for shelter is a top priority.

Day Two: is when food and water is now a priority. Hope is going away fast and they want to see a familiar figure from the government or any sign from the government that help is coming fast.

Day Three: in the absence of food, shelter and government presence. Hope is now lost. And all the days that comes after it will mean a fight to survive. Kill or be killed. Natural instincts and the will to live one more day at a time is what’s on everyone’s mind. The law is now non-existent.

We should have learned from Milenyo or Ondoy or the many other natural disasters that struck the Philippines. Sad to say we might have not. Now we need to learn from Haiyan. To best remember those who died we need to learn.

No country is spared by typhoons, earthquakes and tsunamis. That is a fact. And being inside the Pacific Ring of Fire we should all expect that sooner or later another natural disaster of a much greater scale will happen. I am not a negative person but when dealing with facts we take all positivity aside and prepare for the worst. Because being prepared for the worst will mean the difference between life and death.

So here is what I suggest or what I will do if I am the one in charge of natural disaster management.

Preparedness

1. Establish three main relief operation centers in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. Each of the structures needs to be able to withstand an intensity nine (9) earthquake. It needs to be flood-proof and able to withstand 400kmh winds. These will store the relief goods. Since natural disasters are a fact and every time the rainy season comes we get battered by typhoons and flashfloods from the torrential downpour of the monsoon that gets worse every passing year, we need to prepare in advance the relief goods.

It bothers me that only when a calamity hits do we pack the relief goods. We are wasting precious time when we pack it only when we need it. We can do it in advance. We have to do it in advance and since we do it in advance we can better choose what a relief goods pack is consist of. We can also waterproof the pack. We can use food used by the military for survival or better yet we can use foods used by the astronauts in space. The relief goods pack needs to be spoil-proof.

2. When a typhoon is predicted have PAGASA map its path. The path it most likely to take and what it might take. Take all errors into consideration. After the path is predicted, mobilize the AFP, Red Cross and Medics and have them take positions just outside of the path, inside the safe zone.

It’s like planning and mobilizing troops before the war. The AFP’s resources needs to be on a preemptive position before disaster hits. That way after the disaster, search and rescue operations are hastened because travel time is not any more a constraint.

3. Evacuate everyone on the path of the storm. Evacuation centers should be certified to be able to withstand the winds of the coming storm. In the event of another cat 5, evacuate the people to places where the storm will not pass. The military should assist LGUs in a forced evacuation. A cat 5 is a cat 5. The best and only way to survive is to get out of the way.

4. Life vests should now be mandatory in every home. One for each member of the household. It was the storm surge that drowned people in Tacloban. Let us learn from that. There is another item that I would suggest to be mandatory but most people would be against it – a homing beacon for each member of the household.

It is worn like a bracelet and you activate it when you are in need of rescue and it will alert search and rescue teams of your exact location. This can be worn in the event of a coming storm but for it to be effective when an earthquake hits which no one is still able to predict, I suggest you always keep it with you or since it is worn like bracelet, wear it every day. The technology for homing beacons has come a long way and it is much cheaper now to produce it by the millions. It’s design should be non-invasive that everyone will want to wear them every day. And for those who are concerned about privacy, the beacon needs to be activated by you. And it will only transmit your location. No identity. The cost for these life vests and homing beacons can and will be shouldered by the national government.

5. Have a nationwide red alert for all agencies that are capable for search and rescue and relief ops. We are one nation. We are responsible for one another in times of disasters. Haiyan showed us that we are one world. The help from other nations is overwhelming. Many have died in Visayas and they have not died in vain because every nation has shown that we are still a world united.

Management

1. In an aftermath the magnitude of Haiyan, all helicopters, government-owned or private are now marshaled for use to assist in the search and rescue and relief ops. Bridges are assumed to be destroyed in a cat5 or an earthquake and helicopters are capable of bringing in aid within hours after the disaster. Military aircraft are tasked to assess the extent of damage from the air to give ground crew operations a picture of what needs to be done. Divide and conquer the zones or barangays for search and rescue and relief ops.

2. All those personnel in a preemptive position in the safe zone near the disaster are now mobilized to do their part. Half of which are for search and rescue and half is for relief. The PNP is tasked to keep the peace and order of everyone involved in the ops.

3. Price freeze of all commodities should be in place. DTI, BFA, PDEA, DA personnel will be making rounds to keep it in check.

4. All taxes and duties for relief goods flying in from other nations will be waived. All relief good packages will be stamped a tracking beacon for the BOC to know the exact location of each. BOC personnel will accompany every relief good packages for better security. The PAF and Navy are tasked to transport imported relief goods to the staging area of the disaster.

5. COA personnel will audit in real time all monetary aid coming in. which will be subject for another audit after the situation has normalized.

6. Cabinet members accompanied by their counterparts from the private sector and the media will cross check information on the status of the disaster and will update the nation as a team.


7. And since relief good packs were prepared in advance I can assure distribution of relief goods starting on Day One of the disaster.

That is all I can suggest for now. Tell me if I missed something.

This just came to me while I was eating lunch today. Of course these protocols will be watered down in the event of a non-cat5 typhoon or a lesser-intensity earthquake. These are for a worst-case scenario. One more thing though, all of this will fail without a communication system that is catastrophe-proof. I have an idea for one such system that has been brewing in my head for two years now. I told the president about it and he has yet to set a meeting for us to discuss it.

Everybody dislikes natural disasters. But we should be able to manage it with a little help from everyone. Haiyan killed a lot of people and that breaks everyone’s hearts but there is one positive thing that resulted from it. We realized and have proven that we are people with dissenting opinions and are divided on almost every issue but united in saving one another.

There are real-life heroes everywhere you go.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Raymond Don Salcedo graduated from Emilio Aguinaldo College in 2006 with a BS Computer Science degree. He first enrolled in the school during the second semester of School Year 2003-2004. He served in the MAGDALO Editorial Board from July 2004 to June 2005 as a Sports Editor, and is best known for studiously covering the EAC Generals’ legendary championship run, from the 17-0 UCAA season to the NCRAA. He now works for a tech consultancy firm.

Image credits: The Guardian, CNN, CBC, Christian Science Monitor, Xinhuanet

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Comments

  • jemilyntayko23  On November 19, 2013 at 1:40 pm

    Reblogged this on jem@realgemshoppe.com and commented:
    With the authors consent, let me share his thoughts about Disaster Management. A genius two-hour plan from a person that is not even paid to think for the government. How much more if he works 5 days a week, 8 hours a day, with thirteenth month pay?-and a pork budget maybe? kiddin. I guess this is not just something to think about but something that our government system to consider before everything else is wiped out by some girl named bitchy typhoon.

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