[PHOTO - Cebu flood. Metro Cebu and Mandaue City submerged due to heavy rains]

MANILA, AUGUST 27, 2012 (PHILSTAR) THE FREEMAN-PERSPECTIVE By Cherry Piquero-Ballescas Floods, landslides, even fires amidst Tuesday afternoon’s heavy downpour in Cebu City and elsewhere in Cebu Province.

That was just about an afternoon’s downpour and yet, so many people and communities were affected.

Commuters were either stranded or unable to take their usual public ride because the floods stalled vehicles in various cities of Cebu. Those who were able to finally get their ride had to bear with hours of delay getting home due to the snarled traffic caused by the floods. Fire trucks responding to the 2 fires that hit communities last Tuesday were delayed again, this time by the floods.

There were also landslides in various parts of Cebu which made travel even more difficult and dangerous. New holes on the roads were also observed which posed even more danger to people and which made traffic worse.

Again, we emphasize: the heavy rains did not last long and the rains were not related to any typhoons, YET, the various cities and the rest of Cebu experienced so much challenges and risks to people and communities.

Gratefully, last Friday’s earthquake did not cause any major damage and did not claim any lives in Cebu. However, if everyone observed, communication about the location, magnitude and impact of the earthquakes did not come in until about 20 minutes after. Sadly, the first broadcasted information was also not correct and incomplete.

The August 31, 2012 earthquake felt in many regions of the Philippines and the September 5, 2012 heavy rains, floods, landslides and fires in various parts of Cebu remind us all again about the URGENCY, the NECESSITY to effectively prepare for and manage disasters.

Recent news reports focus on various initiatives related to disaster resiliency all throughout the country. Emergency preparation and drills in certain schools and offices outside of Cebu, for example, were shown on TV.

What about Cebu Province and Cebu City?


How prepared is Cebu for disasters?

Various editorials and articles in various local newspapers in Cebu lament the absence of effective disaster preparedness and management all throughout this country, including Cebu’s cities, towns, barangays, and sitios.

The various fires that have affected communities in various cities of Cebu continue to affirm the lack of adequate, effective fire preparation and management systems and organizations at all levels, from top to bottom, from city to community levels.

Many Cebuanos thought and verbalized earlier that the massive floods that hit Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon a few weeks back may not hit Cebu, but last Tuesday’s short downpour experience will certainly make more Cebuanos rethink.

Hopefully, the recent heavy rains, floods, landslides, sudden appearance of holes on the roads, fires and earthquake and aftershocks will push Cebuanos to immediately demand for an actual working and effective system of disaster preparedness and management from the local government units. This disaster-resiliency management system IS URGENT and must be in place ASAP ( AS SOON AS POSSIBLE)!

Cebu City Councilors Nida Cabrera and Alvin Dizon are among those who are quickly responding to this urgent need for effective disaster resiliency to protect people and communities soonest. With UP Cebu, RCE-Cebu, and UC, they have facilitated a workshop for September 17 to 1) assess the present disaster resiliency situationer of the city, 2) determine who/which group is doing what, where, when and how related to various types of disasters, and, 3) strengthen (so that all are assured) that a working crisis command system is already in place for effectively managing disaster risk and reduction, at all levels, down to the sitio level.

Vice Mayor Al Arquillano of San Francisco, Camotes who has already organized sitio-level disaster management teams, will share their Camotes experience.

Councilor Alvin Dizon had also earlier passed an ordinance, approved last August 26, 2012, that request “school authorities and administrative heads of both private and public institutions of higher learning in Cebu City to undertake initial study on the possible revision of the design and formulation of existing NSTP components in their respective schools to integrate safety, rescue and clean up operations training (related to disaster resiliency) to make NSTP more meaning and responsive to the demands of time.”

Let us all join hands immediately to help strengthen and be part of an effective, working system of disaster resiliency soonest!

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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