Barangays urged to take charge as big waves displace 4,000 in S. Minda

They should be vigilant and work for self-reliance in responding to emergencies, Carmelito Lupo, OCD regional director in Southeastern Mindanao told MindaNews Saturday.

He said the barangays have been equipped with trainings and other capability-building preparation.

Lupo, also executive director of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC), said the big waves caused by southwest monsoon winds have displaced around 4,000 residents in the region, including 2,420 from Davao del Sur and 1,400 from Davao City as of August 12.

Lupo said those who fled sought refuge in school buildings and barangay government buildings and facilities.

He said the barangay disaster coordinating council, the nearest and most accessible response force to an affected community, should mobilize local means to respond to emergencies like displacement of residents living in coastal communities.

Lupo said a local disaster coordinating council has a reaction force that varies as the level goes up from the barangay to the regional level. The council should activate its reaction force composed of teams in charge of rescue, medical, fire fighting, police and security, public information, communication and warning, transportation, evacuation, relief and rehabilitation.

Last month, Lupo told MindaNews in time for the launching of the disaster-preparedness month, that they were focusing on building the capacity of communities to assess local hazards and draft contingency plans.

Lupo said the recent hazard of the big waves battering coastal villages have served as an opportunity for the communities to test local preparedness to disasters and emergencies.

The barangay has already demonstrated that, Danilo Andoy, barangay chair of Bago Aplaya in coastal Talomo district in Davao City told MindaNews.

More than 200 residents of Purok Seaside in the barangay fled their homes starting August 9 before the strong waves destroyed their houses on August 11.

Andoy said they mobilized volunteers to help evacuate affected residents to safety, inform other residents of the need to evacuate and to help those affected, and others helped in securing properties and cook for those who worked. The barangay also put up a medical corner, where three barangay personnel were posted. They attended to patients, including an old woman who almost fell off a foot bridge.

Andoy stressed that  many residents refuse to leave their houses despite offers for relocation. Residents told MindaNews Friday that aside from the relocation site –  actually a proposed barangay road – many of those who wanted to stay would rather avoid paying rent or are fishers who prefer to live by the shore.

There are things they could address at the local level, Andoy said. But he added there are other needs that they have to ask from the city government.

"It is standard operating procedure for the barangays to coordinate with the higher level council for assistance," he said. "But they have to make use of local means first and must gear to be self-reliant in these efforts," he stressed.

Aside from the coastal barangays' problem with monsoon waves, Lupo said communities along the region's river banks are at risk of flash floods because of the  continuous rains.

Lupo said at least 100 residents or 20 families in Jose Abad Santos town in Davao del Sur were displaced due to floods as of August 9. He added that two people were confirmed dead, four others reported missing, and at least 105 people or 21 families were relocated in Brgy. Upper Konel, Sarangani Island in Davao del Sur due to a landslide on the same day.  Lupo said land slipped due to heavy rains on a 28-hectare area. As a result, he said, 3,000 coconut trees were felled.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said as of 5 p.m. August 13 that better wind and sea conditions were to be expected.

From a forecast of "moderate to strong" winds and "moderate to rough" coastal waters on August 10, it is now "light to moderate" and "slight to moderate" coastal waters. (Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)