ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/20 January) – Mayor Celso Lobregat has ordered officials of barangays prone to flashfloods and landslides to draw a master disaster plan to reduce risk during disasters and other form of calamities.
Lobregat issued the order as he warned that flooding is imminent because the city proper is situated on a low-lying deltaic and flood-plain environment where the elevation is just within five meters from sea level.
He said the plan should include an early warning system to alert the people of the impending disaster and pave way for the evacuation to safer grounds, thereby reducing the risk of any disaster.
A Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) geohazard study showed that 77 of the city’s 98 barangays are susceptible to flood during incessant rains.
The MGB also identified 44 barangays prone to landslide.
The study concluded that urban development reduces the capacity of natural underlying materials to absorb rain water.
It noted, too, that clogged sewer and canals also add to the problem of flooding, while waste materials dumped along rivers and creeks also amplified the problem.
Coastal hazard, according to the study, is another problem since there are residential dwellings within tidal flats and high tide levels.
Cultural issue holds back permanent solution to this circumstance.
The MGB has recommended that the effects of storm surges and possibly tsunamis could be mitigated through establishment of buffer zones of about 50 meters away from the highest tide level for communities along the shoreline.
The MGB also recommends to prohibit people to build houses within mangrove areas and tidal flats to avoid potential direct threat to the lives of people in the community.
Lobregat said the master disaster plan should include the identification of evacuation sites, escape routes, and mode of transportation. (MindaNews)