Roxas, local execs in Surigao Norte discuss disaster preparedness

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/04 September)—Interior and Local Governments Sec. Mar Roxas and local chief executives in Surigao del Norte discussed Wednesday the province’s level of preparedness in dealing with calamities and disasters.

At the sideline of the “Formulation Workshop of the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council” here, Roxas told reporters that Surigao must prepare for natural disasters, noting that the path of storms “has change its course towards Mindanao.”

“Every year, at least 20 typhoons hit our country and in the last three to five years, their trajectory is going down. Before the typhoons would only hit Samar and Bicol. But now towards December, typhoons are expected to hit Mindanao,” he said in Filipino.

Owing to this, Roxas urged provinces situated in the east coast of Mindanao to level up their disaster preparedness, citing the unpredictable scale of devastation that these typhoons could bring.

In preparation for disasters, there should be adequate evacuation centers, communication equipment, vehicles and other necessities needed in responding to calamities, Roxas said.

Surigao del Norte has been identified as one of the provinces in Mindanao most prone to disasters and calamities like flooding, rain-induced landslide, storm surge, earthquake-induced landslide, and liquefaction.

Aside from Surigao City, other areas in the province identified as highly vulnerable to disasters and calamities include the mainland towns of Malimono, Sison, Placer, Tubod, Mainit, Alegria, Gigaquit, Bacuag and Claver and the island-municipalities of General Luna and Socorro.

Last February 2, Surigao del Norte was placed under a state of calamity after torrential rains caused flash floods that damaged infrastructure and agricultural crops in the area.

The Office of the Civil Defense in Caraga region reported that flash floods and landslides had affected at least 235 villages in the province, displacing 20,137 families or 103,121 individuals.

Roxas also invited experts from the Department of Science and Technology’s Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to share updates on Project NOAH or the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards, which seeks to provide local officials with accurate information on weather disturbance in order to aid them in their decision-making to prevent the loss of lives and properties.

Project NOAH was created by the DOST with the aim of having a “more accurate, integrated and responsive disaster prevention and mitigation system, especially in the high-risk areas in the country.”

The components of the project include creating a more accurate flood and hazard maps in 3D, identifying exact areas prone to landslides, and developing local-based sensors for early monitoring and warning system for landslides, slope failures and debris flow.

Roxas said that all local executives “must learn to become experts” on Project NOAH since it is an effective tool in decision making—from suspension of classes and work to giving orders for evacuation—during times of calamities and disasters. (Roel Catoto/MindaNews)