Davao prepares plan to be ready for storm surges

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 16 Dec) – Worried over what happened to Tacloban, this city wants to be ready to evacuate residents in coastal barangays in case of storm surges and similar calamities.

Francisco Villaroman, head of the Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC), said they are now looking for six evacuation sites in areas higher than 250 feet that can accommodate as much as 400,000 people from 16 coastal barangays.

Possible evacuation hubs the PSSCC has identified so far include areas in the boundary between Panabo and Davao City, as well as locations in high areas such as Mandug, Tigatto, and Toril.

He said the contingency plans his office drafted would also require the Traffic Management Center to identify 25 possible streets and roads that would be used to transport evacuees.

But Villaroman said that the announcement of the specific details would have to come from Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte’s office when it proposes the project to the City Council.

The plan also includes the setting up of a command center at the Shrine Hills in Matina.

Villaroman said that evacuating the residents would take three days at most, using buses commissioned by the city government as well as trucks of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The plan, he said, entails his office coordinating with agencies such as Central 911, the Philippine National Police, AFP, and the Department of Social Welfare and Development.

The proposed project – which factors in the building of permanent structures that have food storage, toilet facilities, mess halls, as well as facilities for mothers and children – would cost the city at least P500 million, Villaroman said.

Villaroman said that barangay local government units have also been actively participating during the drafting of the plans, with barangay officials present during the planning.

The plan would involve barangay officials being the first responders and information disseminators in case of calamities. They will also be tapped to marshal the people during the evacuation, he said.

Nurses and doctors are likewise needed in the facilities.

Last month, Duterte tasked Villaroman to design escape routes for low-lying and coastal areas in case of calamities similar to the one that occurred when typhoon Yolanda hit Visayas.

Possible escape routes, according to the mayor, include those via Indangan going up to the uplands and in Matina using the Magtuod route, should a natural disaster in the scale of typhoon Yolanda would hit Davao City.

Duterte asked the public to take typhoon warnings seriously even if the city is surrounded by natural barriers.