PH unprepared for major disasters – Phivolcs

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/27 May) – The country is not prepared for disasters of the magnitude brought by typhoons Yolanda and Sendong and the earthquakes that hit Bohol and neighboring provinces last year, Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Volcanology and Seismology (Philvolcs) said Tuesday.

“That is why we need to have an inventory of critical areas for earthquake and other disasters, we need to have science based scenarios to base our response,” Solidum said.

The official made the statement in a press conference during the “Iba Na Ang Panahon (INAP): Science for Safer Communities” roadshow at the KCC convention center here that ended Tuesday.

Led by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), the road show offered a range of science-based tools that could further strengthen the disaster management plans and programs of LGUs in the area and eventually make them more resilient to disasters. (See separate story)

The tools included 3D or three-dimensional hazard maps, flood models, hazard simulation software and related mobile applications as well as services available through the website of its flagship Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards initiative or Project NOAH.

The DOST also provided media a broadcaster’s information chart on disaster preparedness and response for accurate description during actual reportage on disasters.

“The participation of every local government units in the region is so important. I am grateful the response by some of our local leaders is overwhelming and we can work it out together in the future. Remember early warning leads to early action,” DOST-12 Regional Director Dr. Zenaida Laidan said.

At least 500 participants from local government units and other government agencies joined the two-day event where they undertook hazard mapping and made action plans to prepare for quakes, floods and other possible disasters.

DOST-12 has installed dozens of monitoring devices like automated rain gauges, automated weather stations and water level monitoring stations in different parts of the region.

But Dr. Vicente Malano of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said the country has not yet developed a gadget that can detect tornadoes or twisters. He admitted it’s hard to detect twisters as they can easily develop and are easily gone.

Major disasters have hit Region 12 in the past. These include the 1976 tsunami that hit the coastline of Lebak and Kalamansig in Sultan Kudarat Province and Cotabato City and several floods and landslides. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)