Davao City eyes permanent evacuation center

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/19 September) – The plan of the city government to build a permanent evacuation structure could be realized soon, according to the head of the City Planning and Development Office.

CPDO chief Marcelino Escalada Jr. said the move is being eyed as a long-term response to calamities such as the fire that hit in April 4 this year.

Speaking at the weekly iSpeak forum at City Hall, Escalada said having a permanent site for evacuees was better than using covered courts in barangays and public schools.

“We should acknowledge that an evacuation center should be part of an urban city,” he said.

He said the CPDO last year planned for the facility, with around P30 million from the city’s disaster fund earmarked for it, but a fire hit 8.8 hectares of Isla Verde earlier this year.

“In almost all calamities that hit Davao city, the first place they go to are schools and covered courts, but these are not designed to be evacuation centers. It can be another disaster waiting to happen,” he said, referring to the fire that hit Rizal Elementary school, one of the evacuation areas of the Isla Verde residents.

City administrator Melchor Quitain, in an earlier interview with MindaNews, said Mayor Rodrigo R. Duterte was yet to see the plan.

The discussion came amid discussions on the city’s use of public schools as temporary shelters for over 3,700 families affected by the fire that wiped out two-thirds of Barangays 22C and 23C on April 4 this year.

Public Safety and Security Command Center chief Frank Villaroman said in December 2013 that the city was in the process of identifying six evacuation sites located 250 feet above sea level to accommodate around 400,000 residents from 16 coastal barangays.

Villaroman had suggested locations such as the boundary between Panabo City 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.

Villaroman announced the plans after Duterte himself said that the city should be ready in case a storm surge or another tidal event hit the city, after typhoon Yolanda hit major cities and provinces in the Visayas in November last year.

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 would also be needed in the facility.

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

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

Escalada said the evacuation facility would only house the victims of fires for three months.

“After 90 days, far and wide, they should have recovered and have the means of living,” he said, adding the facility would double as a livelihood training center. (MindaNews)