DRR awareness high, preparedness low; July 23 is quake/tsunami drill in DC

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/12 July) – Aware, yes; prepared, no.

The city’s 911 chief Emmanuel Jaldon said the residents’ level of awareness of disaster risk reduction and management is high but preparedness remains low.

Jaldon explained that Dabawenyos do not seem interested in participating in the activities that are related to disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) conducted either by the city government or by the barangays.

The city government is busy preparing for the earthquake / tsunami drill that will be conducted along 21 coastal barangays on July 23, a week ahead of the Metro Manila drill.

“The city government is doing a lot. That’s why we are reinforcing our information and education campaign,” Jaldon told the iSpeak forum at City Hall on Thursday.

“The awareness is there because they hear it on the radio and read about it in newspapers and they know how it will impact them but the need to prepare for it is not (there),” he said.

He cited poverty as one of the reasons why people do not see preparing for disasters a necessity for now.

“There are more important things than preparing for disaster — ang day-to-day lives nila where to get food. That’s why, they don’t focus on it so much,” he said.

He said most of those who take the time in participating in the activities are the schoolchildren and elderly.

The city government has even reached out to barangay leaders to effectively implement the city’s DRRM measures, which include plotting out escape routes and evacuation centers where the people go to in case of calamities.

Barangays are encouraged to come up with their own activities to stir up the interest of the communities to participate in these activities.

He said some barangays are making progress when it comes to putting up signages that will direct the people to the nearest escape routes and evacuation centers, in case of disasters.

“They are obliged to (put up signages). That’s their responsibility,” he said, adding that the barangay leaders must take the initiative to put in place these measures to ensure the safety of their people.

RA 10121 or the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act of 2010 mandates the setting up of a Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee (BDRRMC) in every barangay “which shall be responsible for setting the direction, development, implementation and coordination of disaster risk management programs within their territorial jurisdiction.”

The holding of the earthquake / tsunami drill on July 23 along the city’s 21 coastal barangays (the city has 182 barangays) aims to gague the preparedness of the coastal communities, test the early warning devices installed in those areas, and mobilize the city’s equipment for disaster response.

“We will evaluate the disaster reduction and management plan. We will get what they have observed and what needs to be done, which will be inputted in the plan,” he said.

In 2013, the city government acquired a state-of-the-art bus ambulance that can be dispatched to areas where rescue operation is needed.

The ambulance can hold 15 patients at a time and is equipped with top-of-the-line medical equipment, including 15 beds, oxygen tanks, hooks for dextrose bottles, and a storage for emergency equipment.

The ambulance comes with a team of nurses, first aid personnel and a doctor.

Andrew Lepardo, chief of Urban Drainage Maintenance of the City Engineers Office (CEO) said they are doing all they can to unclog the canals to prevent flooding in the downtown area through a year-round drainage system maintenance.

“We are doing this not only to prepare for the rainy season but also to upgrade the drainage system,” he said.

The Task Force Drainage is composed of the CEO and Department of Public Works and Highways. (Antonio L. Colina IV/ MindaNews)