South Cotabato wants more sirens in flood-prone areas

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/25 July) – The provincial government of South Cotabato is pushing for the installation of additional automated emergency sirens in identified flood-prone villages and communities in the province.

Milagros Lorca, chief of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, said Wednesday they submitted a request to the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) for the allocation of additional sirens for the area.

Based on initial negotiations with DOST-Region12, she said the province will likely be covered in the second round of the program.

She said the province already received 12 sets of automated sirens since last year after being included as among the priority areas.

“We requested an additional 12 sets of sirens or one each per city and municipality and also for the provincial government,” Lorca said in a radio interview.

The official said they have already completed the installation of 11 units of sirens in selected villages in Koronadal City and nine other municipalities.

Two of these were set up last month in Barangay Saravia in Koronadal City and in Sitio Traan Leteng, Barangay Kematu in T’boli town, she said.

Lorca said Sitio Traan Leteng was prioritized for the provincial government’s allocation being the site of its ongoing socioeconomic convergence project.

She said they are currently working on the installation of the remaining unit in Polomolok town through the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

Developed by the DOST, the automated sirens are solar-powered early warning devices that will automatically sound off during flood-related emergencies.

The unit can record a 30-seconder voice announcement that will be repeatedly put on air as a signal or warning to advise local communities on the levels of looming disasters and when to evacuate.

It can be activated through a text message or through manual operation and can last for four to five hours of non-stop siren.

“It’s a rain gauge and at the same time a water level monitoring system,” Lorca said.

She said the installed sirens are now being used by community-beneficiaries and have proven to be very useful so far.

For instance, she said the siren in Barangay Saravia in Koronadal City sounded off to warn the community during the continuous rains in the area earlier this month.

Once the additional sirens would be released, she said they will again install one unit each within the province’s 10 towns and lone city and another priority area of the provincial government.

She said these will be identified based on the geohazard assessment of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau-Region 12.

“We will assess all the identified red zones or high-risk areas in the hazard map and prioritize the most vulnerable,” she added. (MindaNews)