Best tool to prepare for disasters is common sense – Mayor Sara

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 4 Oct) – “The best resiliency tool is common sense. If you are told to vacate, please do,” Mayor Sara Duterte expressed her frustration over the unresponsiveness of residents in low-lying areas to heed the calls of the City Government for preemptive evacuation.

During her second State of the Nation Address (SOCA) at the City Council on Tuesday, Duterte said the residents in flood-prone areas have been complacent to the early warnings.

She recalled that residents in low-lying areas had been warned to evacuate by the Davao City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (DRRMO) days before Typhoon Vinta landed on December 21, 2017.

“Sadly, not everyone heeded our advice, and we have resorted to very tedious search and rescue operations. Luckily, no one died. However, let that be a lesson. Always, the best resiliency tool is common sense,” the mayor said.

She added most of the trapped residents had to be rescued from rooftops as floodwater reached the ceiling.

The mayor called on the DRRMO to “further enhance the forced evacuation mechanism to see to it that we not just issue advisories – those advisories need to be followed.”

Under the Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Fund Investment Plan, Duterte added the city will construct a Disaster Evacuation Center in the 2nd District to complement similar facility that is being constructed in Los Amigos, Tugbok District, which is now 60 percent complete.

“We are also constructing a warehouse in compliance of the requirement of a safe storage facility that will preposition all goods in identified distribution areas,” she said.

Duterte added the city will also install seven early warning systems and four close circuit television (CCTV) cameras in strategic areas that will be linked to DRRMO to monitor water levels during heavy rain.

“This will alert communities living in the downstream to immediately conduct pre-emptive evacuation once the need arises,” she said.

Duterte said the city will procure five mass transport vehicles, in coordination with the CSSDO, which will be used during mass evacuation during calamities and emergencies.

The city also conducted a city-wide earthquake and tsunami Shake Out Drill last July 14 and 27, 2017 to evaluate the preparedness level of the people and the DRRM in the event of a strong earthquake.

“This aims to develop the coordination and cooperation of the different response agencies both public and private in the City during early warning, evacuation, and sheltering 13 phases,” she said.

The mayor added the drill engaged almost 350,000 individuals from different sectors during the first drill and almost 600,000 individuals from the public and private sectors participated in the second drill.

“The efficacy of the drills was actually tested last September 8, 2018 when Davao City experienced a 6.4 magnitude earthquake. I am happy to announce that there were no reported cases of injuries,” she said.

She also encouraged the public to participate in fire drills following the massive fire incident that hit NCCC Mall Davao on December 23, 2017 that left 38 mall workers dead. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)