THEY haven’t fully recovered from the physical and psychic trauma of last November’s Super Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan’s fury and now Super Typhoon Ruby/Hagupit seems likely to inflict the same cruel treatment on Samar and Leyte (including Tacloban) and parts of Cebu by Saturday.
Are the people to be hit ready? Are the national and local government agencies mobilized to reduce and manage risks? Will they do the rescue effort well after ST Ruby/Hagupit has done its worst?
The thing is, the Yolanda/Haiyan victims in Eastern Visayas are still apparently in harm’s way up to now.
These are the words yesterday, as Ruby/Hagupit was about to enter the Philippines, of Oxfam’s Country Director Justin Morgan who was in Tacloban. “A year on from Typhoon Haiyan, people are exerting more effort to prepare and are much more aware of which locations are safe, and appreciate more the importance of following evacuation orders. The danger is, however, that not all evacuation centers in Haiyan-affected areas have been fully repaired and many continue to live in unsafe shelters as recovery efforts continue. Oxfam has emergency assistance positioned and staff in country who are ready to support an emergency response if needed.”
Morgan also said, “As typhoon Hagupit enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility, we are committed to working closely with national and local government and humanitarian partners to ensure the safety and dignity of all those communities potentially affected by the storm. With the climate change-driven trend of stronger typhoons and storm surges, the government must continue to invest in disaster preparedness, as well as adaptation and risk reduction measures, including the full implementation of relevant policies at local levels.”
We give importance to the words of the Oxfam Country Director because his is among the organizations that have made a difference by tirelessly focusing on aiding the Yolanda/Haiyan-distressed populations in the Visayas. Oxfam is an international confederation of 17 organizations working in 94 countries.
We can only pray that the people in the key government agencies that went on red alert yesterday morning will really be as dedicated and able as they should be.
Ruby has strengthened as it bore down on Eastern Visayas with 195-kilometer-per-hour winds and 230-kph gusts. There will be flooding again and surges that will send tall waves inland.
Red alert means that all government personnel tasked with disaster risk reduction and management are on standby ready to work. The government agencies told to be on red alert are the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), Philippine National Police (PNP), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), all NDRRMC and civil defense regional and municipal offices, disaster management units and all local government units in Eastern Visayas and in 44 other provinces.
Alexander Pama, the NDRRMC executive director and Office of Civil Defense (OCD) chairman, said on Thursday all Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Councils (RDRRMCs) in the areas in the storm’s path were under strict orders to take precautionary measures.
The good thing, thank God, is that this time there are no big shot sources of misinformation to prevent timely preparations from being carried out.
Now, there is no Department of Interior and Local Governments Secretary Mar Roxas and Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin bumbling into Tacloban, calling local officials to a meeting in the afternoon of their arrival and telling them Yolanda/Haiyan would hit at noon the following day when in fact the super typhoon was about to strike in just a few hours that very night.