Preparing for Disaster

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Ligalig-Mike

Preparing for Disaster
« on: November 27, 2007, 07:34:27 PM »
By Romy Teruel
Columnist
Bohol Sunday Post

By experience we know that nature has a schedule to catch up and some outputs to be delivered before the year ends. Yet most often we still get surprised and pay dearly for it in terms of lives lost and properties or facilities damaged.

We refer to typhoons that hit the country every year the latest of which were Lando and Mina that came within a span of five days both leaving on their trails destructions of unanticipated proportions. The Philippines is normally visited by 53 typhoons (if my recollections is right) every year and by the latest count, we only had a few due to the dry months this year.

If nature is true to its schedule, it still has to deliver no less than ten and there are only 35 days left before 2007 closes. This means we can still expect more destructions and damages if we don't do anything to prepare for disaster.

Typhoons are ordinary phenomena to the Philippines. If we have learned our lessons, there should be minimal damage to life every time. But our experience tells us that only very few of us learn their lessons. Disaster plans are all in place. At any time the plans can be activated. People living in low-lying areas are supposed to be evacuated before the rains and strong winds come.

But we can be hard headed. Most of us would rather disregard warnings than heed them. For some, like the poor who eat today what they earn tomorrow, leaving their homes would mean not being able to eat or feed their families. Their reluctance to leave can be understood. But many are just plain stubborn and these are the most likely victims when tragedy strikes.

But that there are quite a number of people who die and properties damaged every time a typhoon of the Lando or the Mina magnitude comes, only mean that the disaster preparation of the communities led by the national or local government units are not enough.

Disaster plans fail either because those in charge did not exert enough effort to inform and educate the people or the plans are plainly defective.
We know the usual path of typhoons in our country. We should put this knowledge to use in our disaster plans. Places usually in the path of typhoons should be able to know what type of agricultural crops they should plant during certain months. We can't stop the floods from destroying our agricultural farms. But we can minimize the extent of damage by planting the right plants during certain times of the year. And certainly nobody should die anymore from the onslaught of typhoons.

Sadly however most of our disaster plans are reactive more than preventive. We need to immediately review these plans and do something about the deficiencies to prevent unnecessary loss of lives and properties. If we cannot, more people will be unhappy this Christmas. Remember nature has still to deliver at least three more typhoons by year-end6y. How devastating these typhoons will be? We still do not know at this time.

NOTES. We received some complaints about the additional 10% Value Added Tax (VAT) to the fare they pay when they take the fast craft to and from Cebu. We have yet to seek clarification from the agency of government like the BIR. Off hand though, a friend I consulted said the VAT should already be included in the published rates of the transportation companies. We will discuss about this in our next column. And if this is true, then corrections should be made by the transport companies.

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