Preparedness for disasters and revelry

By STEPHEN CAPILLAS |December 28,2017 - 10:24 PM


Cagayan de Oro City — This writer extends his condolences to the family and relatives of Cebu Daily News columnist Ricky Poca who passed away last Dec. 26.

The closest interaction I had with Poca was at the Tuesday 888 News Forum held at the Marco Polo Plaza Hotel which he hosted along with other Cebu-based media personalities. And was not even a direct contact, but through the questions that I pose which he helps clarify to the newsmakers featured in the forum.

The last piece that he wrote for this paper dated Dec. 18 delved into the still unresolved murder of Barangay Ermita chairman Felicisimo Rupinta. He also mentioned about his struggles with his kidney ailment which didn’t diminish his gratitude for those who helped him along the way.

What is clear is that in his writings and in his other capacities as 888 News Forum host, he clearly professed his love for Cebu and that alone is worth giving him credit for, if anything else.

* * *

Aside from the martial law welcome that I and other visitors received upon arrival at the Laguindingan domestic airport that is located a good two hours drive away from Cagayan de Oro City, I also had to contend with the early evening arrival of Tropical Storm Vinta (international name Tembin).

Staying at a house located at a low-lying area, the gusts of wind and rain that blew above made me somewhat nervous, and it conjured images of typhoon Sendong which my family experienced and thankfully survived back in December 2011.

To be clear, I was in Cebu City on that night that Sendong struck, and I was surprised at first when I was unable to contact them. It was only when I read the news the following day that I kept repeatedly calling them and was relieved when I made contact and was told that they were all safe, albeit with little to no water and a brownout that lasted for hours.

Just as before, the online community in Cagayan de Oro was up and about while the city government was on full alert on that Thursday night of Dec. 22, issuing advisories on Facebook and Twitter.

The lessons of Sendong were apparently taken to heart by local officials who conducted forced evacuations on families living near riverbanks and dikes. The city residents were also told to set up their emergency kits and to keep contact numbers of the local rescue teams close by for immediate assistance.

And true enough, while there are houses that were flooded above chest level, there had been no reports of any casualties in the city. In fact, the casualties were those in the provinces who refused to evacuate despite pleas from emergency teams to do so.

There were minimal brownouts, and one of the few problems that arose after Vinta’s aftermath was that the water supply had been cut off due to the damage sustained by the distribution pipes linking the wells that supply the city.

So by the time this column sees print, I join the other city residents in rationing the water that comes out of the faucets which is quite similar to what I usually endure in Cebu City whenever an El Niño summer comes around.

* * *

Hopefully as 2017 closes and 2018 comes knocking on the door, Cebu City Hall will make good on its promise to ease traffic and clamp down on the obnoxious Sinulog revelers next month.

A liquor ban will be helpful. And I join the others in hoping that it will be observed by the outlets and those businesses located along the Sinulog route and the roads leading to Fuente Osmeña circle where the crowd is usually concentrated based on past Sinulog celebrations.

The strategy is to disperse the Sinulog crowd to other locations like the Plaza Independencia and the South Road Properties (SRP), which incidentally houses among others a mall that is locked in dispute with City Hall over the business permits of its outlets.

Still, the crucial element remains to be public cooperation, and this is where these outlets should fully coordinate with the city government. It is quite understandable that they will chafe at the prospect of losing profits by not selling liquor to their loyal customers on Sinulog Eve and Sinulog Day.

But by complying with the liquor ban and putting their collective feet down despite the pleas and cajoling of their customers, these businesses won’t have to deal with being closed for at least six months as what City Mayor Tomas Osmeña threatened to do should they defy the ban.

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