Resiliency to calamities
If there is anything that the country’s national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal, inculcated in us through his martyrdom which we will observe as a holiday tomorrow, it’s that we as a people have the capacity to endure and to overcome anything that is thrown at us.
The past two weeks have seen tropical storms like Urduja and Vinta inflicting devastation on our shores particularly in Mindanao and some parts of the Visayas.
While some cities and provinces were better prepared, the others not so much, and thus, they had to pay the price as they saw their homes washed out to sea or crushed by boulders and rocks brought by landslides.
Yet amid the scenes of devastation, loss and tragedy come stories of resilience, of people donating what they have to their less fortunate brothers and sisters, and helping them to rebuild their homes and lives as quickly as the storms cut across their respective paths of destruction.
In Cebu, the provincial government had done its part in conducting barangay level training about disaster management, and designated local disaster and risk management officers to act as both lead and point persons for coordinating rescue and relief operations.
We’d like to believe that local governments like those in Daanbantayan that sustained damage but no major casualties during the brief “stopover” of Tropical Storm Urduja, had been adequately prepared as evidenced by their evacuation of families in flood and landslide hotspots.
Even if Urduja and Vinta were not as strong compared to the Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013, the lessons learned from that calamity had been the driving force behind the Capitol’s mobilization of front line responders that could act and be tapped immediately for assistance in remote, hard to access areas like Daanbantayan.
Preparedness is a lesson not lost in areas like Cagayan de Oro City in Misamis Oriental, northern Mindanao that had bore the brunt of Typhoon Sendong in December 2011, and were more than ready to anticipate the worst that Vinta brought to its shores, resulting in zero casualties.
Yet we hope that disaster preparedness is but a component, a vital one at that, in the overall program of disaster prevention, which should encompass programs and measures aimed at curtailing, if not reducing the factors that cause the disasters in the first place.
For one, reforestation and an aggressive anti-illegal logging campaign will ensure that we have enough trees that can absorb the excess rainwater and prevent flooding in low-lying areas.
Keeping our riverbanks clear of settlers and commercial establishments that pollute these water bodies with their garbage — more so with companies that are near impossible to relocate thanks to entrenched owners — will be a great help in preventing the incidence of flooding.For all our resiliency in dealing with floods and other calamities, we can take it upon ourselves to minimize the damage and ensure our survival.
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