‘Ready evacuation centers’: Pagasa gives LGUs tips to manage La Niña amid pandemic

By: Consuelo Marquez - Inquirer.net | October 03,2020 - 06:36 AM

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s weather bureau warned citizens that La Niña may continue from October until March next year, which means above normal rains are expected in most parts of the country.

During these times, flash floods and landslides are possible; thus, evacuation centers are needed as temporary shelters for victims.

For Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), the local government units (LGUs)  and its stakeholders must be aware of these expected problems.

Here are some tips from the weather bureau experts amid the onset of La Niña.

Plan ahead, ready evacuation centers

Esperanza Cayanan, officer-in-charge of Pagasa deputy administrator for research and development, underscored that LGUs ensure basic health requirements inside the evacuation centers.

“Dapat namemaintain pa rin yung physical distancing yung requirements sa basic health natin. ‘Yun ang main concern kapag may nangyari na pagbaha,” Cayanan said in an online La Niña press conference on Friday.

(We should still maintain physical distancing as a basic requirement for our health. That is our main concern when flooding occurs.)

She added that proper scheduling for dispatch of vehicles must also be planned to make sure that distancing is still followed when transporting flood victims to their temporary shelters.

“Kung sa sakali magkaroon ng pagbaha o mga landslides sa area, dapat alam nila (LGU) kung saan dadalhin saka proper scheduling kasi hindi dapat magkasabay sabay, so yung sasakyan na mageevacuate hindi naman 100 percent mapuno, as much as possible mamaintain ‘yung distancing natin,” he said.

(If there is a chance of flooding or landslides in their area, LGUs should know where to evacuate their residents and have proper scheduling because they should not be transported all at once because we are avoiding full capacity inside the vehicle, and as much as possible we maintain distancing.)

Use vacant buildings as temporary shelters

Pagasa director Vicente Malano called on LGUs, churches, and schools to open their buildings for evacuees in case floods occur.

“Marami naman ngayong mga buildings na hindi ginagamit dahil bawal pa mass gathering kamukha nung simbahan, eskwelahan. May narinig tayo na nag-co-close na mga schools,” Malano said during the same press briefing.

(There are many buildings that are not being used, since mass gatherings are still not allowed, such as churches and schools. We also hear of schools closing.)

“Magtulungan na ma-i-open siguro ‘yung mga facilities for evacuation para maobserve pa rin natin yung distancing,” he added.

(Let’s help each other to open these facilities so that distancing is observed during evacuation.)

Hotels that do not have customers during the pandemic may also be used for temporary shelters for flood victims, Malano noted.

“‘Yung mga hotels na hindi naman gaano na-occupy. Limitado mga bisita natin dahil sa COVID so pwede natin magamit para ma-i-observe yung distancing,” Malano said.

(Hotels that are not occupied and have limited guests because of COVID-19 can be used so that we can still observe distancing.)

Hospitals must prepare for patients with water-borne illnesses

Ana Liza Solis, chief of the weather bureau’s Climate Monitoring and Prediction Section, called on hospitals and health centers to be prepared for those who will be treated for water-borne ailments.

“Since magkakaroon ng posibilidad ng prevalence ng water-borne diseases so kailangan magkaroon ng pagbabalangkas kung ano gagawin na paraan, given na may mahohospitalize na local communities. Kung paano iseseparate sa COVID patients sa hospitals,” Solis said during the same press conference.

(Since there is a possibility of the prevalence for water-borne diseases, we need to have a plan on what to do, given that there are members of local communities who will be hospitalized. They need to plan on the separation of  these patients from COVID patients in hospitals.)

The Department of Health said water-borne diseases include typhoid fever, cholera, leptospirosis, and hepatitis A.

Meanwhile, Cayanan said they are still looking into the direct effect of rains and transmission of coronavirus disease.

“‘Yung paglaganap ng COVID dahil sa ulan, wala pa kaming nakikitang ganun. Isa sa nakikita naming pagaaralan, kapag mas maulan ba ay mas mabilis kumalat yung COVID dahil may nasamang virus na nasama sa ulan o sa baha,” she said.

(When it comes to the notion of transmission of COVID due to rains, we still don’t have data to support that. One of the things that we are studying is how rains contribute to the spread COVID if the coronavirus can be transmitted in floods.)

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