MANILA, Philippines — Hard lessons learned from typhoon “Ondoy” in 2009 and from super typhoon “Juan” this month have taught both the government and the people the importance of preparedness, especially in times of calamities.
And the most important among the lessons gained from the super typhoon is what one official said, “Preparations yield good results,” noting that while the typhoon may have caused negative effects, these however were described as minimal.
National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Executive Director Benito Ramos, for his part, said it is important to have continuous information and education campaign (IEC) for the people, even as he said that all concerned should continue working without expecting commendation.
He said people should also realize they should not play jokes or cause to spread unfounded rumors during calamities as these can cause panic, like what happened to some 5,000 Pangasinan residents who evacuated when text messages that water will be released from San Roque dam circulated in their community. The information, however, was not true.
Aside from these, the NDRRMC executive said another lesson that can be taken from typhoon Juan is, “Do not plant a big tree right beside your house, especially if it is made of light materials.” Why? Because when a typhoon comes, strong winds may uproot (and topple) the tree, which may crash your house and cause death as in what happened to some of the victims of the super typhoon.
But what could probably be considered as the most important lesson from typhoon Juan is that calamities and disasters will not spare anyone, as even the NDRRMC executive director who for days had been very busy overseeing preparations for Juan himself became a victim of the super typhoon.
Ramos said his house in Isabela was among those damaged by Juan.
“Pati ako biktima. Nilipad lahat ng bubong ng bahay ko,” said Ramos.
Having learned from Ondoy, the government was much more prepared.
So when PAGASA announced that Juan, which was projected to bring heavy rains and strong winds, was about to enter the country, the government through the NDRRMC wasted to time to put in place all necessary measures to mitigate the potential negative effects of the “super typhoon.”
A meeting was immediately convened by the NDRRMC at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City to make sure all rescue and disaster response teams and assets of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) and other concerned agencies like the Department of Health, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and even the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) already pre-positioned.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) also pre-positioned family food packs and other food and non-food items for possible typhoon victims especially in regions 1, 2, and CAR.
The assistance of US military assets and personnel who are in the country for a bilateral military exercise with the AFP were also immediately offered, while warnings and advisories were disseminated to all areas that are expected to be hit by the typhoon.
Pre-emptive evacuations were also ordered, especially for those living in high-risk areas like mountain slopes and along the river.
Elena Aben, Manila Bulletin