Second time luckyCebu Daily News
Just because we were lucky this time does not mean we should be complacent.”
This was the message of Alfredo Mahar Lagmay, University of the Philippines geologist, in the aftermath of the 7.6-magnitude quake that struck off the country’s east coast on Friday night.
The only scientific reason the country was spared destruction from the quake whose strength was equated to 32 exploding atomic bombs was the distant epicenter of the temblor.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology was wise to issue a tsunami warning immediately after the quake’s first tremors.
This led to the forced evacuation of residents in the country’s eastern seaboard as mandated by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
While Phivolcs cancelled the tsunami alert about three hours after the earthquake, it wrought damage like cracks on roads, bridges and buildings and claimed the life of Emelita Ubalde of Cagayan de Oro City. Her house was buried in a landslide when the quake struck.
Earthquakes will happen in the future. They just cannot be predicted to the minute. Within 24 hours, Friday’s temblor already generated at least 150 aftershocks. Those who remained in the evacuation centers, instead of returning to their homes, had every reason to be extra cautious.
Friday’s quake proved yet again that there is no such thing as an earthquake proof area in the Philippines. People in locales like Cebu ought to have been jolted since then to work harder to be earthquake prepared.
The government’s project Noah or Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards needs to culminate in a new culture of readiness and responsiveness to earthquakes among residents.
Between the earthquakes of Feb. 6 and Aug. 31, how far have we grown in our capacity to grapple with Earth’s tantrums?
In a densely populated metropolis like Cebu, are people more educated about earthquakes?
Have building and public works officials upped the ante on inspecting dwellings, edifices and other infrastructure for structual integrity?
Have earthquake drills become commonplace in schools, offices, factories and other crowded areas?
Have education officials and the academe from kindergarten to college gone the extra mile in integrating earthquake preparedness and responsiveness into the curricula?
We have had two major earthquakes this year to serve as portents of more in the future. The consequences have been minor compared to the destruction in the wake of the quake that hit Baguio City in July 1990. But If we do not get our act together this time, we will be culpable in the future on acccount of our complacency for poor response to a rampaging planet.
More from this Column:
- To concede is an act of grace
- Cleaning up
- For Cebu City in three years
- Plugging the holes
- Fall of (some of ) Cebu’s old guard