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Editorial

Improve disaster preparedness

/ 02:28 PM November 18, 2013

Amid the din of voices castigating the government for its tentative response to the devastation wrought by supertyphoon Yolanda, (nevermind that their noise is ill-timed, tactless and unhelpful), we build on the sane and reasonable proposals that emerged.

The weather bureau needs translators to help communicate its message.

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Weather advisories would be more effective when scientific terms such as “storm surge” are rendered not only in the layman’s terms. What is “storm surge” in Cebuano, Waray-Waray, Hiligaynon and the rest of the nation’s approximately 70 languages?

The communication departments of state colleges and universities together with the Philippine Information Agency must help concerned agencies embark on a massive, continual campaign to inform and educate people about how to prepare for disaster.

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Congress must amend the Water Code in light of the planet’s precarious situation amid the onset of climate change.

As we saw in the case of storm-ravaged Tacloban City and other cities in the Visayas, the minimum distance between man-made structures and water bodies stipulated by the law may no longer be enough to ensure that people are protected when the sea gives the land a licking.

Governors to barangay captains from now on need to crack down on those who stubbornly reside by or on our waterways.

Local leaders must also be familiar with the topography of the areas under their stewardship to know where best to evacuate their constituents when the need arises.

The evacuation of a thousand residents of Tulang Diyot islet in San Francisco town, northern Cebu is a model of how to achieve zero casualty when storms come.

Personnel from the offices of building officials must routinely check houses and other edifices, especially the usual places of refuge like schools and gymnasiums for their capability to withstand typhoons and even earthquakes. They must be fortified, pronto.

The National Housing Authority, in coordination with Congress if necessary, can devise mechanisms to fund the reinforcement of houses made of flimsy materials.

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Community and provincial environment offices would do well to prioritize mangrove planting all-year-round. Unlike greening the mountains, planting mangroves that minimize the force of waves does not depend for success on the wet season.

The public needs to be informed regularly about the status of reforestation programs not only to ensure the growth of seedlings but to encourage more tree growing that prevents deadly landslides and flooding.

We must be proactive in relief work. Can goods be ready for distribution in safe storage spaces across the country rather than await repacking and redistribution when disaster strikes? We already know the average number of typhoons that hit the country. That knowledge and the maintenance of relief centers will reduce arbitrariness and cut down red tape in apportioning calamity funds.

The Department of Energy ought to update us fast about the status of its search for and development of renewable sources of energy that do not sicken the planet and upset the climate.

We do not need to sacrifice people to storms to have gravitas in calling for the global reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

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TAGS: Disaster preparedness, editorial, Supertyphoon Yolanda
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