Dagupan City identifies evacuation buildings for tsunamis, surges
DAGUPAN CITY, Philippins—In case of a tsunami or storm surge, residents of this coastal city in Pangasinan province will no longer have to crowd public school buildings and other usual evacuation sites.
The city government has identified at least 500 high-rise buildings in different villages where residents can seek refuge during extreme weather conditions.
“The safety of every Dagupeño is our top priority,” said Mayor Belen Fernandez during the kick-off program of National Disaster Consciousness Month last week.
Fernandez said the buildings, which include houses, had at least three stories, higher than the tsunami wave crest that could be generated by an earthquake in the West Philippine Sea. Dagupan faces the Lingayen Gulf, which opens to the West Philippine Sea.
Public schools and buildings, which are used as evacuation centers, are mostly single-story buildings.
A tsunami hazard map prepared by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) showed that an 8.3-magnitude earthquake generated by the Manila Trench could produce a 7-meter-high tsunami that could hit this city.
The Manila Trench is an active fault line about 100 kilometers west of Bolinao town in Pangasinan.
“We have already signed a memorandum of agreement with the owners to ensure that in case of a tsunami or storm surge, they will open their establishments to evacuees from their respective communities,” Fernandez said.
Two years ago, Phivolcs installed five tsunami sensors and warning system in the Lingayen Gulf that could warn residents of impending disaster.
The system, which was developed by the Department of Science and Technology’s Advanced Science and Technology Institute, detects tsunamis that may be generated by the movement of the Manila Trench.
Dagupan, which has an average ground elevation of 1 meter, is vulnerable to flooding. A high tide of more than a meter can submerge at least seven villages along the rivers occupying 40 percent of the city’s land area.
Dagupan is crisscrossed by seven rivers and 14 creeks.
Fernandez reminded residents about the importance of family preparedness.
“The barangay (village) and the city will help everyone, but we still have to prepare ourselves. Let’s start with our families,” she said.–Gabriel Cardinoza
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