Thursday , April 26, 2018

'Yolanda' survivors hold evacuation drill inside cave

MARABUT, Samar -- Ahead of its third anniversary, survivors of Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) commemorated the disaster on October 29 by joining an evacuation drill in Tinabanan Cave, the usual evacuation center of Barangay Tinabanan, this town, during calamities.

During wars and disasters, the cave served as the “natural” evacuation center of the townsfolk because it’s the only wide, safe and flood-free area in the municipality.

Last October 29, over 50 community folks underwent an emergency drill inside the cave. The training included tips on how to make portable toilets, makeshift kitchen, and the lighting of the whole cavern using the “TekPak,” a portable solar device capable of powering lights, mobile phones, and medical devices.

The evacuation drill was organized by the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), in partnership with the local government of Marabut, Food for the Hungry, and other civil society organizations.

The ICSC, a policy group based in the Philippines that promotes low carbon development initiatives, sustainable energy solutions and fair climate policy in vulnerable countries, introduced for free the use of “TekPak” in the community.

Portable solar-powered electricity, like the TekPak, is currently being proposed to become an integral component in disaster preparedness programs and humanitarian work. In the aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda, many communities further suffered when they lacked immediate access to electricity or ran out of fuel to power their generators and light their kerosene lamps.

“Our Yolanda experience three years ago taught us that access to better energy source is an urgent need in vulnerable communities. Renewable energy should become a vital component in disaster risk reduction and humanitarian work because it is easy to deploy and is not reliant on complicated logistics during disasters,” said Arturo Tahup, ICSC project coordinator.

The Institute has provided training on solar installations and troubleshooting to hundreds of Typhoon Yolanda survivors, including those from Marabut town, under its Solar Scholars program, which aims to turn Yolanda survivors into first responders in times of disaster.

The drill was participated in by Solar scholars, residents of Tinabanan village and key officials of Marabut, Samar.

The cave in Barangay Tinabanan is where villagers sought refuge during typhoons. Elsewhere in the municipality, there were two other caves used for the same purpose. Many other caves in Samar were also used as evacuation centers during Typhoon Yolanda.

In the neighboring Basey town, Sohoton, Basiao, Saob, and Rawis caves also became safe havens for people running from strong winds and storm surges.

In Guiuan Eastern Samar, the caves of Tarambungan Sikob also served as temporary shelters for evacuees against the inclement weather. (Sunnex)