Saturday , June 23, 2018

Editorial: The season of readiness

LAST night's rain and the flood that followed should tell us once and for all that floods are here to stay. Thus, those who live in flood prone areas should know better than wait for the last minute to leave and risk being stranded.

Bangkal was its usual flooded state. Worst off was Bunawan, which remained flooded until the morning, and this is understandably so.

Bangkal's flood usually emanates from Pangi and Talomo Rivers. Pangi is short but flood-prone river whose headwater is somewhere in Calinan District. Talomo is much longer and runs up to the foothills of Mt. Apo, and thus can carry much water if rain continues upstream. The river in Bunawan runs a more circuitous route upstream toward Davao del Norte and further up near the boundary of Bukidnon, and thus can also deliver a wallop if there's a lot of rain upstream.

And as we would often be told, the high tide makes it worse, as Monday night's high tide was. The highest point was reached almost half an hour after rain fell in downtown Davao City and ebbed at past 3 a.m. The hours-long rain and the high tide spelled flooding, and it did.

By this time, those who live in flood-prone areas should already have an idea how floodwater behaves in their neighborhood, where it's coming from and how high it can go. Thus, for as long as the waters do not reach above the window sills or at worst the ceiling, then remedial measures can already be made for appliances that are not easy to move. Investing on platforms high enough to spare the appliances during flooding will be a great help. Those plastic boxes sold in malls can be made water-tight simply by putting rubber strips on the rim of the box and then locking this with the cover. These can be used for the smaller items and clothes. In this way, they can be left home as water rises and they will just float around inside.

Locks are always a good thing to invest on, the sturdy ones. So that you can leave your house without having to worry if looters abound.

Now, with regards looters that cause people to stay in their flooded homes and risk being trapped, this can only be addressed as a community. Maybe the residents in a particular neighborhood or subdivision can encourage volunteers to be the scouts on boats or floaters; depending on the severity of the flooding. Or at least, guard the exits where the looters may pass.

By now, residents must have already realized that this is not just about individual households, but whole communities, and under such circumstances, cooperation and participation make for resilient communities, the type we need under worsening hazards from nature.

It pays to have an emergency survival kit for the family made up of drinking water, insect repellent, high-energy food like biscuits and peanut butter, ready to eat food in can or retort pack, and your staples like sugar and salt. Keep a plastic box handy to pack these in and go.