Moreno: Sendong-like tragedies 'a thing of the past'

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Friday, January 24, 2014


WITH a new project designed to prevent casualties and lessen the impact of weather disturbances, Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Oscar Moreno hopes the city will no longer experience Tropical Storm Sendong-like catastrophes in the future.

At the launching of the establishment of Early Warning System for Flash Flood Alert System (FFAS) in Northern Mindanao Thursday, Moreno is optimistic Sendong will be a thing of the past.

“Certainly, the idea is there will be no more Sendong,” Moreno told government officials and stakeholders.

He said the local government units have learned so much from Sendong that at the height of Typhoon Yolanda and Tropical Depression Agaton the people were prepared.

“During Agaton, everybody collaborated,” Moreno said, adding that “every experience we go through is a learning experience.”

He said the people must be involved in any initiative that concerns them.

“The community should take part in the process. Safety and security are primary concerns of government and community.”

With more early warning instruments that could detect potential flash floods that a weather disturbance may bring, Moreno said a repeat of another Sendong will no longer be experienced.

On December 16, 2011, flash flood brought by Tropical Storm Sendong (Washi) in the cities of Iligan and Cagayan de Oro claimed hundreds of lives, displaced thousands of residents and destroyed millions worth of properties.

The project will involve installation of additional rain gauge in Maasin bridge in barangay Nicdao, Baungon, Bukidnon; warning systems in barangay Balulang and at the city hall rooftop; and a water level sensor at the Puntod-Kauswagan bridge.

Named the Northern Mindanao Project, the new set of equipment was realized through the assistance of the National Disaster Management Institute (NDMI) of Korea.

The weather-detection instruments would have been up and running last December but was moved this month due to some problems with the Customs bureau, said Socrates Paat Jr., senior weather specialist at the Hydrometeorological Division of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration.

Coordination

Paat said Pagasa’s role in the project is to coordinate with the local government units (LGUs), and provide necessary connectivity and training for troubleshooting of the equipment and maintenance.

Once the weather-detection system is in place in designated areas, the city will have one less thing to worry about, said Alfonso Alamban, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) regional director.

Alamban hopes the project will not be left to misuse like what happened in other recipient-areas where instruments were rendered unusable due to neglect and vandalism.

Alamban said the change of weather patterns should not be taken for granted.

“Before, we were not affected by disasters but now region 10 is 6th of the most disaster-prone areas in the country,” he said, adding that “the role of technology can no longer be downplayed as we cope with disaster.”

For their part, the LGUs will assist Pagasa during the project implementation and they will also safeguard the instruments.

Venus Valdemoro, chief of Pagasa’s public information unit, said those who destroy or vandalize the solar-powered weather instruments will be punished under the RA 10344 or the Risk Reduction and Preparedness Equipment Protection Act.

That’s why, Valdemoro said, it is very important for people in the barangays to watch over the weather-monitoring equipment and protect them at all times.

Published in the Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro newspaper on January 24, 2014.

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