Project noah stays

MAYOR Jose Esgana of Santa Fe town in Bantayan Island, Cebu asked the National Government not to dissolve Project Noah, saying it is an effective disaster mitigating tool.

His appeal was also supported by former mayor Ricardo Ramirez in the northern town of Medellin, Cebu.

They said that the Project Noah’s mobile application helped them a lot in mapping out preparations for typhoon Yolanda more than three years ago.

Esgana told SunStar Cebu that Project Noah allowed the Santa Fe Municipal Government to immediately come up with evacuation and pre-typhoon preparations for Yolanda.

Both officials reacted to reports that the DOST-Project Noah will to be stopped starting this month.

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST), however, clarified that the Project Noah will still continue.

This time, though, it will now be handled by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), said DOST Secretary Fortunato Dela Peña.

In a statement posted on the agency’s official website, Dela Peña said that details of the project’s turnover were discussed among Pagasa officials and Dr. Mahar Lagmay, Project Noah executive director.

He also denied reports that the DOST is closing down Project Noah due to lack of funds.

Dela Peña said that like all research projects they have undertaken, Project Noah has a start and end date.
Project Noah was launched in 2011 and most of its components were completed in 2015.

The project was extended toward 2016 to cover additional targets and projects.

Another extension was made just before it will be transferred under Pagasa this month.

“The statement of no funds is for the current project, which really has a project end date. It has been stated clearly that new project proposals are welcome if there is a new study to be made,” said Dela Peña.

In DOST Central Visayas office, officials assured that they will continue to provide relevant information to the project once it will be transferred to Pagasa.

Engr. Jesus Zamora Jr., DOST 7 assistant director for technical operations, told SunStar Cebu that since the project started in 2011, they provided the data for Project Noah’s hazard maps through the equipment they locally produced and installed in major river systems and hazard-prone areas in the region.

The equipment included rain gauges, weather monitoring systems and water level monitoring.

But Zamora said that the primary role of the regional offices is only to provide baseline data to Project Noah, which is based in Manila.

For Pagasa officials, the addition of Project Noah to their capability is a big help in providing accurate weather information to the public.

Engr. Oscar Tabada, Pagasa Visayas acting director, said that its main mandate is to provide weather forecasts, but with Project Noah under their watch, this will allow them to map out possible flood, storm surge and typhoon scenarios that will be helpful in emergency responses.

Project Noah or Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards was created during the time of former president Benigno Aquino III.
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