Esnara: The theme in disaster response today

The Magangan Stan

THE Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has now officially declared on Friday, June 14, 2019, the onset of the wet or rainy season in the country. This means that weather disturbances such as southwest monsoon, thunderstorms and tropical cyclones are expected to be within us until the dry season (estimated to be on December) and its time to be ready to respond.

Responding means to answer or react to something. For instance, when someone said he loves you, try to answer or react as a response. Same is when a canal is clogged; remove the thing that clogs it as a simple response to the problem. And, basically, that when a typhoon is coming and your local DRRM warns you of it, you should respond to it by reacting or merely preparing.

Response in Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) context means almost the same. However, for your local DRRM council, as your public servant, it is a mandate. Response means ensuring life preservation and meeting the basic subsistence needs of affected population based on acceptable standards during or immediately after a disaster.

Just recall Typhoon Ompong last September 2018. A lot of response activities were done by your MDRRMC to ensure Life Preservation. Most common would be bringing vulnerable groups to the evacuation center and providing for their basic needs. Others went to rescue individuals who were flooded for the first time while those in the technical field went restoring damaged lifeline facilities such as that for roads, power supply and telecommunications.

But what if your local DRRM’s resources get exhausted? What if there are more requests for rescue than the number of available rescuers? And you were the last one who called for help?

The LGU has still limited resources and in a given point in time, of any response operation, is an expected resource insufficiency. This happens especially with hazards of maximum destruction capability like Magnitude 7 earthquake, or Typhoons of Signal no. 4. And it is disheartening, in a sense that you may want to help all, but you cannot, as your resources are depleted. That’s why, it is not recommended that everybody would resort to rescue operations when there is a Disaster.

Before the implementation of Republic Act 10121, the Disaster Management was more concentrated on responses, mostly. Meaning, Disasters are responded to as it comes and Rescuers are deployed to areas who calls for it first. It was quite frustrating especially when no more rescuers are available, and there is a lot of recorded casualties. But it gave us the best lessons in handling disasters. That we should not just respond when the disaster is here. That response should start when your Local DRRM gives you the reminders and warnings.

Exactly pointed out is the change of understanding in what disaster response should mean to us. Response efforts should start way beyond the arrival of any disaster. Response is to comply with the basic requirements of the law, or reacting to DRRM advices from your DRR Managers at least. That when Pagasa starts releasing public advisories of Tropical Cyclones, we respond by preparing for it and not just ignore. After all, your DRR managers will not give you advisories that will harm you. Everything given to you will help you.

When you start to practice responding to public advisories way beyond the coming of a Typhoon, you will no longer require rescuers and resources, which means, you will not contribute in the depletion of the DRRM resources, and you will be safe from the effects of the impending hazard or threats in your community. Now well that to be safe is to be responsive.


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