Wenceslao: Rainy days

Candid thoughts

I WROTE an essay years ago on storms. That was in the aftermath of typhoon Ruping that devastated Cebu Province and some other Visayan areas. I noted then that the devastation wrought by storms could be seen in a positive angle: it would help strengthen during the rebuilding phase whatever the storms destroyed.

That presupposes that people would learn their lessons well. I consider storms, earthquakes and other tragedies as a test of sorts. The earthquake that hit Cebu and Bohol years ago has made builders conscious of the need to build structures that could withstand tremors of at least the same magnitude as what shook us.

Old churches were reduced to rubble, which should have prompted the Catholic Church hierarchy to strengthen other churches via seismic retrofitting. I understand that in the recent earthquake that hit Luzon, some churches were again devastated.

The Philippines has two seasons, the wet and the dry seasons. There have been instances when the dry season is really hot and extends for a number of months, especially when the El Niño phenomenon hits. The wet season can turn really wet when the intervals between tropical depressions forming are short.

Okay, I don’t actually need to tell you that. Or we don’t have to remind government officials that. We are smack into the rainy season, and I suppose they have prepared during the dry months for the effects of the rain falling and tropical depressions hitting. Or am I supposing wrong?

Five-year-old John Clark Ebua was playing in the rain in Sitio Exoville, Barangay Basak-Pardo in Cebu City on July 13, Saturday, when he fell into an open box culvert. His body was found near the opening of the Tagunol bridge the next day. Why a manhole had been left open for months is now the subject of government officials’ blame game.

Open manholes are dangerous, especially during the rainy season when roads get flooded often. The new set of Basak-Pardo officials are blaming the old set of barangay officials for not attending to the complaint about the open manhole where the child died. But isn’t this part of a routine accounting as government officials prepare for the wet season?

Covering manholes, of course, is less of a priority than, say, clearing waterways of obstruction to prevent flooding. But the child’s death should be a lesson for government officials to give it some attention. The City’s Department of Engineering and Public Works has now promised to conduct an inventory of damaged manholes in its jurisdiction. Lesson learned, though a bit late.

The inventory must include not only open manholes but also waterway obstructions like trash and structures built on the banks of creeks and rivers. It also pays to revisit the hazard maps distributed by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources that pinpoint flood-prone and landslide-prone areas.

Again, we don’t have to tell our officials that. They are supposed to know the dry-season-and -wet-season-preparations routine already considering the repetitiveness of their occurrence.


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