BEING resilient to disaster takes on an added dimension in the aftermath of the Olango Island problem.
With hundreds of people stranded on the island because of the suspension of sea voyage after the weather bureau raised gale warnings, disaster management authorities should take into consideration instances when a population becomes isolated such as what happened to Olango.
Experts have defined disaster resilience to include preparedness, adaptability, coping and recovery. The component of having enough stock of food, fuel and water should be added to this.
The pleas of residents of Olango (population: 50,000 in 11 barangays) became more urgent by the day as they remained stranded without access to work, livelihood and basic utilities as of last Friday, Aug. 9, 2019.
As San Vicente Barangay Captain Cyrus Eyas said: “Bugas ug panud-an wa na, kay dili man pud makapanagat. Bisag buwad wa na gyud pud. (There’s no more rice and viand to cook since we can’t go out to fish. There’s not even dried fish to eat.)”
Pangan-an Barangay Captain Virgilio Casiao, in turn, said that being unable to set sail has left the coastal community of Olango at a great disadvantage in terms of food and livelihood. “Hasta panginhas lisod kay ang hunasan banlason man pud sa mga dagkong bawod (Even gleaning for shellfish in the tidal flats is difficult because they get washed away by the big waves).”
Markets and pharmacies have also temporarily shut down after running out of stock to sell. As of Friday, what turned urgent was the community’s need for fuel. Eyas said fuel supply lasted only until that day. The big gas stations located in Barangays Tungasan and Sta. Rosa have also run out of gasoline. “Our modes of transportation (motorcycle and tricycle) here are left idle because there’s no more gasoline,” Eyas said in a SunStar Cebu report.
Barangay Captain Casiao said they have started using their solar-powered backup generator from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. after they ran out of crude oil. The development of solar power, as shown in the Olango situation, should be considered by planners to make communities resilient to disaster.
It is probably the first time Olango was isolated in this way and for this long a period but it will not be the last because of the regularity of typhoons this half of the year. Help has started reaching the island after the Philippine Coast Guard sent Friday its brp Suluan (Multi Role Response Vessel-4406) to transport passengers and emergency food supply. Coast Guard officers said they will continue with the voyage between Olango and mainland Cebu and transport as much supply and passengers.
There wasn’t even a typhoon signal raised in Cebu Sunday last week, Aug. 4, when the order was issued to suspend sea travel because of the gale or strong winds brought about by typhoon Hanna. It would have been worse had Cebu been in the typhoon’s path.