AN OFFICIAL from the Davao City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO) admitted that disaster and calamity preparedness and evacuation will be challenging while the city is still under the community quarantine due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
CDRRMO head Alfredo Baloran, in a radio interview on 87.5 FM Davao City Disaster Radio Wednesday, July 1, said several adjustments had to be made in their office's disaster and calamity response.
Baloran said the month of July is the National Disaster Resilience Month, with several activities related to disaster preparedness supposed to be conducted, including the supposed fourth year annual Citywide Shake Out Drill, an earthquake drill preparedness activity that would test Dabawenyos' preparedness in these times.
"Tungod bawal mag kumpol-kumpol, so girevise nato into some other activities atong himuon (We cannot do it because it will result to mass gathering, we decided to revise some of our activities)," he said, adding they will result to radio guestings, distribution of flyers and other information drive for now.
He said this year's celebration of the disaster preparedness activity is also centered on its adaption to the "new normal."
He underscored there is a need to be vigilant to other natural and man-made disasters amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Baloran said that since July is a rainy season, they are also anticipating other disasters such as flooding, rising water of riverbanks, and landslides.
He said they will strictly monitor flood- and landslide-prone areas. They will impose health standard protocols such as physical distancing in pre-emptive evacuations.
The CDRRMO official said they already coordinated with different barangays in the city to add more evacuation centers since the mandatory social distancing might cause shortage to allotted evacuees.
"We requested barangays to identify more evacuation areas in addition to their existing ones para ma maintain nato ang (so we could still maintain) social distancing," Baloran said.
He personally requested the City Government to exclude the evacuation centers as a quarantine facility for suspected and asymptomatic Covid-19 patients and coordinate with barangay officials to scout for more temporary sites in times of disaster.
He also instructed barangay officials to inform residents where to evacuate when it calls for it to avoid having close contact with other evacuees.
Baloran said the City plans to establish more evacuation centers in more areas, especially in disaster-prone areas.
Currently, the city has its first city evacuation center in Los Amigos in Tugbok District.
Previously, Baloran said the City plans to create major evacuation centers per district.
This year, he said they are hoping to start the construction in Catigan, Mandug, and Mahayag.
The city's first evacuation response in the time of Covid-19 was tested on April 29 after a fire razed several houses in New Society Village, Barangay Ilang, Bunawan District.
Health measures for evacuees affected by the fire were implemented.
The City Government personally mounted tents per household in the open areas to ensure that social distancing would still be implemented amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Barangay Ilang has a specific area that was placed under lockdown. A separate temporary shelter will be mounted for those families supposedly under strict quarantine, but were also affected by the fire.