BETTER preparedness is the key to surviving earthquakes and other natural disasters, an official of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said in a reminder to the public on the ninth anniversary of the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that hit Bohol in 2013.

In an interview with SunStar Cebu, officer-in-charge of Phivolcs 7 Lapu-Lapu City Seismic Station Robinson Jorgio urged the public to have a “proactive mindset” to disaster preparedness considering that catastrophes such as earthquakes do not happen at a definite time.

Jorgio encouraged people to have their homes “earthquake-proof” or to consult structural engineers as much as possible when planning house developments or expansions.

While he acknowledged that not all people have the budget to properly plan their house, Jorgio said preparing a three-day survival kit which has food, water and light, among others, is even more essential.

“The most important thing is our family’s preparedness. We must plan our survival for at least three days during calamities,” Jorgio said.

“People should be aware that when these earthquakes hit, the intensity could at least reach 8, equivalent to a magnitude of around 6.5 and above, enough to damage structures, roads and bridges, and isolate some areas. So, they should be ready with the essentials at all times,” he added.

Bohol quake

On the morning of Oct. 15, 2013, Bohol, particularly in Sagbayan, was struck by a massive earthquake that also affected Cebu and other parts of the Visayas and Mindanao.

The earthquake affected over 1.2 million people, with 222 fatalities (195 in Bohol). At least 976 were reported injured, eight individuals were reported missing, and over 79,000 structures including homes, roads, churches, schools, and public buildings were damaged.

In Cebu, the disaster left at least 17 people dead. The tremor damaged structures, including the Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC), Mandaue City Public Market, and the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño de Cebu.

Learning from what happened, Jorgio said the Phivolcs 7 added more equipment, such as a seismographs, accelerograms and intensity meters that would help in the early and timely detection of earthquakes, particularly within their Bohol and Cebu offices.

At present, Phivolcs 7 is “highly monitoring” at least nine active and seven potentially active fault lines within Central Visayas.

Jorgio identified some of these potentially active fault lines as the Balamban Fault, Central Highland Fault, Uling-Masaba Fault and Lutac-Jaclupan Fault in Cebu, and the following active fault lines: Bohol Sea Fault, East Bohol Fault and the North Bohol Fault in Bohol, whose movement caused the earthquake in 2013.

Jorgio said potentially active fault lines are somewhat more dangerous as they accumulate a large amount of energy before they fully activate, which may cause the worst casualties and damage.

Better prepared

Meanwhile, the Cebu City Government has learned its lessons and is now better prepared nine years after the 2013 massive quake.

Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CCDRRMC) chairman Gerardo Carillo told SunStar Cebu Friday, Oct. 14, that their office has been conducting a series of drills to prepare the public for any disastrous event.

The disaster council is also doing regular inspections on the structural integrity of school buildings and other infrastructure to ensure that they can withstand strong quakes.

“We will always be prepared but as to the question if we are fully prepared, only God can answer that if, for example, it will be very strong,” said Carillo.

Structural integrity

Carillo noted that during their inspections, there were around 20 school buildings that still needed to be retrofitted to ensure that they will be safe during any calamities.

He said the CCDRRMC has already coordinated with the Local School Board for the speedy rehabilitation of these buildings.

The Office of the Building Official is also constantly monitoring the integrity of high-rise buildings and private structures in the city, Carillo said.

The City Government is also requiring developers and contractors to conduct a soil test before building a structure to make sure that the ground is safe and reliable, he added.

Funds

The Cebu City Government has allocated P10 million for the text blast system that will be used to inform or warn the public of any impending disaster. This can also be used to send information after an earthquake.

Another P10 million will be spent on the purchase of television monitors for every barangay hall in the city.

The monitors will display all details about the disaster or calamity so that all barangays can have easy access to the information needed for a speedy response, said Carillo.

According to Carillo, the full implementation of the early warning devices will be next year, 2023. (IRT, BBT)