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Legarda: Gov’t, LGUs must promote disaster preparedness to achieve zero casualty from severe tropical storm Auring

February 19, 2021

Former three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker, Loren Legarda today said that the national government, local government units (LGUs), including barangay officials, should already have conducted massive information dissemination campaign, in coordination with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), on the strength of the tropical cyclone and prepare the community evacuation plan as “Auring” intensifies into a severe tropical storm.

According to the latest bulletin of PAGASA issued at 11:00 AM today, “Auring” was estimated at 535 km East Southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur with maximum sustained winds of 95 km/h near the center. Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 1 was raised in Davao Oriental, eastern portion of Davao de Oro, Surigao del Sur, and eastern section of Agusan del Sur. It is forecasted to follow a northwestward path as it traverses CARAGA Region, Visayas, and MIMAROPA on Sunday and Monday. PAGASA also stated that the severe tropical storm is less likely to intensify to a typhoon at the moment.

“By now, the national government, the LGUs down to the barangays should ensure that their disaster preparedness mechanisms are already in place. They should be ready to implement disaster management and early warning systems in their respective areas, ensure that drainage systems had been cleaned up and cleared, temporary shelters should now be put up, and families living in landslide and flood-prone areas should now be evacuated to preempt any major disaster,” Legarda said.

Legarda called for a bolder and urgent climate action and stressed that as a country frequently visited by storms and typhoons, LGUs should now have their respective climate action plan to include improvement of disaster risk information through risk identification or assessment, making people more responsive to government-issued disaster warnings.

The three-term Senator encouraged the people, especially those in the vulnerable communities to be alert and monitor public storm warning signals issued by PAGASA and actively participate in effective disaster preparedness and recovery mechanism.

“There is a need for us to educate our people, especially those in the vulnerable sector in order to reduce exposure to hazard and massive destruction. I encourage the people, especially those in vulnerable communities and areas with public storm signals to be alert and heed public storm warning signals from PAGASA, regularly monitor weather updates, and cooperate with the LGU’s evacuation plan in case needed,” Legarda said.

Legarda also reminded the people of measures to undertake based on the Disaster Preparedness and First Aid Handbook, a manual that aims to educate citizens how to prepare for and respond to both natural and human-induced hazards, launched by the Senate Committee on Climate Change in 2011, which she chaired during her stint in the Senate.

What to do in case of typhoons:
• Stay indoors and keep calm.
• Monitor TV and radio reports.
• Secure your homes.
• Keep roads clear for emergency vehicles.
• Go to the nearest designated evacuation center if your house is in a flood-prone area.
• Have a flashlight and radio handy, with fresh batteries.
• Stock up on food, potable water, batteries, and first-aid supplies.
• In case of flooding, turn off the main sources of electricity, gas and water in your home.
• Stack furniture above the expected flood level. Keep appliances, valuables, chemicals, toxic substances, and garbage beyond the reach of floodwaters.
• Avoid low-lying areas, riverbanks, creeks and coastal areas, slopes, cliffs, and foothills. Rain can trigger landslides, rockslides or mudslides.
• Avoid wading through flooded areas. Do not attempt to cross flowing streams.
• Do not operate any electrical equipment during a flood.
• Do not use gas or electrical appliances that have been flooded.

“We should all be on heightened alert now. We should have learned from the past typhoons that cost too many lives and damaged livelihoods, properties and critical infrastructures. Let us not be complacent, especially after the massive flooding due to Typhoon Ulysses in November 2020 and the floods that hit Visayas at the beginning of the year,” Legarda said.

Legarda previously filed a House Resolution directing the House Subcommittee on the New Normal to conduct an inquiry on the massive flooding caused by typhoon Ulysses calling for stronger policy measures that will help avert future loss and damage and ensure sustainable and resilient recovery, in light of the escalating climate-related disaster risks.

“Disaster prevention starts long before a typhoon makes a landfall. We have to be more alarmed of the continued decline of the state of our environment that affects our ecosystem and the lives of millions of Filipinos. We need to strengthen our resilience to all kinds of hazards-natural and human-induced today, to ensure a much safer environment for our citizens to live in,” Legarda concluded.***