Legarda: Yolanda, New Benchmark For Disaster Prevention

November 26, 2013

Senator Loren Legarda today said that Typhoon Yolanda is the new benchmark for disaster prevention and preparedness, which means that communities should be ready for typhoons with wind speed of above 300 kph, even if this means upgrading standards for buildings.


Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committees on Climate Change and Environment and Natural Resources, said that recent disasters in the country show the need to upgrade the standards for building infrastructure to ensure that they withstand strong winds and quakes.


“We must build resilient, stronger and better communities, which means we have to raise the standard for building structures in the country. We must design structures that can resist winds of more than 300 kph and intensity 9 earthquakes,” she explained.


“This would be challenging and may cost more, but it is more challenging and more costly to provide relief and rebuild communities every single time a typhoon arrives or a strong earthquake occurs because of lack of preparedness. Natural hazards are inevitable but we can prevent them from turning into disasters if we are prepared,” she stressed.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Typhoon Yolanda had a wind speed of about 235 kph; while the magnitude 7.2 earthquake in Bohol registered an intensity 7 ground shake in the province.


Legarda said that in building community resilience, the structural integrity of buildings and other structures should not be compromised. For instance, coastal structures, including roads and bridges, should be built and designed considering a two-meter sea-level rise due to climate change.


She stressed that all new schools and hospitals must be designed with disaster prevention and mitigation in mind and built with extra safety measures.


The UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) recommends that all new hospitals and schools add 4% of total construction cost to be spent on disaster mitigation and extra safety measures.


Moreover, local government units must also include in their development and investment plans the establishment of disaster-resilient shelters against typhoon, storm surge and tsunami.


“We must rebuild communities aware of the lessons of Yolanda, Sendong, Pablo, the Bohol quake and all other major disasters that have brought us to our feet. We must not rebuild the risk. We must rebuild wiser and smarter,” Legarda concluded.