MANILA, Philippines – “When we don’t have training, seminars, or drills in our area, it’s very chaotic and unorganized during floods,” said Sta Lucia Barangay Captain William Bawag.
Residents, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and local officials from Barangay Sta Lucia, Quezon City carried out a flood drill on July 30.
Residents walked the streets of Quezon City early Wednesday morning, carrying clothes, cooking materials, and sleeping bags. They were headed to the evacuation center.
Some parents carried their young children, while others held hands.
“What I’ve learned today is to be always prepared for the worst disaster. I will share with neighbors and family my knowledge on what to do before, during, and after disasters,” Nora Gutiepez, a participant, said.
The residents queued in a covered basketball court for registration. The court is also used as an evacuation center during emergencies.
To maintain safety, local authorities asked residents to stay in groups of 8 to 10 that are properly arranged within the basketball court.
Suddenly, a woman had an epileptic seizure. The emergency aid team helped her and provided an oxygen mask until the ambulance arrived.
“The drill aims to test the community’s flood management. We also want to improve the community’s plans after the drill evaluation,” said Maria Cagay, deputy executive director of the Center for Disaster Preparedness.
The Center for Disaster Preparedness, a regional resource center based in the Philippines, works with the government towards positive change. The center provides training, research, and knowledge management.
Cagay stressed that the implementation of the local government unit (LGU) is “very essential” during disaster preparations because such efforts require clear plans and a top-to-bottom approach.
“Villagers need to know exactly who to seek for help,” she added.
Each community needs a leader not only for preparations and response, but also for assessment. This includes the assessment of transportation, medical support, registration and the like.
Of course, the actual participation and understanding of residents play a key role.
“When we receive flooding alert messages from the mayor, our barangay communication officer will bring the message to local villagers to make sure that they are informed about the upcoming disaster,” Bawag said.
Preparedness is the best way to protect people from risks during disasters, but the government should not shoulder this alone.
Cagay advised residents not to depend heavily on the government. “People should also have responsibility of preparing well. They should know where to go and what to do during emergencies.”
“After flooding, there’s a lot of waste. We need to clean them up. However, the neighboring barangays don’t always cooperate with us. We cannot do it alone. That’s the main challenge,” shared Moeine Salonga, Sta. Lucia Barangay Secretary.
The Philippines will continue to face more even disasters, unless its solid waste management law and flood control projects are properly implemented, according to Senator Loren Legarda, chairperson the Senate committee on climate change.
Salonga reminded communities to take solid waste management seriously.
All photos by San Sel
This article was originally posted on Rappler.