Most Filipinos would not rather think about disasters now that Christmas is around the corner; but the fact that the world is in the middle of a pandemic shows that crises can strike at any given time.
Given the country’s location within the Pacific Ring of Fire, and that the Philippines experiences the most number of typhoons than anywhere else in the world, Filipinos should make disaster preparedness a daily habit and part of their culture.
To help achieve this, Panahon TV, which has long advocated disaster preparedness from its birth almost a decade ago, has a timely and useful gift for Filipinos this holiday season—the gift of disaster preparedness. A free webinar moderated by Panahon TV Reporter Patrick Obsuna will feature distinguished speakers and veterans in the field of disaster preparedness. Martin Aguda, author of Ready 101 and national representative to the International Association of Emergency Managers will talk about risk awareness, emergency planning, acquiring survival supplies, and the skills and drills needed to survive disasters. Meanwhile, Sandy Montano, an earthquake survivor and the CEO of Community Health Education Emergency Rescue Services (CHEERS) will shed light on government response during disasters, and the important role of women in preparedness.
Disaster Preparedness during the Pandemic will air on December 22 at 2 pm. Though the webinar is free, monetary donations are welcome and will be given to the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation for victims of Super Typhoon Rolly and Typhoon Ulysses.
To join the webinar, register here: https://bit.ly/2LBm5X3
Disasters strike like thieves in the night, unpredictable and dangerous. In a span of six days, they’ve wreaked havoc in different parts of the world, including the Philippines.
Sinkhole in Downtown Fukuoka
On November 8, a giant sinkhole ripped a busy road in the southwestern stretch of Fukuoka, Southern Japan. The 15-meter-deep sinkhole spanned 30 meters—
roughly half the size of an Olympic swimming pool. Though not a single person was injured, it caused interruptions in water, power, telecommunications and gas supply in some parts of the city. Residents speculated that the nearby subway construction might have triggered the slumping of the 5-lane thoroughway, but civil engineering experts attributed it to the soil’s composition, which is mostly sand.
Japan proved its efficiency in crisis management as sewage pipes and utility lines in the business district were restored in just two days. Nearly a week later, the collapsed road was repaired with a mixture of sand and cement, making it 30 times stronger than it used to be. On November 15, pedestrians and vehicles started using the re-opened street.
Quake in New Zealand
On November 13, a powerful 7.8 magnitude quake hit New Zealand’s South Island—the strongest in the region since 1929. Tsunamis towering up to 8 feet followed minutes after the groundshaking. These inundated communities in Kaikoura, a coastal town near the city of Christchurch. “This is the highest tsunami wave that New Zealand has seen in at least 38 years,” said Weather Watch New Zealand. According to experts, the tsunamis could have been more catastrophic if these transpired during high tide. Luckily, tide level was low at that time.
Apart from homes, livelihoods, office buildings and transport routes reduced to rubble, two fatalities in Canterbury were also reported. “In the short term, what we’re trying to do is to make sure that people of Kaikoura and the like have food, water, help and backup,” NZ Prime Minister John Key said.
No less than 40 aftershocks were recorded, but the strongest was a magnitude 6.2, which occurred a few hours after the major quake.
The 2016 Kaikoura quake has less death tolls than the massive 6.3 magnitude quake that struck Christchurch in 2011, causing 185 fatalities.
An average of 15,000 quakes per year are recorded in New Zealand, but about 150 are strong enough to be felt. The country is situated in the Pacific Ring of Fire, a horseshoe-shaped region where the most number of quakes and volcanic activities transpire.
On the same day, a 6.2 magnitude quake rocked Northwestern Argentina. The epicenter was recorded in the La Rioja province, but tremors were also felt in Catamarca, Tucuman, and Cordoba. However, these caused no damage and injuries.
Know how to prepare for huge quakes:
Volcano Erupts in Mexico
Western Mexico’s Colima Volcano, also known as the Volcano of Fire displayed unusual seismic activities, which prompted the evacuation of hundreds of people earlier this year. After a few months, this volcano erupted, forcing similar evacuations last October.
But last November 15, Tuesday, the abnormal activity of the volcano slowly increased as the new lava dome in its summit crater continued to grow. Its lava flow, rock fall, glowing avalanches and ash fall posed a threat to locals.
Colima Volcano has an elevation of nearly 4,000 meters with a 5-kilometer-wide crater mouth. 30 eruptions have been recorded in the past 431 years. It is considered one of the most active and dangerous volcanoes in Central America.
Know how to prepare for volcanic eruptions:
Mandaluyong faces State of Calamity
Three people died as 500 houses were burned down in an 8-hour blaze in Mandaluyong City on November 13, at around 7:45 pm. The fire consumed sections of two densely populated and fire-prone barangays. The Bureau of Fire Protection traced the cause to a leaking gas tank, and estimated property loss at 10 million pesos.
1,465 families from Barangays Addition Hills and San Jose were left homeless. Some have evacuated to a covered court and two elementary schools. The local government promised to provide financial assistance to the displaced families, and help them reconstruct their homes or move to new residences. P8,000 shall be given to families who lost their abodes; home sharers shall receive P5,000; while families who were renting would get P3,000.
On November 15, another fire incident transpired in Barangay Addition Hills—the fifth in the area for this year.
Here’s how you can prevent loss of lives and property due to fire especially this holiday season:
After the scorching heat of the previous months, rain showers and thunderstorms are now taking center stage. Apart from risks to our health, the rainy season also poses threats for those on the road.
Driving is more dangerous in heavy downpour, especially at night. To help ensure your safety, here are some tips:
Roads are more slippery when wet. Remember that there should be a four-second interval in between cars, so avoid tailgating or driving too close to the car in front of you. This helps avoid accidents, giving you enough time to brake or take action in case the car in front of you suddenly stops or swerves.
TURN WIPERS ON
Before you drive, ensure that your wipers and washer systems are functional. Front visibility can be hampered by hard rubber on old wipers, while dysfunctional washers that are unable to effectively clean the windshield can distort the view. Replace wipers regularly or at least once a year.
YES TO HEADLIGHTS
According to Autoindustriya.com, turning the headlights on does not improve your vision during rains, but increases your car’s visibility to traffic. This way, the drivers behind will be able to gauge their distance from you.
NO TO HAZARD LIGHTS
Hazard lights limit, not only your vision, but also that of drivers of the cars adjacent to you. These flashing lights, which can be very distracting, should only be used during emergencies or when you want to warn others that your vehicle has become a road hazard.
KNOW THE TERRAIN
It pays to familiarize yourself with your destination—not only with directions on how to get there, but also the location’s topography. Being informed about choke points and flood-prone areas can help divert you from danger and wasted time. If you are driving within Metro Manila, check out MMDA’s (Metropolitan Manila Development Authority) list of more than 80 flood-prone areas to avoid during a heavy downpour. Get the complete list: https://www.facebook.com/Panahon.TV/photos/?tab=album&album_id=1120283194682184
Take caution in driving through moving water especially if the ground is totally obscured. Stop the car before entering the flooded area and check the water level. If the water is deeper than the bottom of your doors or the bottom third of your wheels, attempting to drive through it might damage your electronic control systems. Look for a detour instead.
Road hazards are much harder to see at night. Watch out for road hazards such as open manholes, street diggings, humps and gullies. Aside from these, be aware of pedestrians or commuters. During rains, pedestrians carry umbrellas, which might limit their vision, causing them to overlook your vehicle.
HIT THE BRAKE & HAVE A BREAK
If you have problems with visibility or if you’re feeling uncertain about the road or terrain, find a safe place to park for a while. Learn to wait until the rain stops and for the flood waters to subside. Sometimes, it’s better to wait than to risk your vehicle and safety.
MONITOR THE WEATHER
Chances of rain, expected temperature, thunderstorms and flood alerts – being informed about these can save you. Knowing what the weather will be like within the next 24 hours will give you an idea on how traffic will behave throughout the day.
If the weather is really bad, think twice about going out. If not, it’s better to stay home and be safe rather than expose yourself to harm.
On the third week of April 2016, a series of massive earthquakes hit different parts of the world, killing more than 700 people. These raised a common question among Filipinos: Is the “Big One” about to happen in the country soon?
On April 14, a magnitude 6.2 earthquake shook the island of Kyushu in Southwest Japan. Unknown to many, this was just a foreshock of a bigger quake.
On a Friday morning, April 15, a massive magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Kumamoto in the Kyushu Region killing 48 people. More than 680 aftershocks were recorded since the April 14 foreshock—of these, 89 registered at magnitude 4 or more on Japan’s intensity scale.
As of posting, the incident left three persons missing, about 3,000 wounded, and nearly 100,000 people in evacuation centers in Kyushu. The quake damaged homes, schools, commercial buildings and roads. Meanwhile, car company plants of Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Daihatsu in Kyushu have also halted production due to a shortage of production components as a result of damaged facilities and assembly equipment.
A day after the destructive earthquake in Japan, a stronger 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Ecuador, a country located in the northwest part of South America.
Considered as Ecuador’s worst quake in nearly seven decades, the quake killed 654 people, injured 16,600 and left 58 others unaccounted for. In a statement over the weekend, Ecuador President Rafael Correa said that estimated damages are at $3 billion. More than 700 aftershocks continued to shake the country since the major quake.
Days prior and after these major quakes, strong tremors were also monitored in some parts of the world including Afghanistan (magnitude 6.6, April 10); Vanuatu (magnitude 6.9, April 14) Guatemala (magnitude 6.2, April 15); Myanmar (magnitude 6.9, April 13); and Tonga (magnitude 5.8, April 17).
WERE THE JAPAN AND ECUADOR QUAKES RELATED?
According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), no research has been done to prove that the two occurrences in Japan and Ecuador quakes are connected.
“It was one day after the Ecuador earthquake and two days after the Japanese earthquake… usually, we don’t think earthquakes are connected across the ocean,” said USGS geologist Paul Caruso in an interview with CNN International.
These two countries are also miles apart. Specifically, the distance between Japan and Ecuador is 15,445 kilometers.
WILL THE BIG ONE FOLLOW IN THE PH?
The recent earthquakes in our neighboring countries have raised the question from some Filipinos: Will a massive earthquake hit the country soon?
The Ring of Fire is a horseshoe-shaped area in the Pacific border, described as a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activities, or earthquakes.
On April 14, the same day when a 6.2 magnitude foreshock hit Japan, a magnitude 6.0 earthquake struck Baliguian, Zamboanga Del Norte. As of press date, this has been the strongest quake to hit the Philippines this month. According to the Zamboanga City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, the incident injured three people and damaged four houses in Barangay Sinunoc.
However, in an interview with Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology and Volcanology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum Jr., he debunked beliefs that quakes around the world indicate an impending tremor in the country: “Hindi ito mga indikasyon, kung ang pag-uusapan ay lindol sa iba’t ibang mga bansa. Ang pagkakaroon ng malakas na paglindol ay possible naman talaga dito sa ating bansa.”
(Quakes are always possible in the Philippines, but their occurrences in other parts of the world are not indicators that a tremor will also happen in the country.)
“Sa nakalipas na apat na raang taon, nagkaroon na ng siyamnapu’t na destructive earthquakes. At posible pang mangyari sa mga susunod na panahon. Kaya lang, wala pa tayong masasabi kung kelan talaga mangyayari ito. Wala pang nakakapag-predict ng earthquake, na magsasabi sa ’tin ng oras, ng araw, at ng magnitude ng earthquake na posibleng mangyari. Pero ang importante, alam natin ang posibleng mangyaring mga lindol, pwede natin malaman kung gaano kalakas o kung gaano pwedeng mangyari’t pwedeng paghandaan.”
(In the past 400 years, 90 destructive earthquakes were recorded, which took place at a time and day no one was able to predict. Although these events remain unpredictable, what is important is that we know the possible strength and impacts of earthquakes. Hence, we can prepare.)
Meanwhile, to intensify community preparedness and the local government’s commitment, the National Simultaneous Earthquake Drill was held last April 21, a week after the major earthquakes in Japan and Ecuador occurred.
A ceremonial launch was conducted at Clark Airbase in Pampanga, which was designated as the government’s headquarters in case the “Big One” happened in Metro Manila and nearby places, where a “very ripe” West Valley Fault is located.
The West Valley Fault has a 100-kilometer length, crossing Rizal, Marikina, Quezon City, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, Muntinlupa and Laguna. Thirty five percent of the population inhabiting the said areas live right above this fault line.
While earthquakes remain unpredictable and inevitable, preparedness also remains as a salient factor in spelling the difference between life and death.
“Ang paghahanda po sa lindol ay hindi madali. Napakaraming gagawin. Hindi ‘yan tulad ng bagyo. Lahat nakakapagbigay ng babala at pwedeng maghanda ang mga tao bago dumating ang mga ito. Ang mga paglindol ay biglaan kaya ang ating pagreresponde ay mabilis, angkop. Depende sa konteksto kung nasaan ka. Kaya dapat ang ating aksyon pag lilindol na ay mabilisan, tama at mangyayari lamang ito kung ang ating pagsasanay ay madalas,” said Solidum.
(Earthquake preparedness is complex. It is not like storms that can be predicted and prepared for. Earthquakes can occur anytime without warning. Thus, actions need to be quick, accurate, and within context. These things can only be done with frequent drills and preparedness measures.)
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