Local officials, disaster risk reduction and city planning officers, as well as local government unit (LGU) consultants in Eastern Visayas or Region 8 are now better prepared to deal with earthquakes and typhoons as strong as Yolanda after taking part in the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) information campaign on disaster preparedness recently at the Sabin Resort Hotel in Ormoc City, Leyte.

Dubbed “Iba na ang Panahon (INAP): Science for Safer Communities,” the nationwide information roadshow introduces participants to Project NOAH - DOST’s flagship program – and other science-based technologies such as 3D hazard maps, flood simulation models, simulation software, and mobile applications for disaster information, to arm them with the latest tools available for early warning.

“The number one feature I’ve learned is how to use Project NOAH,” said Dr. Catalina Petilos, an LGU consultant from the municipality of Dulag in Leyte who attended the two-day event.

Leyte province includes the cities of Tacloban and Ormoc, two of the most affected areas in the wake of super typhoon Yolanda which slammed several parts of Visayas in November 2013. Ormoc was also the site of heavy rainfall and severe landslide in 1991 which claimed the lives of many.

“Through NOAH, we can have a glimpse of the typhoon’s path, when it will make landfall, the level of flooding, and where the floods will occur, so that we can inform our constituents to move to higher ground,” said Dr. Petilos whose nephew was among the 22 who perished in Dulag because of Yolanda.

According to her, the casualties were due to coconut trees that fell, hitting some individuals and affecting coconut farmers. “There is already an action plan for the agricultural sector by the Municipal Agriculture Office (MAO),” shared Dr. Petilos. “I would let them revisit their plan and I will input the action plans [we formulated in the workshop], not just in MAO but in all sectors of our locality.”

The information campaign included workshops and exercises where participants identified hazard risks in their communities and developed action plans for affected sectors, including agriculture.


Region 8 updates

Participants were also updated on developments regarding these science-based tools and technologies.

Foremost of these is the completion of hazard maps for Tacloban City, copies of which will soon be turned over to the city government, said DOST Regional Director Edgardo M. Esperancilla.

Meanwhile, the DREAM-LiDAR program, a component of Project NOAH, is now completing its survey of Eastern Visayas to add to its 100,000 square kilometers of coverage for 3D flood models.

DOST-PHIVOLCS is putting up a sea level detection system in Eastern Samar to provide Leyte with advanced information on the height of the sea level. “This is very important for tsunami warning. It can also be used to monitor the height of a storm surge,” explained PHIVOLCS Director Renato U. Solidum. “We’re also putting up earthquake intensity monitors. The latest we’ve installed are in Ormoc City, in their City Hall. They can actually get the intensity of the earthquake. The intensity will be sent directly to the web server of PHIVOLCS so that the responders, Office of Civil Defense, media, and others will find out which communities are affected by greater intensity,” Dir. Solidum added.

Another development involves pictures of storm surge occurrence actually taken in the Philippines for inclusion in DOST-PAGASA’s video clips about the natural phenomenon. Previously, PAGASA relied on pictures taken in the United States for its video clips.

INAP is a joint undertaking between DOST, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, and the Office of Civil Defense. It will be capped by its NCR leg at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila on May 29-30, 2014. (S&T Media Service)

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