Friday, August 10, 2012

Water Log

As bad as the storm was that just passed through Luzon , it's likely that sometime in the future, there will be an even worse period of prolonged and intense rain. And that doesn't even include  typhoons. So the question is whether or not the civil authorities learn anything from such disasters in order to be better prepared for the next one.

In 2009 Metro-Manila was similarly flooded by another disastrous storm,named "Ondoy" . One  difference between that calamity and this week's monsoon was that the former dumped a huge amount of water in an approximately six hour period, whereas this week's storm was spread out over two days. But the effect was the same in both instances: flooding, deaths, and property damage.  The local weather bureau, PAGASA   was caught flatfooted by Ondoy, and as result so was the local and national government.  However, this time,  PAGASA monitored the situation more closely, and civil authorities seemed to react more quickly and did a better job in deploying first responders. In turn this undoubtedly reduced the number of drownings that would otherwise have occurred. Also there seemed to be more emergency shelters available for those who were stranded or left homeless.

My neighborhood, Eastwood City, was relatively unscathed.  But had it not been for a seawall that was built immediately after Ondoy, this area would also likely have been flooded,which is what happened in 2009.  This week,just like that time, the nearby Marikina River overflowed from the frequent rains which had fallen continually over the past several days and for which the deluge on Tuesday and Wednesday was the last straw. Looking over the seawall, I observed that the community across the river--which lacks a corresponding protective barrier--was partly submerged.

On Tuesday, the President of the Philippines ordered (what turned out to be a two-day) closure of most government offices and private companies in the affected areas. This meant an interruption of delivery from suppliers to those businesses that stayed open, such as convenience stores. In turn this resulted in a shortage of some food items and bottled water.  This was worrisome as the latter product can become vital during flooded conditions because the safety of the municipal the water system can be compromised under such circumstances. Fortunately, that didn't happen--this time.

Just as government and businesses should plan for emergencies, it almost goes without saying that indiviuals should do likewise. Personally, I had become complacent and was ill-prepared for this storm. For example, at the first sign early  Tuesday morning that this was not an ordinary rain, I should have stocked up on essentials. In fact, that's something that I ought to have done long ago. Next time I hope to be ready. And inasmuch  as the Philippines is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world when it comes to natural disasters, as previously noted it's likely that "next time" won't be long in coming.