MANILA — With the monsoon season expected to go full swing within a few weeks, local government units (LGUs) in northern metro Manila — Caloocan, Malabon, Navotas and Valenzuela — also known (CAMANAVA) announced the various preparations they have put in place for possible emergencies during the rainy season.
Each LGU in CAMANAVA has its own set of contingency measures should the need arises this monsoon period.
The CAMANAVA area is especially prone to flooding as some parts of it, more or less, are two meters below sea level.
Five percent of the annual budget of the city government as provided for under Republic Act 10121 — also known as An Act Strengthening The Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction And Management System, Providing For The National Disaster Risk Reduction And Management Framework And Institutionalizing The National Disaster Risk Reduction And Management Plan — must be spent on disaster risk reduction management.
In Caloocan, CDRRMC head Alex P. Nadurata said the budget for their disaster response and recovery plan this year is Php153.97 million.
Nadurata said 29 of 188 barangays in Caloocan City are classified as low-lying barangays which means they are prone to severe flooding during the rainy season.
Part of the preparations tackled in their annual emergency management trainings include the following:
— Hazardous materials handling and management for rescue personnel;
— Community Disaster Risk Preparedness for the 188 Barangay Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (BDRRMC)
— Community Disaster Risk Preparedness for Homeowner’s Association;
— Community Disaster Risk Preparedness for Informal Settlers
Aside from these, Nadurata said that they also conducted earthquake, flood and fire drills for government employees using the Incident Command System and Mass Casualty Incident for public and private hospitals, public institutions and barangays.
Nadurata said they have 52 personnel who are now continuously building their capability on health and medical management for rescue operations.
Caloocan City also invested on equipment and tools for emergency warning and signal; construction of DRRMO Building (South Caloocan); emergency SMS broadcast system (8 units), ambulance (4 units), all-terrain rescue hovercraft (4 units), fiber boat (3 units) rescue vehicles, purchase of life saving and safety equipment .
Nadurata said they continue providing information though the following:
— Planning and research; capacity building workshop for DRRMO; training on Rapid Earthquake Damage Assessment System (REDAS) software (executive and legislative officials); formulation of Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) Plan; review and updating of evacuation center and open space; public information, education and communication (IEC) services and production and distribution of IEC materials on disaster risk reduction management.
To improve their preparation efforts, the rescue team regularly undergo refresher trainings on the proper handling of equipment.
According to Nadurata, with the help of national government like the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), which conduct regular check on the pumping stations and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority which is in charged with declogging of waterways clean-up drives.
“I urged everyone to take part in these preparations. If everyone will cooperate and work together, we will truly be ready for anything,” he said.
In Malabon, Roderick Tongol, chief of CDRRMC, said Php53.602 million has been allotted for this year’s disaster preparedness and response.
Tongol said that 70 percent of the budget is for preparedness while 30 percent is for quick response.
The city bought 27 closed-circuit television (CCTV) units which are now installed in the 21 barangays. These CCTVs will help make flood monitoring real time thus concerned authorities can come out with their respective decisions — like class cancellations — faster.
Tongol said they have 13 employees manning a command center where they monitor live feeds from the 27 CCTVs.
He said that for now there is no permanent solution in sight yet for the perennial flooding in Malabon since it serves as natural catch basin for water coming from Quezon City, Caloocan, Valenzuela, and even Obando in Bulacan.
Tongol, however, said flooding and its effects can be mitigated with the help of the command center, 18-man rescue team and 80 traffic enforcers as force multipliers aside from barangay, local police and fire department.
Of the 21 barangays, seven are considered high risk. A total of 108 evacuation centers have been identified in these areas that can accommodate thousands of evacuees if necessary.
This year, the city bought one multi-hazard truck, 19 fiber glass boats, 250 life vests, rescue vehicles and other equipment which are already deployed in strategic areas.
He added that they have also conducted evacuation seminars in barangays and flood drills for voluntary evacuation prior to flooding instead of a forced evacuation.
The CDRRMC also introduce the Smart Infoboard, that can contact people via SMS and get feedback on what’s happening in all the areas here in the city.
Tongol said it is called Project Noah’s Ark, a private sector-funded activity that helps draw a solid disaster management plan for local governments.
He added through trainings and workshops, the project develops the capacities of partner LGUs to prepare for flooding.
According to Tongol, the CDRRMC transmit the announcement to the 21 barangays using web-based solution Smart Infoboard service, allowing registered subscribers to connect with other Infoboard members through text broadcasts, using a common, unique access code.
For officials, the city government also issued them two-way radios in case cellular phone signals are not available during calamities for continuous communication and coordination.
”We in Malabon are now equipped and proactive, in terms of disaster preparedness. The duties and responsibilities of each community have been defined; we are now organized, and the city has managed to establish a good working relationship with the barangays. Most importantly, we can now recognize the events requiring immediate activation of preparedness and response, since we have the technical capacity to assess and analyze the situation,” Tongol noted.
Tongol cited the help of DPWH in providing river wall and pumping stations and MMDA for the clean-up of creeks and canals.
In Navotas, retired Sr. Supt. Antonio B. Militar (DSC), chief of local Disaster Risk Reduction Management said their budget for this year is Php33.8 million as emergency groups are on alert 24 hours a day, especially during heavy downpours.
Militar said the city has 38 CCTVs in major roads for real time monitoring of floods.
He added that the Flood Control Monitoring Team of the Municipal Engineering Office (MEO) see to it that all pumping stations are fully operational and ensure that all drainage systems are functional. Likewise, the Municipal Social Welfare and Development Office (MSWDO) personnel shall be on alert for possible relief operations.
He added that every time there is a flooding, the Philippine Navy, DPWH, MMDA, Navotas Fire and Rescue Volunteers, PNP Navotas and volunteers help one another to make sure that all affected people are taken to safer grounds.
The Philippine Navy and DPWH provided trucks while the MMDA does declogging and dredging of creeks and canals, especially in flood-prone areas.
Navotas presently maintains 39 locally funded pumping stations.
Militar said that his team continues to provide information in every barangay as they continually urge residents to be proactive in times of inclement weather.
In Valenzuela, Arnold Antonio, officer-in-charge of CDRRM, said the city budget for this year is Php101 million.
Antonio said the city government availed three units of amphibians which is subject for delivery this August and two mobile water purifiers which are to be delivered next month.
He said the mobile water purifier will be a big help for residents especially if water supply is cut off during calamities.
He added the part of the budget for this year will be used in the construction of the so-called ALERT building which stands for Allied, Local, Evacuation and Emergency, Response and Team — the central command center for disaster management. Construction is set to start next year.
Antonio said Valenzuela has 33 barangays and 25 of these are prone to flooding.
He also said that the city has 93 evacuation centers which can accommodate 100 to 1,000 families depending on the respective size of each evacuation center.
Like Malabon, Valenzuela is also a catch basin of excess water from Obando and Maycauayan in Bulacan.
With the ongoing Valenzuela-Obando-Meycauayan (VOM) megadike project, flooding in some barangays in Valenzuela and in Meycauayan and Obando during the rainy season and high tide are expected to be solved.
Antonio said the MMDA is active in barangays cleanup of creeks and canals but the city government also has dedicated team for cleanups.
Antonio said that they have also created “Bantay Ilog” teams to go after those who throw thrash, or dispose chemicals into the river system.
He added the city maintains a 43-man rescue team trained in medical response and rescue.
With the CAMANAVA LGUs stepping up their respective disaster risk reduction efforts this time of the year, disaster preparedness must not only be a sustained effort of the government but also of residents whose cooperation is vital for these measures to mitigate the adverse effects of calamities.