Saturday, September 25, 2010

Ondoy: Remembering the tragedy

It has been one year since the tragedy called Ondoy struck Manila. And it is typhoon season once again. Should we be bracing for another disaster?

Remembering Ondoy

One of the many horrifying photos from last year's Ondoy devastation.

We were fortunate to be one of the residents of Pasig City whose house was not ravaged by last year's tropical storm Ondoy, but our neighbors, friends and families were - some had vehicles completely submerged in flood water, others had their houses flooded so quickly there was no time to salvage anything.  I recounted my personal experience with Ondoy in this blog post I published last year -Trauma in Ondoy's wake...

While writing that post, and reading the stories of others, I realized it helped me cope with the emotions surrounding the tragedy and encouraged my readers to tell their own stories as well. I compiled the Ondoy Stories I was able to gather in the hope that it will help our nation heal itself.

"We are ready." - NDRRMC. Are we really?

Recently, I've read in the news that National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) officials are saying we are ready for another Ondoy - but I am skeptical that we indeed are.  While we have beefed up rescue equipment and training, it would have been also good to educate our soldiers on disaster management, strategy and people coordination during an incident. It would have been even better if we did something to prevent a flash flood from occurring at all.

I shared my thoughts on how to improve our rescue and relief operations in the aftermath of the Ondoy tragedy based on my personal observations at the incident site, and am really hoping we have not overlooked these aspects of our disaster management and coordination.

Prepare yourself and your family for disaster

I encourage you now to make assessments and adjustments early, do not wait until it is too late, prepare for Ondoy 2 today. Here are some of my suggestions for you:

  1. Gather your family to talk about the plan - include everyone including the oldest and the youngest members of the family.
  2. Make a plan - what is the escape route in case something happens? Make it simple and easy. If you can, try it out once.
  3. In case someone in the family gets lost, name someone - a relative, a friend - in a different part of the city or country who you will all go to or inform of your whereabouts. This will be important if say the telephone and cellphone lines were all cut. There should be a place where you agree you should meet up or a person you will all inform you are safe.
  4. Do this NOW - list all emergency numbers and put them somewhere visible near the telephone.
  5. Know where your important documents are so that they will be easy to salvage in case of a flash flood.
  6. It is good to keep extra food, candles, flashlights, batteries, etc. If you can afford it, buy some inflatable floaters or lifevests.

Preparing for the worst and Hoping for the best - Stay safe everyone.

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  1. Put important documents into a waterproof container.
    Make sure that you have plenty of water; you can live for weeks without food, but only days at best without clean water. You should have one gallon per person per day, and it's best to have at least 72 hours' worth of supplies on hand.
    Food should not depend on electricity for heating or cooling. Pop-Tarts are good. Canned meats (make sure you have a MANUAL can opener on hand), MREs, and other foods that are ready to eat and nutritious are good.
    Make sure you have all important medications in an easy to get to location, in their original containers (if prescription meds, this is important), in a waterproof container that's easy to grab if you have to evacuate.
    A little propane camp stove was also helpful for us after Hurricane Ike.
    You may need extra water for flushing toilets, cooking (if you have gas or a gas grill), etc. - you can fill a bathtub or other containers and use that, instead of your bottled drinking water.

  2. That's what friends are for, Rey. And to pray with you that there's nothing that noteworthy to "talk out" this year.