Aquino eyes disaster roadmap before rainy season (Solar News)

By Ina Andolong

The term “storm surge” used to be no cause for alarm, for many.

But the monster storm Yolanda changed that.

A storm surge’s raw power and destructive force hit home and hit hard.

Amid typhoon Yolanda’s rising death toll, the weather bureau was slammed for supposedly failing to warn the public enough about storm surges, a term that was lost on most people.

The Department of Science and Technology plans to change that.

At Thursday’s Cabinet meeting in Malacañan, Department of Science and Technology Secretary Mario Montejo and Project NOAH Executive Director Mahar Lagmay proposed the issuance of storm surge advisories.

Presidential Communication Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma says the proposed storm surge advisory protocol includes three categories, depending on the height of storm surge expected.

Advisory 1 will indicate a storm surge height of up to two meters. Advisory 2, up to five meters, and Advisory 3, more than five meters.

Coloma says that, once the protocol is approved, a storm surge advisory would be issued 48 hours in advance, adding that storm surge disaster risk reduction efforts aim to reduce coastal areas’ exposure to storm surges by marking ‘no-build’ zones, developing natural barriers, and building man-made barriers to reduce the impact of such hazards.

Project NOAH Chief Information Officer Oscar Lizardo says storm surge advisories would be issued along with the raising of storm warning signals.

DOST hopes to complete storm surge and hazard inundation mapping operations by March.

The adoption of a flood advisory system was also proposed at the Cabinet meeting.

Similar to storm surge advisories, they will be issued according to the level of rainfall to be expected: Flood Advisory or FA No. 1 for up to 129 millimeters of rainfall within the next 24 hours; FA No. 2 for up to 190 mm rainfall; and FA No. 3, up to 240 mm.

President Aquino ordered a Cabinet task group to come up with a Disaster Preparedness and Risk Reduction Roadmap that will be adopted before the rainy season begins in June.

The task group is composed of the secretaries of the Department of National Defense, the Department of the Interior and Local Government, the Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Climate Change Commission.

Coloma said priority areas to be covered by the roadmap include the National Capital Region and other highly populated areas.

He said the plan will also prioritize measures to “restart the economy after a major disaster.”

For his part, Presidential Assistant for Recovery and Rehabilitation Panfilo Lacson reported on private sector entities and corporations that have offered to lead rebuilding efforts in 24 areas within the Yolanda calamity zone.

Coloma says four pilot areas for rehabilitation were identified: Tacloban City, being the hardest-hit area and the economic center of Eastern Visayas and the regional logistical hub; Tanauan, Leyte for its tourism potential and build-back capacity; Guiuan, Eastern Samar, for the high level of private sector interest; and Biliran, for government-led programs.

This article was originally published in Solar News on January 31, 2014.

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