‘NOAH’ coming to warn of floods

Original post from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/204513/noah-coming-to-warn-of-floods

By Kristine L. Alave

Filipinos will soon receive warnings of an impending deluge from a 21st-century digital “Noah.”
The government and the private sector are teaming up for Project Noah, a program to install rain gauges and flood monitoring and warning systems in the country’s major river systems.

In a speech read for him at the 1st Philippine International River Summit on Thursday, Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan, said the PLDT Group’s Smart Communications and Sun Cellular will help the government’s P1.7-billion project to make communities resilient to typhoons.

Government officials and private sector participants told the summit that the Philippines, which suffers an average 20 storms a year, badly needed to manage river systems and install a better alert system for floods to prevent the loss of lives and property.

Senator Franklin Drilon, who is spearheading the clean-up of the Iloilo River, said the country loses millions of pesos and suffers unnecessary deaths from floods and overflowing rivers and waterways. A river that is not managed effectively “poses a threat to humanity,” he said.

As part of its assistance, the PLDT Group has allowed the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to install automatic rain gauges (ARGs) in 600 cell sites of Smart and Sun all over the country over two years, said Pangilinan. PLDT installed 63 rain gauges for the country’s weather bureau last year.

Like the biblical patriarch for which it was named, Project Noah will warn communities of impending flooding in their communities in the event of continuous rains.

“Project Noah combined with other new technologies like the Doppler radar, will finally bring the country’s disaster preparedness systems into the 21st century. Even before floods strike, we can know to an unprecedented level of detail how such calamities will impact on our cities and towns,” Pangilinan said in the speech read for him by Michael Toledo, Philex Mining Corp. vice president for corporate affairs.

Smart and Sun have a total of around 8,000 to 10,000 cell sites nationwide. Apart from rain gauges, Project Noah will also install 400 river sensors near riverbanks, which will record water levels, information that is crucial during rainy days. The wet season, which starts in June and lasts until November, is upon the country.

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