Project NOAH brings disaster information and education campaign to Davao Region

Written by: Candeze R. Mongaya

The distant trauma of Typhoon Pablo is still a vivid memory for 30-year-old high school teacher Erle Notarte.

A science teacher in Bernardo D. Carpio National High School Davao City, Notarte said that Typhoon Pablo caused heavy infrastructural damage in their school when it hit Davao Oriental last December 2012. He recalled the despair of his students, as they helplessly watched their houses being eaten away by the flood.

“It’s important for students to know about disasters so they will be empowered. If they are informed, they can properly respond. I will definitely bring Project NOAH in our school,” Notarte said, during the information, education, and communication seminar of the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards (NOAH) in Davao City last May 23.

Local stakeholders in Davao Region were urged to utilize disaster-science technology and information to maximize their response against hazard mitigation, especially in disaster-prone areas.

Around 200 local representatives from disaster risk-reduction offices, local government units, government agencies, academe, and the media in Davao Oriental who are involved in disaster response and mitigation, also underwent seminar on how to properly use and interpret weather and rainfall data from Project NOAH.

“Awareness is the first step towards disaster preparedness,” Dr. Alfredo Mahar Lagmay, Project NOAH Executive Director, told the participants in the IEC.

With the trauma brought about by casualties of Typhoon Pablo and Sendong in Davao Region, Lagmay said that Project NOAH seeks to provide a six-hour lead time warning against impending natural disasters.

“If we use the right science and cutting edge technology, we can achieve our goals,” Lagmay said.

Project NOAH is a research and development initiative launched by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) last July 2012, to put in place a responsive mechanism that will empower the Filipinos in hazard mitigation and disaster preparedness.

By providing accurate, timely, and understandable data through the website and the Project NOAH mobile applications, early warning system and response mechanisms can be conveniently accessed by the public in times of disaster.

Lagmay recalled the success of using Project NOAH during Typhoon Pablo, where the sudden rise on the rainfall volume and water level in Bubunawan Bridge, Bukidnon was projected in the website. With awareness on how to use Project NOAH, the local communities were forewarned and they were able to evacuate in time.

Meanwhile, the Advanced Science and Technology (ASTI), who is in-charge of the sensor deployment under the Hydro-Met Sensors Development Project component of NOAH is currently installing around 600 Automatic Rain Gauges and 400 Water Level Monitoring Sensors in the 18 major river basins nationwide.

Shanta Laura Velasquez, ASTI Project Development Officer, said that they will complete the installation of sensors before July.

The participants were also oriented on the proper utilization of Project NOAH technologies including the website and mobile application and how weather and other disaster-related information are gathered and made accessible for the public.

Meanwhile, Notarte believed that Typhoon Pablo happened so Davaoeῆos would realize the importance of disaster preparedness and hazard mitigation, especially in the community level.

“It was traumatic, but we have to move on and find ways to prevent it from happening again,” Notarte said.

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