Deepening civic response in crisis, The Morning After, Part 2

By Jess Lorenzo

Posted at Aug 11 2012 02:11 PM | Updated as of Aug 11 2012 10:27 PM

There is this song by Maureen McGovern that came back to me while the torrential rains fell. It is entitled, THE MORNING AFTER and it is the theme song of the movie Poseidon Adventure. It goes something like this:

There's got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let's keep on lookin' for the light.

The song was played over and over again in my head and I felt it was Ondoy all over again.

We were anxiously reading the news torrent in facebook and twitter as the water went up. As we did, the stories of Ondoy came back like a deluge. It wasn’t long that we realized that the flooding was the same - if not, worse.

Ondoy, 2009 8/07
455mm of rain in 24hrs 472 in 22hrs, 687 in 48hrs
80% of Manila flooded 80-90% of Manila flooded
375,890 persons evacuated in centers 362,307 evacuated in 729 centers, 600,000 in neighbors and relatives
4.9million affected based on SWS post survey 2.44million affected based on initial assessment
337 deaths 60 deaths

During the storm, there were facebook friends and some people from Nueva Ecija were texting. They were emailing me, asking help to coordinate rescue and relief to their families and loved ones in Marikina and Quezon City.

Abe Cordero, had a friend in Provident Village who was hungry and was in fear due to the rising waters. Another friend, Jing Avez, was worried because he lost contact with his parents and uncle who also lived in Provident. At the same time, another facebook friend, Von Ryan Rondilla was asking for relief for some 125 families in Payatas.

When I called Marikina rescue, there response was surprisingly fast. They were confident and systematic in the way they took the information. I relayed the address of Abe’s friend and they reassuringly said they will check up on him and added they stationed a rescue team at the entrance of the village. Jing Avez’s relatives were ok and did not need any rescue. Von Ryan’s need was quickly addressed by Ateneo’s Dream Team by coordinating the local parish.

During the Ondoy, 2009. I remember my brother texting, asking to be rescued. There were none that came. By the next day, we waded thru the floods of Cainta as helicopters hovered aimlessly above us. There was no felt government response. As this was happening, former president Gloria Arroyo went to Pampanga to pledge P5.5 million pesos just to say she gave. It was pathetic.

In this 8/07 deluge, Facebook and Twitter was buzzing with information. Water levels were being relayed hour by hour. PAGASA and Project NOAH provided timely information that kept us ready. There were many organizations that responded.

PAGASA’s warnings were great. Newly-installed-long-over-due doppler radars provided color coordinated warnings of how much rain would be dumped by the typhoons. In 2009, PAGASA disclosed that they have been waiting for these radars for more than 5 years. The government kept it at a low priority which diminished PAGASA’s weather forecasting capacity.

At the same time, the new sensors of Department of Science and Technology went online. Project NOAH warned us of the impeding disaster by providing us the timely information of rising waters. NOAH stands for Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards. It is something new in this storm that provided us with accurate information of how the water rose every hour. This was something we did not have during the 2009 Ondoy deluge.

I did not hear much blaming this time because of a good government preparedness and response. And, I think all of us understand that the problem is bigger than the government can attend to. So many organizations put up relief efforts. Accurate information enabled government and various civic groups to work together.

In a short amount of time, PNoy’s efforts towards ‘daang matuwid’ is already paying-off. It shows that governance done right immediately brings benefits to the people and increases trust.

There is still much more to go in addressing the flooding problem in Metro Manila. The problem is complex because the drainage system, the planning, the zoning, and even the garbage collection has something to do with it. But for now the remedial measures seem to be greater coordination between civic groups and the government in order to keep on strengthening the responses. Better coordination needs better communication and information flow. As the rescue and relief responses are strengthened, government can continue to slowly address and mitigate the problems to improve our situation. But this won’t be overnight.

As I remember the song again I realized that in order for us to get thru this crisis, our leaders need to sustain the good governance efforts they are making to address the complex problem of the flooding.

There's got to be a morning after
We're moving closer to the shore
I know we'll be there by tomorrow
And we'll escape the darkness
We won't be searchin' any more.

Let’s put our hands out in time

If you wish to read my previous article on Ondoy, you can view it at:
The article is entitled: The Morning After (Ondoy)

One clarification for my previous article: RH Bill, Are you for or Against?

I’ve received a request to clarify Kaya Natin’s partnership with SINAG movement in Quezon City. SINAG is a movement established by parishioners of Sta. Maria del Strada. Kaya Natin’s partnership is with the movement and not with the parish. Sta. Maria dela Strada Parish is Anti-RH Bill.

SINAG’s program with Kaya Natin and MSD does not promote contraception or the RH Bill but addresses Maternal Health Issues in the community.

Comments are welcome at [email protected] or private message through Facebook. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @jesslorenzo for stories of good governance.

Jess Lorenzo is currently the program director of Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership's public health initiatives. @kayanatin on Twitter

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.