ABS-CBN News

Project NOAH to revise tack after Pablo disaster

Posted at | Updated as of 12/14/12 1:33 AM

MANILA - Many residents of areas affected by typhoon Pablo answered the calls of their local government to evacuate.

The problem was, when they did, they placed themselves in greater danger.

The lack of solid information by local officials is said to be the reason why so many died during the typhoon.

The UP National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) is now developing a program where it can determine specific barangays that are more at risk during calamities.

According to Project NOAH's head Dr. Mahar Lagmay, they found out that it was useless providing information on a regional scale, since people can't seem to grasp the intensity of the storms and the significance of their advice.

"Pag sinabi mo buong probinsya ay mag- ingat sa landslide at mag-ingat sa baha, ay wala talagang ibig sabihin talaga iyon," he said.

Lagmay said zeroing in on affected barangays will spur more action from the local government.

"Kapag binaba mo sa barangay level, sila ang makakapagbigay ng aksyon," he explained.  "Pagdaan ng Pablo, di sapat na sasabihin natin, 'sa Compostella Valley, Cagayan de Oro magkakaroon ng baha. Kailangan sabihin natin kung anong mismong barangay ang hindi nila pwedeng puntaha."

"Pwede rin itong gamitin para sa long-term planning, para malaman nila ang kanilang barangay ay nasa panganib," he added.

So far, the NIGS has been able to identify 188 barangays using computer simulations and available maps of previous floods.

It is hoping to finish determining disaster-prone barangays in two months time.

"Ang Project NOAH ay hanggang 2013 ng December pero hindi na tayo makakapag hintay. Ayaw na po namin na magkaroon pa ng pagkamatay dala ng mga bagyo," Lagmay said.

"Maganda ang ating warning systems--gaano kalakas ang bagyo at hangin--pero di natin alam kung paano sabihin sa mga tao: saan ba dapat i-evacuate at saan tayo pwede pumusisyon ng tama."

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) said local governments must face and learn from the bitter lessons left by typhoon Pablo.

"They have to make sure that the evacuation center ay resilient, typhoon-resistant," Ramos said.

The NDRRMC chief stressed that  political will is important if local government units wish to save more lives in the next typhoons to come.