Why 'Yolanda' should be benchmark for disaster preparedness


Posted at Nov 20 2013 03:18 PM | Updated as of Nov 20 2013 11:18 PM


MANILA - A disaster risk reduction expert believes many things could have been done in the wake of the megadisaster that was super typhoon "Yolanda."

Speaking to [email protected], Dr. Marqueza Reyes said while disaster agencies gave advance warning, fewer lives could have been lost had there been better communication particularly regarding the threat posed by a storm surge.

"For us, the hazard itself with 320 kph wind speed is a megahazard and the resulting consequences as what we have and the scale of magnitude of disaster tends to overwhelm any institution," she said.

"We can illustrate or send drawing, video of actual storm surge so people know the impacts it will bring. erhaps we need a fail safe system. Maybe local authorities could have a command and control center located outside affected areas," she added.

Reyes, a former consultant of the Office of Civil Defense and former advisor of the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction for ASEAN Countries, said while damage and loss cannot be avoided they can be controlled.

She added Typhoon Yolanda should now be the benchmark for disaster preparedness.

"One lesson is we cannot rely on external help. We have to rely on ourselves. We all could have done better. Government did its best and is still trying to reach all isolated areas but preparedness for an incoming hazard is not just responsibility of government. Family preparedness should be organized by government and NGOs. You benchmark it on Haiyan, pack an emergency bag for 5 days," she said.

Reyes said government and various agencies should now initiate post disaster assessment and planning for typhoon recovery and rehabilitation.

She said disasters have come and gone and communities rise again but better coordination is needed to avoid making the same mistakes.