Reiterating the need for the national government to support disaster preparedness programs, Vice President Leni Robredo underscored the need to build proper evacuation centers in communities hardest hit by natural calamities.
Robredo said that there is a need to improve public infrastructures, particularly school buildings, which the government uses as evacuation centers during times of disasters.
She shared the story of a classroom in a school in Brgy. Sabang, Calabanga, Camarines Sur, wherein the roof fell while evacuees were inside. This was after Typhoon Rolly hit the province.
“Planning for disaster resilience is important. There is definitely a need to improve the infrastructure that we build. Our suggestion is to make the school buildings multi-story, with its design resilient to strong winds and heavy rains. This way, we can ensure the safety of residents who seek refuge here, and we do not need to repair after every typhoon,” she said.
The classroom she was referring to was a one-story facility, which is not suited for areas too often hit by typhoons. In contrast, the classrooms built by the Office of the Vice President’s Angat Buhay partner, AGAPP Foundation, in Brgy. Punta Tarawal were not damaged.
Robredo said this was because of the building’s high-rise design and the quality of materials used.
“Again, the important thing is to design these facilities properly, and to ensure its quality,” the vice president added.
Born and raised in typhoon-hit Bicol region, Robredo said that one of the earliest lessons she remembers about her experiences with typhoons is to be prepared.
“Growing up in Bicol, we were taught about the importance of preparation before the typhoons. It may seem “O.A.” for others, but I believe it is better to over-prepare: to have the essentials on-hand and ready for emergencies, to typhoon-proof our houses and repair its weak parts, and to know about the upcoming storm and, more importantly, the plans of the community, particularly in terms of evacuation.”
Part of those preparations is to tie their windows while other households put sacks filled with sands or old rubber tires on their roofs to prevent them from flying when the wind becomes too strong.
Robredo acknowledged that these seemingly simple things are privileges that many people do not have.
“This is why the readiness of the community is important. Barangays and LGUs must ensure that their evacuation plan is in place, and effectively enforced,” she said, further highlighting the importance of “the proactiveness of barangay officials, local government and the national government.”
“The national government must really invest in institutionalizing efforts for disaster preparedness, information dissemination and effective communications, as well as programs that will help us track the strength of weather disturbances, climate trends, and high-risk areas,” Robredo added.