Phivolcs urges families to make earthquake plans
Mike Frialde (The Philippine Star) - February 25, 2015 - 6:13pm

MANILA, Philippines — Communities could benefit from the evacuation plans and drills designed for public and private schools by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) through the help of students.

Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum told reporters on Wednesday's Preparatory Meeting for Resilience Conference on Earthquakes in Makati City that teachers could ask their students—as a form of an assignment—to come up with an earthquake evacuation plan for their homes.

"When I ask people if they have an earthquake evacuation plan at home, most would say na wala sila," said Solidum who served as a resource speaker for the forum sponsored by the Carlos P. Romulo Foundation for Peace and Development.

"Ito ang suggestion ko. Ang mga eskwelahan, publiko o pribado, mahilig namang magbigay ng assignment sa mga bata. Bakit 'di magbigay ng assignment na gumawa ang pamilya n'yo ng earthquake evacuation plan?" he added.

He said parents can guide their children in drawing the outline of their homes and trace an evacuation route based on plans from the barangay in cases of emergency.

"Sa tingin ko, kung gagawin natin ito, mapapabilis natin ang community preparedness. Maganda ito at simple lang," he added.

According to Solidum, Phivolcs has already developed and distributed earthquake evacuation plan modules to the various schools.

"Babaguhin mo lang yung eskwelahan into a family. Ang teacher na magtuturo ay concerned din sa kanyang sariling pamilya," he said.

Solidum said using schools to promote awareness on the need to have earthquake evacuation plans for the home was an idea hatched in Armenia that was hit by a magnitude 6.8 earthquake on December 7, 1988.

"Nakita ko to sa Armenia. May project dun ang isang school principal na earthquake evacuation plan for the family facilitated by the students," he said.

Meanwhile, Solidum also called for the retrofitting of houses and buildings in Metro Manila to make them earthquake resilient.

Big earthquake anticipated

According to a study made by Phivolcs and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Metro Manila is due for a magnitude 7.2 earthquake possibly generated by the West Valley Fault System.

Phivolcs said the last time the Valley Fault System moved was in 1658. Phivolcs added that as the average interval of the system's movement is from 400 to 600 years, there is a greater probability of an earthquake affecting us in our lifetime.

ALSO READ: 7.2 earthquake may isolate Metro Manila – Phivolcs

A 7.2-magnitude earthquake affecting Metro Manila and at least five towns in Rizal province could leave 37,000 people dead and P2.5 trillion in estimated economic losses.  The massive quake can also leave 140,000 people seriously injured and 11 million square meters in total land area severely damaged.

"If the earthquake is in Metro Manila and the source if the valley fault, there is no warning. You would feel the shaking immediately, the primary wave," Solidum said.

He said the agency has installed sensors around the capital and has been monitoring the West Valley Fault for any ground movement using a global positioning system, or GPS.

"Parang rubber band, 'pag na-stretch mo ang rubber band, 'di agad s'ya mapuputol. Nakikita mong ma-stretch until it breaks," he explained.

"Ganun din sa lupa. Gumagalaw na ang fault pero 'di pa nagtri-trigger ng earthquake. Dapat makakita ka ng pattern. I cannot assure you that there will be a pattern.  But we are monitoring it.  If there is [a pattern] we could say that the fault will rupture," he added.

According to Solidum, low-rise to mid-rise residential houses in Metro Manila are most at-risk should a 7.2 magnitide quake strike.

"We are concerned about houses and buildings ... These are residential homes. Some residential homes are non-engineered. These were built without the supervision of licensed engineers or architects and earthquake science would tell us that if the fault is nearby, the shaking is fast and it would shake the lighter buildings than heavier buildings," he said.

There are houses that are at risk.

Solidum said that should a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit the metropolis, 13 percent of residential houses would be heavily damaged or collapsed as compared to only two percent of high rise buildings.

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