White elephant

WRECKORDER - FGS Gujilde (The Freeman) - November 19, 2020 - 12:00am

Mothers are forgiving. But not mother nature who is vindictive. Hurt her and she is not content with getting even, she gets more a thousand fold. She does not discriminate. But the poor, who have no business interest to damage her environs, are situated most vulnerable to her wrath. The law of nature is not fair.

While no one can stop her, we can at least prepare for the worst, including a safe refuge especially for the poor. For when a storm leaves, it also leaves behind bigger problems of safety and rehabilitation, otherwise known as temporary shelter, a homey term for subhuman evacuation centers. 

Building them is not the real solution but a mere response to a calamity. I leave it to authorities and experts to discuss about climate change, environmental policy, political will and other factors that define disaster preparedness. But a safe refuge eases the pain of even the numb. Never mind the dumb. If they cannot tell abuse, neither can they feel the pain it brings.

It is time we update our sports stadiums to cope with climate change. While tennis is an outdoor sport, the majors are constrained to shelter their center court with retractable roof. Otherwise, the unpredictable weather messes up with its schedule. Wimbledome did it first to dodge notorious heavy rains. Conversely, heat index forced the tournament down under to follow. Flushing Meadows took the cue and this year Roland Garros sheltered its red clay dry.

 It is not enough that we update existing sports facilities. We should build more. If each city or municipality or at least a district had a track oval built on higher ground with retractable roof, it accommodates significant number of evacuees to safety. I leave it to the engineers to ensure structural integrity and convenience. But it is doable.

 It may not suffice to shelter the most vulnerable, but at least we maximize a sports facility criticized for being useless and costly to maintain during off-season. Athlete’s village is normally built within vicinity of a sports stadium for easy access and convenience. It can be transformed into a quarantine facility that we so lack for especially in the time of corona.

Things we can never say against school buildings, the constant urgent need to accommodate rising number of students every year. They may not be used for classes during lockdown, but they can be converted to quarantine facility. If space and site are scarce, go vertical with multiple-level school buildings. It may raise safety issues especially for the restless kids but then again, I leave it to the engineers who know better.

But while multi-level school buildings are from storm and flood our refuge, during earthquake they could scourge, especially if built subpar to save for thievery. It looks like there is nowhere to go when disaster strikes, natural or man-made, except unzip a smile in the face of death. Forbearance.

Sorry for deviating to the underlying issue. But while these sports facilities slash evacuation centers are ambitious and costly, they protect and save life of the needy during public emergency. Corruption costs way more. It feeds nothing but lifestyle of the greedy. Worse, it starves the hungry, especially during calamity.

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