Typhoon aftermath

PERSPECTIVE - Cherry Piquero-Ballescas - The Freeman

The mayor of one typhoon-affected city in Luzon promised that garbage will be collected by November 30. Floods brought several mounds of dirty, smelly unwanted garbage in various parts of this particular community.

Residents had no choice but to navigate their way to avoid these mounds of garbage that piled up in front of their houses. Many residents have reported getting sick of diarrhea and foot sores. Can they even sleep with the stench of the garbage? Can they wait until the promised collection day?

Meanwhile, before November 30, cannot the city government or barangay hire labor from the community to appropriately manage and segregate mabulok versus di mabulok garbage, transfer these elsewhere in the community away from residents?

Aside from problematic stinky, dirty garbage mounds, other affected communities continue to wade through floodwaters that have not abated or through mud.

Typhoons also leave a lot of debris behind such as furniture, parts of houses built with substandard materials, paper, bottles, broken glass, others and of course, plastic all over.

After typhoons, still so much to be done!

Rebuilding of homes and communities, restoration of life for individuals and families. Recovery of provinces and regions.

Can typhoon victims cope? Can government respond quickly, systematically and adequately to competing demands for basic/essential needs and services, including counseling?

Will no victims be left behind? Will everyone be effectively reached by public and private rescue, relief, support, and assistance networks?

Many victims complain and cry that no ayuda has reached them until now. Roads and bridges have been damaged by typhoons. Rescue is hampered or is unavailable because of accessibility problems. Has national government identified these far-flung, inaccessible areas?

Do national and local governments have clear, comprehensive, and coordinated plans of action for relief, rescue and restoration in place by now? Actually, these plans and preparations should have been anticipated, completed, and operational long before the recent calamities!

Partisan, political patronage is often cited in the aftermath of typhoons and other disasters. Can there be a clear alternative to this so that all, especially the genuinely needy, are adequately cared for by rescue, relief, and restoration networks?

Having an updated community database mainstreamed in every locality will definitely help. That database should include the names and other important information of every household member such as age, gender, education, employment, skills --if with, what kind of sickness or disability, if receiving support from household members abroad or outside their present address, etc.

Such individual and household information can guide what specific and appropriate relief, rescue, and restoration package and effort are needed per household/community.

Such valuable information can improve or better supplement the present type of post-disaster reporting often operationalized only in terms of cost of damages. Future report can provide more detailed, correct information about who, how many were affected, where.

Also, are there clear protocols about distribution of relief goods and services? Are victims properly briefed (long before any disaster) about what to do, where to go for what type of service and what may be needed for them to show if personal identification and verification are required?

Are communities trained to have their own disaster management system and protocols, complete with essential amenities and definite organization with people assigned to specific tasks?

Are there also clear protocols, organization, and systematic management of resources and people for external disaster response teams?

Are evacuation sites and centers ready long before any disaster? Fully equipped disaster ready gymnasiums are suggested per locality as evacuation centers. During ordinary times, these gyms can boost health and sports development.

Oh, if only all these disaster management and response preparations were done long before!

Still, best to do what must be done soonest.


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