Sunday, September 27, 2009


We often have trouble imagining the worst scenario until the terrible event occurs. Only then can we evaluate our emergency response preparations. We cannot predict the exact type of disaster that will occur in the future and the specific problems it will create, but we can develop general principles and guidance for better emergency response.

73 killed, 23 others missing as storm Ondoy whips the Republic of the Philippines. The number of affected families across Luzon has swelled to 69,513 (about 337,216 people). The partial total number of evacuees has also reached 11,967 families (about 59,920 people) who are staying in 118 evacuation centers, National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) data showed.

A good planning principle is to “hope for the best but prepare for the worst.” Planners can use this recent disaster brought by storm Ondoy to improve the quality of services the government can provide under emergency conditions and avoid repeating past mistakes.

Every disaster presents a unique combination of problems. Ondoy disaster, that recently pummeled Metro Manila through flooding, and thousands of people isolated for days without water, food or medical care, can be our greatest lesson.

This analysis is not intended to fault individuals. Rather, it is intended to honestly examine planning failures. We can assume that nearly everybody involved in emergency response sincerely wants to do their best; after all, they and their loved ones may also require emergency services. Many emergency responders make significant personal sacrifices. If we are to make any judgments, it would be against anybody who hides, denies or understates mistakes and so prevents society from learning to avoid such errors in the future.

My Blog space attempts to identify ways to better allow government agencies to help people in National Emergencies since this is the primary job of the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC). Various long-term planning errors contributed to the `Ondoy’ disaster: the concentration of Poverty in the Philippines makes the surrounding neighborhoods vulnerable to flooding, The Philippine government may have focused excessively on politics at the expense of natural risks. This is an important issue to explore, and where appropriate, correct. Why does it always take a serious crisis to wake this country to flood disaster that are visible even to bats? It follows a predictable path and provides considerable warning.

The Philippines have no well-established automatic response plans during the evacuation periods. The emergency response of the government agencies are always delayed as ever, extensive emergency response and relief was not immediately provided but only after more than THIRTY HOURS at daybreak on September 27, 2009 from the time the alarm was sounded at 11:00 o’clock in the morning of September 25, 2009, Philippine time. Actual deaths were a fraction of what could have occurred had it not been the Filipino people themselves lending a helping hand to each other and one after another.

As we sit in our home that is not threatened, enjoy our meals with our families and be able to tuck our children into their safe bed at night, we need to stop and think of those hundreds of thousands of people that are notable to do this and may not be able to for months to come. These people can not even get access to the basic necessities in order to survive. This true desperation we are seeing is what will spur us into action to help those that are in need. How can we see those pictures, stories and videos of our fellow Filipinos suffering and not take action?

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