Philippines: Governments credit zero-typhoon casualties in Apayao, Abra to preparation, people’s cooperation

Source(s): Philippine Information Agency

By Redjie Melvic Cawis

Cooperation and management of people were the key in ensuring that every life was saved in the provinces of Apayao and Abra when Typhoon Ompong lashed Northern Luzon last week.

Despite the raising of Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal Number 4 by PAGASA in the provinces of Apayao, Abra and Kalinga on Sept. 15, Apayao and Abra recorded zero casualties.

Apayao Gov. Elias Bulut Jr. and Abra Gov. Maria Jocelyn Bernos said that the preparation by the local government units and cooperation of the people in their respective provinces ensured that every individual was safe when the strong typhoon hit their areas.

Bulut said that upon getting the information that a super typhoon was threatening North Luzon, he immediately met with the Apayao Provincial Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council and the members from the different line agencies and the Municipal DRRMCs to ensure that every aspect of disaster preparation would be undertaken.

Bulut said they made sure that preparations were done from the provincial level down to the municipalities and the barangays through their respective DRRM councils.

A massive pre-emptive evacuation was also done in the low lying municipalities of Luna, Pudtol, Flora and Santa Marcela which are frequently flooded areas.

“We ordered all barangay captains to make sure that every family is within the evacuation centers or houses to ensure their safety to prevent possible injury and casualties,” Bulut said.

The governor added that one factor that made Apayao safer was the presence of large forest cover, noting lesser landslide incidents in the province.

In Abra, Bernos said the compliance of the people to the call for pre-emptive evacuation was a factor in attaining zero casualties during Typhoon Ompong.

Bernos said that people were cooperative as they heeded the call of the local government units particularly for those in low lying and flood-prone affected areas near the Abra River.

“The cooperation of every individual and the communication down to the barangay level is very important during time of calamity,” Bernos said.

To ensure that everybody would be prepared and safe, she suspended classes and work before the forecasted time that ‘Ompong’ would make its landfall.

During the typhoon, rescuers and responders were on standby while barangay officials also made sure that their constituents are safe.

According to the DSWD-CAR, as of Sept 20, at least 7,171 families or 27,335 individuals were affected in Apayao and 17,306 families or 70,457 individuals in the province of Abra. For the damaged houses, Apayao recorded 2,053 partially and 14 totally damaged houses while Abra had 6, 144 partially and 230 totally damaged houses.

The Provincial DRRM Councils of both provinces together with some representatives from the different line agencies as well as from the central office are presently conducting assessment on the extent of damages which shall be the basis for rehabilitation efforts.

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