While evacuation during typhoons is just a last resort for many, the City Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) is urging residents of flood-prone areas to head to evacuation centers as early as possible than wait until the flood has risen to an untenable level.
Previous rescue and relief operations have revealed that most residents refuse to leave home despite prompts from authorities. CSWDO Officer-in-Charge, Dorothy G. Evangelista recounted a rescue operation in Barangay Gen. T. De Leon during Typhoon Gener where the rescue team told residents to evacuate as early as 7 p.m. but the residents chose to remain in their homes – only to call for rescue later at 11 p.m., when the flood had reached roof top level.
Evangelista, during the Community Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Orientation for Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) beneficiaries from Pinalagad in Barangay Malinta at the City External Services Office last Saturday, July 6, beseeched participants from doing the same. “Paano namin kayo maililigtas ng sabay-sabay kung baha na sa maraming lugar sa Valenzuela? (How could we save all of you if most part of the city is already flooded?)” she said.
Evangelista also told the 177 4Ps beneficiaries, who were mostly middle-aged mothers, that those who would stay at evacuation centers would be the first to receive relief goods. Evacuation centers would also have social workers and doctors who would look after the evacuees’ needs.
There are 99 buildings in the city that serve as official evacuation centers during disasters, most of them are public schools. The number of evacuees accommodated at 60 evacuation centers due to typhoon Gener and habagat (torrential monsoon rains) in 2012 reached the highest at 21,943.
In exchange of their stay, evacuees should maintain the upkeep of evacuation centers, said CSWDO focal person for 4Ps Arian Grace Jovena, who spoke about evacuation center management.
Jovena reminded orientation participants that evacuees should keep evacuation centers clean and refrain from vandalizing facilities and pilfering items. The CSWDO has received reports of evacuation centers with missing electric fans and doorknobs after the evacuees had left.
Evangelista and Jovena were joined by Valenzuela Rescue Team Training Officer Roy Calingacion and Training Staff Norberto Torres, and City Health Office Health Emergency Medical Services Coordinator, Dr. Kaier Camlian who gave lectures on disaster preparedness and public health emergencies.
The orientation is a family development seminar (FDS) that 4P beneficiaries are required to attend as a condition of the program.
District 1 Representative, Cong. Sherwin T. Gatchalian said such seminars which are regularly held among various sectors and in different communities are valuable because it persuades people that disaster preparedness is not the sole responsibility of government officials but of the whole community.
“Huwag nating asahan si Kapitan, huwag nating asahan si Mayor. Ang paghahanda ay dapat magsimula sa mga sarili natin. (We should not leave with the barangay captain or the mayor alone the responsibility in preparing us for disasters. Preparedness should start among ourselves.)” Congressman WIN emphasized.