Bontoc conducts first river flood drill

BONTOC, Mountain Province – People residing near the Chico River in Barangays Samoki and Poblacion of this capital town are now more aware of what to do in an event of flooding in their areas.

This, with the conduct of the first flood evacuation drill in the identified barangays on July 11,2018 initiated by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)- Regional and Provincial Offices in partnership with the Provincial Government of Mountain Province and Bontoc Municipal Government through its Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO).

Prior to this, a one –day Information Education and Communication (IEC) Campaign on the Deployment of Early Warning Systems (DEWS) Project and briefing on Flood Drill Activity was conducted by the DOST – Regional and Provincial Offices which was participated in by the members of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), Bontoc MDRRMC, barangay officials in the four central barangays of Bontoc (Barangays Bontoc Ili, Poblacion, Caluttit and Samoki) and  MDRRM Officers of the other municipalities in the province.

The onslaught of Typhoon Lawin causing the Chico River to rise, thereby triggering the Flood Early Warning System (EWS) to alarm was the scenario adopted during the drill.  There were three EWS installed by the DOST near the Chico River at Barangays Samoki, Poblacion and Bontoc Ili in 2017.

Barangays Samoki and Poblacion were placed under warning level 1, then raised to warning level 2. The warning level 2 is the stage in which residents prepared for evacuation. When warning level 3 or the Evacuation Stage was raised, all residents in danger zones were advised to move to the designated evacuation areas.

A total of 57 evacuees in Barangay Samoki were accompanied by the personnel from the Bontoc Municipal Police Station (MPS) and police trainees under the Field Training Program of the Philippine National Police (PNP) to the “pick-up point” and waited for the vehicle to ferry them to the evacuation center. The 44 evacuees in Eyeb, Poblacion were assisted by barangay officials, personnel from Bontoc MPS and the police trainees to the evacuation center.

To complete the simulation, food packs were distributed to the evacuees at the evacuation centers before decampment.

During the assessment, evaluators gave a thumbs up to the barangay officials and those constituents of Poblacion and Samoki for being responsive and cooperative during the drill.

Evaluators assigned at the Eyeb area and Barangay Samoki similarly shared that most of the residents willingly left their chores and actively participated in the flood drill; directions going to the evacuation centers were posted in conspicuous places; orderly flow of registration of evacuees for accurate head count; logistics were in place such as the presence of medical station, Psycho – social processing area, priority lane for senior citizen, pregnant women, children and Person with Disabilities (PWDs); and deployment of all available manpower.

Also, evaluators commended the barangay officials of Poblacion who initiatively knocked from one house to another to remind the residents to prepare for evacuation when the warning alert level 1 was raised to level 2; and the barangay officials of Samoki for being on the scene ready to guide the evacuees.

However, there were also lapses noted by the evaluators such as reluctance of some of the residents living near the Chico River to evacuate; sudden willingness of residents to be evacuated when informed of the relief good to be distributed; proper briefing to the evacuees and the work force; small signages of directions proceeding to the evacuation centers; absence of contingency plan such as additional and/or spacious evacuation center; presence of other priority lane/room such as Breastfeeding room and Couple room; identification of proper agencies at the Operation Center and at the Evacuation Center for easier communication and coordination; comprehensive ,accurate and timely update should be written or posted on the Monitoring Board.

In response, Bontoc MDRRM Officer Johanna L. Padaenacknowledged all the observations and recommendations of the evaluators assuring that this shall be incorporated and put into practice in flood drills and actual flooding, should it be unavoidable.

Padaen elaborated that the flood evacuation drill aims to strengthen the disaster preparedness and resiliency of the river flood –prone areas in the capital town; as well as to test the effectiveness of the municipal local government down to the barangay government’s flood management plans.

She also thanked everyone who volunteered their time, resources and efforts in the conduct of the activity.

In a separate interview, Bontoc Mayor Franklin C. Odsey voiced out that preparedness is the best way to protect people from risk during disasters, but the government should not shoulder this alone. He mentioned that the community should also have responsibility of preparing well.

With this, he solicited the commitment and active participation of the constituents especially those residing near the Chico River whenever there is a flood evacuation drill so that they know where to go and what to do during emergencies such as flooding.

The activity coincided with the observance of the National Disaster Resiliency Month with theme “Katatagan sa Kalamidad ay Makakamtan Kung Sapat ang Kaalaman sa Kahandaan.”

By Alpine L. Killa

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