Wednesday, September 13, 2017

When Disasters Strike

by Evans Yonson (Philippines)

I come from a country where natural beauty is everywhere. We take pride in our natural resources - land, sea, air and the beautiful smiles of the Filipino people. We always find something to smile about. Because it's more fun in the Philippines.  

But, our country also has its share of disasters - natural and man-made calamities. Earthquake. Typhoons. Floods. Landslides. Famine. Forest fires. The latest devastation that hit the Philippines was Typhoon Haiyan leaving 6,300 dead and billions of dollars damaged to properties.

Government planners and scientists agree that such numbers could have been if people have been educated and informed about the coming of the disasters.

In 2011, my siblings and their families survived a catastrophic flash flood brought by Typhoon Washi. They lost everything. They have been informed two days before to take evacuate their abodes and seek higher grounds but never really bothered to heed the government's call. More than 2,500 died in this disaster.

These disasters could have been if these citizens have only been informed and educated about all things disaster, risk reduction, and preparations. 

When I went to my university in 2013, I immediately volunteered to our Disaster Risk and Reduction and Management Council and to help them out in their information, education and communication campaign for Cagayan de Oro City. I was mainly involved in education and awareness raising.

On July 10th, an hour after my last SUSI2017 class at Scripps College of Communication over at Schoonover Center and outside my bedroom window, the skies went from blue to very dark gray in a matter of minutes. My colleagues were off to Kroger to shop for food stuff.

I received these Emergency Alerts below. First, the flash flood warning. Then, came two disturbing messages - tornado warnings.
I received these messages before
everything else happened.

The tornado came and went. Zero casualty.

My co-scholars came home and told me their tornado stories. 

If only the Philippines, our government and the Filipino race, have all these warnings and attitudes towards disasters then we would have saved thousands of lives and millions of dollars.

Then, it will be a more fun in the Philippines.

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