Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Aftermath...Earthquakes, Tornados and now Super Typhoon...

One thing is for sure, we will make it to the top ten list of countries that are most vulnerable to natural calamities next year. Earthquakes, Tornados, Thurderstorms and Super Typhoons which have claimed many lives have rocked the country the whole year round and that will definitely put us on that list. It is as if there is no end to these devastating events. One can only sometimes make conclusions that maybe it is no longer a safe place to live. But is that really the case? Would we allow ourselves to eventually become climate refugees or do we seriously start to learn from these experiences and adapt.

Through the centuries, countries like the Philippines have always been a haven for natural disasters. Don't forget our susceptibility to Tsunamis and Volcanic eruptions because of our proximity to the Pacific ring of fire. There are just so many natural conditions that puts as always at risk.

But come to think of it countries like the United States, the Islands in Caribbean, Taiwan, China and even in Europe, they are also susceptible to natural calamities. The question then is on how we deal which such calamities.

If only we try hard to implement the hundreds of laws we have created on environment and safety, we would be able to minimize the risk of lost to property and lives. I always believe in one thing, "never challenge the obvious".

I've been to Tacloban City several times and the only thing I can remember was water surrounded the commercial district of Tacloban. Every time I look out the window of the hotel, the sea was almost at every angle. It was a potential disaster waiting to happen. The low lying areas were just perfect conditions for disaster.

Under the law, no structures can be built within twenty meters from the edge of the sea. Unfortunately, everywhere you look, in any inhabitable place in the Philippines, this is not being followed. Same for the three meter legal easement and twenty meter buffer zone of rivers. So what do you think would happen if there is a storm or when there's heavy rains? Water will come running right into those structures and destroy everything in its path.

My grandfather used to tell me that water has its natural ways so he always never builds his hut were water used to pass. He said, "it may be dry now but when the rain comes water will pass through there, so don't expect you wouldn't be washed away." I guess he was right.

If only we can implement these laws more strictly, we would drastically minimize our loses and would be allowed to continue to live in these allowable spaces. In my opinion, the country is not too small for all of us. We still have a lot of open spaces. It its time government should look seriously into geo-hazard maps and start identify areas which has minimal susceptibility to these types of natural calamities and if ever areas are susceptible, then start implementing stricter rules on building codes and safety requirements. The vulnerability Index is a grim reminder that we live in volatile environment and that we should learn to adapt and learn from the lessons of the past.