UNISDR champion calls for 'holistic' approach to flood risk as typhoons batter Philippines

BANGKOK, 6 October - UNISDR champion, Senator Loren Legarda of the Philippines, has called for an integrated flood warning and response system as 3.2 million people struggle with the impact of back-to-back typhoons which have triggered widespread floods across the country.

"The country cannot afford suffering from so many floods that continually erode our development gains. It is high-time for the country to have an integrated flood forecasting, warning and response system and a holistic approach to the flood risk problem,” she said.

Senator Legarda who has successfully advocated for legislative change in disaster management, said: "Disaster, climate change, and development are intrinsically linked. It is important to assess immediately the causes and effects of a major flood and to make recommendations that will improve flood mitigation and response preparedness before the next one hits the country."

She recently urged the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Climate Change Commission to increase their collaboration to reduce flood risk and strengthen the resilience of local communities against climatic events.

The country is bracing itself for another possible storm this week while large swathes of the country remain submerged from the combined impact of heavy monsoon rains, Typhoon Nesat which hit early Tuesday, September 27, and Typhoon Nalgae, which hit on 1 October.

More than 80% of those affected are in Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon regions and thousands of people opted not to leave their homes but moved to rooftops. Some 180,000 people – mostly displaced by Nesat – have been sheltering at state-run evacuation centres.

Sea surges in Manila breached a seawall and forced the evacuation of people living in informal settlements in low-lying areas. Strong waves hit coastal communities across Luzon, and falling trees toppled power lines cutting off electricity to many urban areas where there was also widespread flooding.

The latest National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) update indicates there have been 59 reported deaths and 70 injuries with 31 people still missing. There is no estimate yet of the economic losses incurred by these disasters.

NDRRMC Director Benito Ramos said thousands of rescue workers were deployed across Luzon ahead of Nalgae’s landfall and the island’s sparsely populated north-east coast was evacuated from last Friday. “We’re implementing persuasive evacuation operations,” he told news media.

The national weather bureau has warned of a possible third storm hitting later this week. Luzon and nearby islands are hit by an average of 20 storms per year. The population exposed to cyclones is 16.2 million with estimated exposed GDP of $19.24 billion according to the 2011 Global Assessment Report for Disaster Risk Reduction.

As thousands of school children around the country were unable to attend school or saw their schools flooded, Senator Legarda invited children from all over the country to reflect on the country’s experience of these latest disasters and to "Step up for Disaster risk reduction" on International Disaster Reduction Day next week on 13 October.
5th Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in May 2017 5th Global Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction in May 2017.
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