“Zero Tolerance” in Albay pays off

UNISDR champion, Governor Joey Salceda of Albay, Philippines, receiving sectoral updates from the province's disaster management team.
 
By Brigitte Leoni

BANGKOK, 17 July 2014 - Governor Joey Salceda of hard-hit Albay Province, today said economic losses from Typhoon Rammasun (local name Glenda) could push over 20,000 families into poverty but many lives have been saved through early warnings and evacuations.

One million people have been affected by this latest typhoon to hit the Philippines which packed winds up to 180 kph. A “zero tolerance” approach to casualties by UNISDR Champion, Governor Salceda, means that there was no loss of life in Albay but 38 people died elsewhere.

According to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), a state of calamity has been declared in Albay, Camarines Sur and Naga City. One million people have been affected this week including 530,000 who occupied evacuation centres.

The Manila Electric Company (Meralco), the country's largest power distributor which serves the capital and surrounding areas, said 1.9 million households still did not have power on Thursday.

Governor Salceda stated that economic losses, currently estimated at $16.5 million could rise to $90 million. In a statement today, he said a reconstruction plan would be submitted to the national government. Any delays in execution could push 27,000 families deeper into poverty and hunger alongside an existing 72,000 struggling families in an economy exposed to weather extremes.

Philippines Senator Loren Legarda who is the UNISDR Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, noted: “The level of disaster preparedness has evidently improved, from forecasting, early warning to evacuation of families in high-risk areas. were sent out early.

“These weather bulletins were given out regularly and warnings of storm surges measures have saved many lives but more needs to be done to prevent damages to critical infrastructure which have often killed and severely injured people” she said.
Good communications and efficient warning systems allowed 400,000 people to be evacuated in Manila.

The NDRRMC has confirmed 38 deaths due to collapsed walls, falling debris and fallen trees that were uprooted due to strong winds, while others died of electrocution and drowning.

More than 20 000 house roofs were ripped off; 15 roads and four bridges were damaged or destroyed. Manila airport was closed and planes were even damaged on the runway. Over 1,000 ferry boat passengers remain stranded.

“National and local action must promote disaster prevention with ‘zero tolerance’ as a mindset and approach, said also Legarda. On the other hand, citizens must do their part by paying attention to government warnings and community advisories, especially when there is a need to evacuate.”

“As indicated by nearly ten years of implementation of the Hyogo Framework for Action, the number of people killed by weather-related disasters is going down but economic losses are increasing and remain a big challenge in the years to come,” said Feng Min Kan, Head of Asia Pacific UN Office of Disaster Risk reduction.

The challenge is a major concern to disaster risk reduction practitioners who are currently discussing a successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action which is ending in 2015.

Ms. Kan said: “We are all aware of the trend of growing economic risk from disasters and more investments will be urgently needed to reduce underlying drivers of disaster risk if we want to make progress on reducing economic losses in the years to come.”

Glenda is the seventh storm to hit the Philippines in 2014 and the strongest one since Typhoon Hayan which killed at least 6,000 people fall last.

Glenda is now heading toward Northern Vietnam and China.
The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction The United Nations General Assembly requested UNISDR to facilitate the development of a post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.
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