Almost two years after Typhoon Yolanda, a couple of barangays in Sta. Fe, a few kilometers away from Tacloban, successfully conducted typhoon drills earlier today, October 13. The activity was held in line with the International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDRR) 2015.
A total of 1,580 people from Barangays Badiangay and Gapas participated in the drill organized by local NGO Assistance and Cooperation for Community Resilience and Development (ACCORD) in partnership with CARE and the Dutch Cooperating Aid Agencies (SHO). It is the culmination of a series of trainings and planning workshops that aimed to strengthen barangay disaster risk reduction and management committees (DRRMCs).
The activity aimed to test the barangays’ contingency plans and the capacity of their BDRRMCs to manage emergencies. To do so, the drill simulated their worst case scenario – a Signal Number 5 typhoon similar in strength to Yolanda. A control group provided scenarios to which members of the BDRRMC and the whole community responded.
Barangay staff and volunteers were mobilized for various tasks. A warning team continuously monitored the typhoon strength and the level of flooding in their areas. Vehicles and rescue equipment were prepared. When Alert Level 3 was declared, families orderly evacuated from their homes to designated evacuation centers bringing food, clothes, etc. A medical team saw to the treatment of “injuries”. As the activity ended, relief goods were distributed to families before going home. Representatives from the Sta. Fe Municipal DRRMC and officials from other barangays were also at hand to observe the conduct of the drills.
Jennifer Furigay, ACCORD Area Coordinator for Leyte, notes that these drills “would not be as successful without the whole community pitching in. We have been working hand in hand for our Yolanda recovery programs these past two years – rebuilding homes and strengthening livelihoods. Today just proves that with adequate support from the government, our partner barangays can sustain all these and more.”
For his part, Sta. Fe Mayor Oscar Monteza highlighted the difference of this drill from previous ones they conducted. “There’s a sense of excitement, of people wanting to be involved. More importantly, we now know that we can do better. We would like to thank ACCORD and all who believed in us. Yolanda may be behind us, but we will bring her lessons towards our more resilient future,” he says.
Furigay also remarked how the theme for this year’s IDDR, “Knowledge is Life,” resonated with the barangays. “Communities like Badiangay and Gapas have shown that an empowered and active citizenry is their best asset. Their knowledge, skills and capacities are what makes DRR work. Let us all continue to involve them in efforts to build up their resilience and further development,” she says.
Similar typhoon drills were also conducted last week in La Paz and Dagami, where 2,626 people participated. Other ACCORD partner barangays will hold drills later this week in Tabontabon and Pastrana, with another 2,310 people expected to join. ACCORD will also conduct drills in at least 3 barangays in Iloilo province.