Until Super Typhoon Yolanda unleashed its fury in the central region of the Philippines in 2013, we all thought that being visited by 20 or more weather disturbances leading to typhoons were par for the course of our existence.
Seeing the devastation, death, chaos and the inadequacy of government, both local and national, to act expeditiously in extending help, relief and, to this day, even the rehabilitation of the lives of the people, in the aftermath of Yolanda brought about by heavy rains, violent winds and the deadly storm surge, Filipinos are now beginning to understand and accept that, indeed, a new normal has to be considered when talking about typhoons coming out way.
There was no better proof of our acknowledgment of this new normal when those concerned listened, prepared and complied at the authorities urgings to evacuate and move to higher grounds long before the onslaught of the erratic and slow-moving Typhoon Ruby (international name: Hagupit).
Ruby was considered the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year and though nowhere near Yolanda in deadliness, nonetheless it cause havoc in places it made landfalls. Overall, Ruby caused less damage and death than feared.
But my point in having a title, as such, for this blog is that while we have come to recognize the new normal by demonstrating also our new awareness and attitude towards typhoons these days, local and national officials should also plan, communicate and coordinate about the best steps to take with regards to sustaining a reliable and decent evacuation centers.
Until relocation sites have been identified and sturdy structures are built for displaced or dislocated families, the need for evacuation centers are of utmost priority.
Governments should plan ahead and stop doing the abnormal act of allowing and/or assigning schools as temporary refuge for evacuees.
Government officials can do this once or twice, but knowing that the country expects 20 or more typhoons a year, why continue the abnormal practice of housing the evacuees in schools at the expense of the already poor and struggling Filipino students? It only shows indifference to the plight of the students that are being burdened by the thought that they can’t go to school and ineptness of their responsibilities. It is bad enough that classes are suspended, but even worse when their absence is prolonged because the school rooms continue to be occupied by the evacuees indefinitely.
Again it is a matter of government officials lacking in foresight and political well. I don’t think money is a big problem. Instead of expending money every time a province or a city declares a state of calamity, why not use the huge amount of funds asked for in building evacuation centers, which later on can be converted to schools or a government facility of some kind, when the evacuees finally get their own assigned homes?