There’s hardly any other local news more significant than typhoon Sendong updates. I was thinking of writing about something else but I couldn’t continue. Not with the thought of typhoon Sendong in mind, especially that I know a few who were also affected by the storm. So here I write about the aftermath and what points can be best talked about.
Learn from the lessons of previous typhoon catastrophe
With almost 1,000 people dead and still counting plus hundreds more missing, one can’t help but remember the same dilemma there was back when it was Ondoy which devastated the lands. It’s nothing to do with water dams this time but you can learn from the lessons of the past. Problem is, no one really learns until catastrophe strikes.
Warnings were not enough or were too late back in Ondoy but for typhoon Sendong, warnings were sent out early before the flash floods. Residents living near water areas are aware of the danger present when rivers and water rises, and yet they continue to build houses nearby. Not to completely blame them though as there are no concrete and effective government programs for housing anyway.
The Philippine government’s response
Speaking of the government, there is certainly something being done to help everyone who was affected by typhoon Sendong. It’s not a mere state calamity for Iligan City and Cagayan de Oro who were ravaged by the typhoon the most, it’s now a national state of calamity for the Philippines as various other provinces in the Visayas and Mindanao were also covered in mud and flood waters after the storm. There was also a report of a landslide in Pagudpud up in the north.
Despite Twitter blasts about PNoy partying with PSG (Presidential Security Group), the president is certainly doing something about typhoon Sendong. There’s nothing wrong with him recognizing the efforts of the men and women behind his and his family’s security. Besides, the party was already planned long before the calamity happened. There were numerous organizations, however, who cancelled their Christmas parties and donated collected funds for the victims of typhoon Sendong instead. Not everyone thinks the same way though so we shouldn’t belittle PSG just because they partied and we didn’t.
Still on the government, various agencies are working 24/7 to help in anyway even as I write this. Retrieval operations are still on-going along with identification of recovered bodies. Aside from photos and identifying marks like tattoos or moles, other means to identify the bodies including dental records, DNA, and the like are kept on file just in case relatives will come looking for lost family members later on. A mass grave is currently being prepared for all typhoon Sendong casualties.
Aside from helping the dead, the same government agencies are constantly conducting relief operations to distribute goods for victims who are either staying in evacuation centers or have already started rebuilding their lives by going back to their muddy homes. Calamity funds from different government agencies abound and we’re talking millions here. There was even an 11.17 billion mentioned. We just hope it doesn’t end up in someone else’s pockets.
PNoy did not physically visit the victims in evacuation sites and thus, did not have photo ops. He arranged meetings with local officials instead to discuss and plan what needs to be done. An early warning device worth millions will soon be installed near CDO and Iligan city’s rivers to warn off residents early on in case the waters overflow again. Relocation plans are also underway and will be implemented in the next 2-3 months. I never knew there was such a thing as a housing project for the poor. It was always non-government organizations who erected homes for the homeless ever since. So if there is, we just hope funds become houses and not become houses of officials instead.
As for the early warning device, why now? It should have been done a long time ago. There were even geographical experts who reported about specific areas who are in danger of flash floods years ago and had it mapped city by city, town by town, and province by province. Not many knew about it until now. The government did not heed the warnings then and attends to problems after they happen like sewing patches after clothes are ripped off. Maybe this may not have happened had they took the warnings seriously.
What we are responsible for
Yet the government are not the sole culprits, we are also responsible for the tragedy which befell us. Wood logs abound as the floods rampaged Visayas and Mindanao. The rivers and waters were overflowing because they were insufficient trees up in the mountains to help control the flood. As for a heavy downpour of rain, heavier these days than ever before, it is still our doing. There are greater rainfall now due to global warming and the melting of the polar caps. These are caused by greenhouse effect which we are responsible for, i.e. illegal logging and pollution from vehicles and industrial plants. What’s done is over with now but there is still something which can be done for the future. We are yet to find out.
As for the present, one thing is certain and that is the fact that thousands of people need help. Aside from the Philippine government, various countries all over the world have already sent aide in cash and manpower. Locally, NGOs and even popular celebrities have been extending support. You don’t have to shell out that much money. You can help even with a minimal amount. All these put together can come up with a huge sum of monetary aide. There are various companies who accept donations in behalf of the victims. I’ve found a comprehensive list through this blog: How You Can Help Typhoon Sendong Victims.
With Christmas coming up in a few more days, the real reason behind the season as they always say is about giving and sharing. That’s the best thing we can do after typhoon Sendong.