by: Rodrigo S. Victoria
NAVAL, Biliran (PIA) – Much has been said on the humanitarian assistance like food, shelter, clothing and other various form of assistance coming from the international humanitarian agencies including that of the national government, non-government organizations and private groups that help the victims of ‘Yolanda’ go back slowly on their feet.
These tangible humanitarian help, though very much important as an immediate response to inject life- saving mechanisms to the affected communities, outclassed a more relevant and important tool which could offer a greater help to communities even before, on and after disaster of great magnitude strikes.
More lives may be saved from Yolanda if people really knew what a storm surge was as repeatedly announced in the different media platforms several days before the catastrophic event took place on November 8, 2013.
Even learned individuals don’t really know exactly what a storm surge is in its entirety despite several warnings on the height of waves it may produce brought about by the very strong winds which is the first of its kind ever recorded in recent history.
People living in the coastal communities, without an iota of doubt, would pack their bags and went to a safe place, if it was announced as tidal wave or a tsunami (abnormal seawater movements), which were entirely different from storm surge.
The absence of the ‘right information’ caused the deaths of thousands of lives and destruction of billions worth of properties not counting the shattered hopes of some of the survivors.
There came the other form of a very useful intervention in times of pre, on and post disaster periods -to communicate with the communities through information dissemination of disaster-related information materials in various media platforms.
Information is also a very useful aid aside from the tangible humanitarian assistance because it helps people understand the situation at hand and arrived at a decision most helpful in the preservation of lives and properties.
People’s lives would be most safe and properties would not be wasted if they will not build houses in identified geo-hazard zones like in flood, landslide, earthquake and in the no-safe dwelling zones (unsafe dwelling place within the 40 meters no-build zone) where government and non-government organizations have intensively informed through several media platforms of the dangers living in these areas.
People who internalized disaster-related information relayed by concerned government offices especially from the local risk reduction and management offices in the local government units are most likely to be saved from calamites and disasters.
We are now living in an era where information is available in just a tick of a second and that these modes of information are even simplified and reinforced with the help of information officers of government agencies.
Out world today is no longer the same in biblical time where Noah just verbally kept reminding the people of the great flood to come through the word of mouth, thus the building of an ark to save their lives, yet we seem to never learn how important information as an aid is to help save lives and properties in times of disasters and calamities. (PIA 8 Biliran)