Editorial: Storm shelters as alternative

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

MONTHS after the northern tip of Cebu was devastated by super typhoon Yolanda, rehabilitation work continues. There is still no definite assessment, however, as to the adequacy of government efforts not only in rebuilding the affected communities but also in preparing these communities for the next weather disturbance.

Meanwhile, we have been hearing about politics rearing its head in some areas, hampering the distribution of assistance to the victims and funds for rehabilitation work.

In Daanbantayan, barangay captains that are either allied with the mayor or with the opposition have been engaged in a verbal war over the distribution of aid.


In Medellin town, the mayor, who is with the opposition, seems to be in a love-hate relationship with the governor. He criticized Capitol’s supposed failure to deliver the needed assistance early on but recently gave it a plaque of appreciation for the financial help the town later got.

We take it, however, that officials of the other affected local government units are quietly doing their best to rebuild their areas. But what is apparent there is that they need not only assistance but also guidance from Capitol and even the national government.

One problem in terms of disaster preparedness, for example, is the implementation of government’s no-build zone policy. This is particularly tricky in the province’s northern tip where fishing is an important livelihood and a good number of people live near the shoreline.

Indeed, even the office of the presidential assistant for rehabilitation and recovery has admitted that the no-build zone policy “may be impractical for certain areas.”

It is in this context that creativity should apply. Wherever the no-build zone policy is not applicable, government should shift to the construction of storm shelters like what Bangladesh built after it was devastated by a super typhoon in 1991.

These storm shelters, which should be built in such a way that they can accommodate people living in the surrounding areas and can withstand strong winds and storm surges, should be combined with a good storm warning system to be effective.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on May 16, 2014.


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