Press Release
June 24, 2011

Greater Efforts Needed to be More Prepared for Next Typhoons--Legarda

Senator Loren Legarda today said that while there are improvements in the government's preparation for the onslaught of typhoons, much is still needed to reduce the risks when natural hazards strike.

Legarda, the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR) Regional Champion for Asia-Pacific, explained that even with close coordination among government agencies in preparing for hazards and issuing advisories to citizens, several areas were still left flooded due to the heavy rains brought by Typhoon Falcon.

The Senator noted reports that incessant rains produced floodwaters of more than 20 inches deep in several highways in Metro Manila such as Aurora Boulevard, Osmeña Highway, Araneta Avenue and Lawton, causing many motorists and commuters to be stranded.

"Typhoon Egay had left the country but was quickly followed by Typhoon Falcon, and since we are in the midst of the rainy season, it is possible to have another tropical storm immediately. This series of typhoons bring to mind the string of tropical cyclones in 2009--Ondoy, Pepeng and Santi--which caused immense devastation in several parts of the country and in the lives of many Filipinos," Legarda pointed out.

"We are seeing positive developments in terms of early warning and evacuation in affected communities. A big step further is to think long-term and do more for improved urban planning and disaster prevention."

"The quality of scientific data available to government agencies and local government units for predicting and forecasting disasters requires urgent improvement. Local governments must be in the frontline in confronting the worsening flooding problem. Local governments must update their data on flood hazards & vulnerabilities, develop their information base on flood losses, invest in flood protection and mitigation, identify safe land for low-income families and implement the solid waste management law at full speed," Legarda said.

The Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change stressed that when typhoons are expected to hit the country, local government units must be ready to activate all forms of early warning systems, ensure that canals and drainage systems had been cleaned up to avoid flooding, and evacuate families living in landslide- prone, flood-prone and other vulnerable areas.

"Our people need to feel secure when they sleep at night; they need to feel safe when they go to work; or even in just simply living their lives amidst threats of disasters. We must not forget the lessons brought by these heavy rains when the floodwaters eventually recede so when the next typhoon strikes, we will be better prepared to meet the challenges head on."

"There will always be typhoons. Probably far worse than what we have experienced thus far. And our people should feel confident that even in the worst of situations, they would have a fair chance of returning safely to their home," Legarda concluded.

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