In face of disaster, residents 'forget' about warning calls and Covid-19 protocols

A resident move his family’s precious belongings from their house to the street to spare them from the flash flood in Bangkal, Davao City on Tuesday evening, 04 August 2020. MindaNews photo by GREGORIO BUENO

On a night of heavy downpour and rising water, what’s the first thing you wish to do? Would you still think of grabbing your face mask and ensure you are treading through floods in ‘pandemic-ally’ safe distance away from the other panicking residents? 

On Tuesday night when driving rains caused waters to rise in some areas in Davao City, the Covid-19 safety nets were put to acid test as residents literally panicked in the maze of answering to disaster warnings and keeping with the health protocols.

Without a dry run to this scenario, Dabawenyos simply suffered a meltdown. And for Davao Central 911, this has emerged as a new challenge. 

Davao Central 911 chief Emmanuel Jaldon blamed it on complacency of some Dabawenyos to flood warnings which ultimately resulted to panic and failing to observe Covid-19 protocols such as social distancing and wearing of face masks.

Jaldon is referring to Dabawenyos affected by flooding due to heavy downpour on Tuesday that started past 4 p.m., who did not heed the early warning calls.  

Passengers crowd a tricycle and ignore health protocols as rain falls heavily in Bangkal, Davao City on Tuesday night. Edge Davao

The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office-Operation Center (CDRRMO-OpCen) advised barangays along Talomo River channels to preposition resources, alert communities, and to closely monitor areas that are prone to flood, street flooding and landslide.     

“For instance, the flooding yesterday, the DRRMO-Opcen has already triggered the early warning siren calling for immediate early evacuation, that timeframe if heeded, will reduce significantly the risks of exposure of people from dangerous flood waters and Covid-19 as well because they can already prepare for it,” Jaldon said.  

“Sadly, people are very complacent. It is a perennial attitude. We rescue practically the same people over and over again in spite of ample early warnings given by our DRRMO. As a result, ang uban wala na nagsuot ug masks because mataas na ang tubig and trapped na sila sa flood waters risking exposure to Covid-19. I just hope people will be more aware on what to do. Mostly, especially diyan sa Central Park along the river bank,” he added. 

Jaldon said Central 911 conducts the usual response protocols plus best effort in ensuring individual’s protection measures by 911 responders during actual response activities. 

“From my understanding of risks reduction in this kind of situation, the primary responsibility rests on each individual in terms of protection be it for Covid-19 coupled with any other form of disaster,” he said. 

Heavy rains have caused the creek tributaries of Talomo River at barangay Balengaeng to overflow. 

Heavy rains continued until 7 p.m. that resulted to flooding in Taal, Bangkal, and Barangay Talomo Proper. Forced evacuation was conducted as flood water reached knee level. There was also reported flooding at Sunny Ville in Brgy. Talomo Proper and forced evacuation was also conducted as flood water reached waist level.

As of 10 p.m. Talomo River subsided. 

The city government of Davao through CDRRMO evacuated around 600 individuals affected by flooding in Brgy. Talomo to Our Lady of Lourdes Parish. 

The Public Safety and Security Command Center (PSSCC), Central 911, Davao City Police Office (DCPO) and Task Force Davao were deployed in the evacuation centers for the safety of the evacuees. 
Meanwhile, Kusina ng Bayan under the Social Welfare and Development Office (CSWDO) distributed hot meals while the city health office (CHO) brought surgical masks and medicine to the affected families.
Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio sent 1,000 reusable face masks for the affected families.