I believe that the #MMShakeDrill held today, July 30, 2015 was a success. It has definitely increased the awareness of people about earthquakes and what to do in case an earthquake occurs – this alone will save many lives. When it comes to disasters, preparation and presence of mind are very, very important.
Previous experience with disaster
I have had an experience with a natural disaster already – the infamous Ondoy on September 26, 2009. I knew there was a typhoon, and I remember seeing the water level in the Marikina River that morning and thinking that it seemed quite high. Inspite of that, I didn’t see the need to worry. Little did I know that later that morning, the water would reach catastrophic levels and destroy many properties and take many lives.
Now, Marikina has a system whereby someone always monitors the water level in the Marikina River, and they sound the sirens when the water reaches certain levels. That may be the signal for the residents to evacuate. If that system was in place when Ondoy struck, I believe so many people would have been saved.
While my previous experience was with floods, I believe that all disasters, whether floods or earthquakes or what not, need preparation and presence of mind.
I have read about emergency kits ever since our Ondoy experience. But like everybody else, I procrastinated (sorry!). Since there was a scheduled #MMShakeDrill, I made it my personal deadline to finally prepare our emergency bag. I put it near our door so in case of emergency, it’s easy to bring. I’m not really a person with complete presence of mind during emergencies so it’s better if the procedure is a no-brainer for me. I just feel that my emergency bag is too heavy (I think I put too much canned goods and water hehe!).
Our son’s school also sent us a questionnaire about our level of preparation for an earthquake so that helped as well (in letting me know I need to prepare more!). I asked his teacher before and I learned that they have monthly earthquake drills, so that’s a relief. I also know that the physical lay-out of the school would make evacuation manageable, and the kids are quite disciplined too, so I feel at ease.
As a parent, we always think about our children and how they would be doing in case an earthquake occurs when they are in school. If you have children, I suggest you ask them about earthquake drills and their school and also personally check if the school buildings look sturdy.
Personally, I feel that my son is safe in his school because when I was in elementary in the same school during the July 16, 1990 earthquake, we had no problem getting to an open space because of the school’s lay-out. I can only pray that my son will always be safe in his school.
I researched about where our evacuation center would be (South Sector – Villamor). I looked for the barangay hall location as it would be the nearest evacuation center. Our family has agreed to go to a nearby vacant lot in case of emergency. I put the emergency numbers beside our home phone.
I think we can do more but for now perhaps these will do.
I re-read my old articles on earthquakes (and its relation to real estate investing):
I found a cool video about the study that was made on the risks for natural disasters in the Greater Metro Manila area. I appreciate that they really spent time to study the risks. At the same time, it’s quite scary to know that there’s really sound basis for us to be prepared for a disaster.
During the #MMShakeDrill
I purposely did not schedule a meeting so that I would be at home during the drill. I was expecting to hear a wailing siren (since it was announced that we would hear it since it would signal the start of the drill) but there was none. There was nothing going on and I did not even do the drop, cover, and hold since I was near the door and planned to just get out to the street. But no one went out also. So I just stayed put.
I realized that the neighborhood association should also have a system for responding to earthquakes and other disasters. We cannot expect the national or even local government to give us special attention, specially since everybody will surely be asking for help when it comes to a real emergency.
During Ondoy, so many people were calling the hotlines all at the same time, everyone was asking for help, and no one could help! You can count only on yourself! We have to be realistic. I think I will suggest that the association secure a satellite phone just in case we may need it.
At 9:29am, I received a text message from MMDA through Globe about the #MMShakeDrill. This was the message:
At exactly 10:30 AM, magaganap ang Metro Manila Shake Drill. Makilahok. Drop, cover, and hold for 45 seconds. This public service advisory is brought to you by MMDA and Globe.
I thought that this may already be the implementation of R.A. 10639 or the “Free Mobile Disaster Alerts Act”. Very good! I received another text at 10:56 am, informing me of the start of the drill. Hmm, 26 minutes late. A friend posted the text from Smart which was also late. Maybe next time they can work on that.
After the #MMShakeDrill
Since we don’t have a tv (by choice), I just checked the internet for news and I think for the most part, it went well.
There was a foreigner who liked the use of motorcycles by rescuers since it is likely that the roads would be obstructed in case of an earthquake. Another one suggested that the scenarios be more realistic, and that the officials could use technology to simulate different scenarios so they can think of how to respond properly to each scenario.
I read an article that there will be a seaborne hospital, in anticipation of some roads not being passable. In case the patients become too many, they may be airlifted via military helicopters to hospitals. These plans are good. I hope they have a plan in case the rescuers also become victims or have families that are victims such that they won’t be able to attend to others anymore (like what happened during Yolanda).
If Guadalupe bridge is one of the roads that they predict will collapse, then it should really be strengthened already! PNoy mentioned the problems that are stopping them from implementing the project in his last SONA. I hope the people affected will cooperate since it’s quite scary to imagine the Guadalupe falling down – so many vehicles pass through it.
As for me, I think the one that should be given more attention is the quality of our structures. As Dr. Elizabeth Hausler, earthquake engineer, said, “Earthquakes don’t kill people. Poorly built buildings do.”
It’s good that rappler published a self-test so you can determine whether your house can withstand major earthquakes. At the end, however, if you get a low score, you are advised to consult a structural engineer immediately. I am not familiar with how much structural engineers charge for consultation though. I suppose the costs to strengthen a house would vary from house to house. On this point, I believe that the local government unit (LGU) should take the initiative and hire a structural engineer to evaluate the integrity of structures within their jurisdiction.
This may be useful (from http://www.aseponline.org/contacts/)
Association of Structural Engineers of the Philippines, Inc. (ASEP)
Future Point Plaza Condominium 1, 112 Panay Avenue.,
Quezon City 110 Philippines
Telephone Number: (+632) 411-8606
Fax Number: (+632) 410-0483
Mobile Number: (+63917) 823-7739
Rappler’s article on what makes buildings earthquake-ready is also a very good read. Those building their own homes or those in the build and sell business should read it.
I also found an FB community that gives very good information about the Building Code: https://www.facebook.com/BuildingCode.Ph. I think this is being run by architects.
Overall, I think the project was a success. I would like to thank MMDA, Phivolcs, the LGU’s, and all of the people who worked hard to make the #MMShakeDrill a success. We are thankful for your service. May God bless us all and protect us from natural disasters.
How about you, what can you say about the #MMShakeDrill? Do you have suggestions for improvement?