Long before the arrival of super typhoon Yolanda, in Janiuay, Iloilo, disaster risk prevention measures had long since served as a top priority.
“Since 2010, our LGU have been practicing and enforcing preventive measures, including evacuations, long before the arrival of Yolanda,” Ricardo S. Minurtio shared.
To ensure that these preventative measures are effective during ‘real time’ disasters, these community-based activities include a range of sectors within the municipality: schools, government officials, local groups, and the like.
“You have to make the people aware, and you have to train them,” Mayor Frankie H. Locsin believes. “That’s how we work here: we work in teams. We send out teams to different locations to provide us with a clear picture of the damage, and the relevant needs.”
“Those of us in the office, for example, have received designated areas and roles to assess the extent of the damage, so that the day after the typhoon we can see what’s happening across the municipality. This is how we ensure both a fast response and recovery,” Ramon Sucayan, DILG field officer, added.
‘A State of Calamity’
While Yolanda was not experienced as forcefully in Janiuay as compared to other Iloilo municipalities, “we were the first to declare the State of Calamity,” Mayor Frankie explains.
“It opened a lot of opportunities,” he explains. “We could open stores, and gas stations: anything that the people needed.”
In the days leading up to November 8, a number of local schools and gymnasiums were assigned to serve as evacuation centers. “We’ve been building evacuation centers (in preparation for calamities), long before Yolanda,” Mayor Frankie explains. “And while they weren’t built necessarily to withstand category 5 storms, they did serve the people well.”
During the Yolanda disaster, the municipal hall sustained significant damage: whole sections of the roof were blown away, a victim of the strong winds.
With support from RAY DILG funds, municipal officials then installed a new roof, complete with steel trusses, for added resiliency. Later, the LGU would fund additional repairs to ensure a comprehensive refurbishment of the entire municipal building.