While few could have imagined its sheer force, multiple disaster prevention measures were undertaken in Kalibo, Aklan during the lead-up to Super Typhoon Yolanda.
As the typhoon neared, four evacuation centers were quickly identified. Officials roamed the streets, equipped with sirens informing citizens to evacuate to nearby centers. Police and rescuers were immediately mobilized to help those in need: to assist with relief efforts, heavy equipment was strategically placed in the local plaza. In remote areas, barangay captains were provided with handsets to deliver vital information to central command officials.
These efforts to inform and prepare the public were especially effective, Mayor William S. Lachica explains, as many local citizens had first packed their things in plastic, before evacuating.
“The people were very cooperative,” Mayor William says. “And the people here are tulong tulong (very helpful) to one another.”
“After Yolanda we went out to every barangay ,” he explains. “We identified what had been damaged, especially homes and crops. And we thanked God that there were no casualties.”
Met with muddy water
“It was very challenging because the flood, high tide and water from the upland areas of Libacao and Madalag flowed into Kalibo, all at the same time. Our municipal hall was flooded, not with typical sea water, but with muddy water,” Mayor William shared.
The muddy flood was responsible for the most of the damage. Some houses, losing their foundations, collapsed.
Immediately, both citizens and local government officials teamed up to focus on clean-up efforts: not just in the municipal hall, but within the entire municipality.
“The people were tired – and so were we, the officials,” Mayor William remembers. “We gathered the toppled trees to clean up our roads. We dug drains that had clogged due to the mud. Though it was very tiring, we knew that we needed to clear these areas to ensure our fast recovery.”
As the community moved forward from Typhoon Yolanda, they were again challenged by the coming of Typhoons Ruby and Seniang.
As a result, extra precautions were taken. “Our people had suffered trauma as result of past typhoons,” the Mayor explains. “The moment they learned about Ruby and Seniang, they packed their things, went to the evacuation centers or to their relatives who live in safer and sturdier houses. When they left their houses, they tied bamboo to the roof to ensure that it would not be easily blown off by strong winds.”
“That’s why we’d like to thank the DILG for these funds,” the Mayor added. “You can see that all the people here in Kalibo are now stable, and our the houses and our roads are now fully recovered.”