Mayor Susan Yap Ang did not expect that the DRRM training workshop she attended in September 2013 to be put into practice on November 8, 2013.
“We attended the training in Ormoc City with the heads of offices, Sangguaning Bayan and police,” the Mayor explained. “Then what we learned happened in reality. One week before Yolanda, I called those who attended the seminar-workshop to set up the command system.”
As a result, communication with each of the municipality’s barangay was in place, just as Yolanda was due to make landfall. Yet, “as we roamed around the town, making announcements, some people simply laughed,” she remembers. “They assumed that it would just be an ordinary typhoon.”
Yet for some, attitudes were quick to shift. “When the people saw the news on TV, that’s when they began preparing,” the Mayor remembers. “Those in coastal area called the command center and requested to be picked up. We evacuated them in our schools and prepared food for them.”
“I was in the command center at the height of Yolanda,” she says.
“I told (my staff) to visit all the businesses and retrieve 60% of their products, even if they were wet,” she says. “Rice and corn, mainly. We received these food supplies first, then repaid vendors once the banks re-opened.
Then, I mobilized everyone for the clean up drive. With the food supplies, we then informed the people about a ‘food for work’ program. Those who helped us in the clean up drive would receive 100 pesos, with three kilos of rice and two cans of sardines.
In three days, we were able to clear the roads in the town proper. Then it was mirrored to our baranggays . After one week, all roads were passable.”
RAY DILG funds
As the municipality began its recovery, “(Former DILG) Secretary Mar Roxas of came to visit,” Mayor Susan says. “He discussed the RAY Batch 1 projects with us. We received RAY DILG Batch 1 funds for the repair of our market and civic center.”
“DILG was the first agency that forwarded money to us, for the rehabilitation works after Yolanda,” she says. “We used these funds to install a new roof, galvanized iron sheets, and for general improvements to both (infrastructures).”
Disaster risk reduction: ‘empowering the people’
Over the past two years, the lessons of Yolanda continue to drive the people of San Isidro.
“DRRM is now one of our focus areas,” Mayor Susan says. “Our goal is to conduct regular trainings to our ‘frontline’ staff, in the municipality, then down to our barangays. Later, we plan to extend this into our schools, so that all sectors of community will be knowledgeable and aware, so that in the event of a new crisis, we will all know what to do.”
“I want our people to be trained, because that will empower them further,” Mayor Susan added.