Roamer's Roundup

The Metropolis and Natural Disasters

A few days ago, a story was published by the Philippine Star about a study by a Swiss insurance firm which stated that Manila was the 2nd most at-risk metropolis from natural disasters.

With such a story, one has to get more information, preferably straight from the source. Fortunately, Swiss Re, the firm that commissioned or has done the study, has a copy of this study online, which you  can check here. One thing to note though is that this study has been published way back in September 2013. So how it managed  to fly under the radar of local journalists until a few days ago is a puzzle to say the least. (which is all I’m going to say before it gets out of hand)

Currency of the story aside though, some of the information presented in this study is nothing new. Just ask folks like architects/urban planners Felipe Palafox and Paulo Alcazaren who have been always advocating better urban planning for Metro Manila. Besides, with many of us having lived through the monsoon floods of the past few years and most especially the wrath of Typhoon Ondoy back in 2009, we all should have a good idea at least of those challenges. That being said, it is a matter of frustration whenever we hear about how government agencies not doing enough to address the situation when it comes. Unfortunately, it is not something that seldom happens.

Metro Manila under the wrath of Typhoon Ondoy, 2009 (taken from the Philippine Daily Inquirer)

Then there’s the danger of the earthquake. While we are fortunate for now that we have not yet experienced a major earthquake that would devastate our infrastructure, we have always been warned to be prepared for a possible major earthquake to hit in the future as the Valley Fault, the fault line that runs through the eastern part of the metropolis is ripe for a major movement any time. And if such a disaster happens, it is unimaginable to picture in the head how many will be affected, considering there are many informal dwellers in the city who live in dwellings made of earthquake-prone materials, not to mention those who live in villages that lie near or on the fault line itself! (how those villages came to be developed in the first place is another mystery)

the Valley Fault System, from Tempo Online

But there are some aspects in this story that should be a reason to be hopeful somehow. There is a growing awareness for disaster preparedness and management among the people. At the same time, infrastructure during the past few years have taken into account these natural disasters and were built to ensure they can withstand them. Another particular example worth is noting is the flood control system at the Bonifacio Global City, which has ensured this part of the metropolis that it would be free from flooding.

Metro Manila as it is, is prone to natural disasters. There is no way going around that one. The best that all of us can do is to be prepared to face them when they happen. There is no room for dilly-dallying or half-baked measures. The only way to be fully prepared  and ready as we should be.

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