Lawaan, Eastern Samar—The Local Government Unit of Lawaan, through its Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (MDRRMC) spearheaded a municipal typhoon and flood simulation exercise last August 5 to test the preparedness and response capacities of both the barangay and municipal LGUs.
Facilitated by the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CDP), the simulation exercise enjoined more than 300 individuals and families along with the members of the MDRRMC.
The drill tested the early warning systems, communication protocols and the contingency plans to evaluate its effectiveness in time for the forthcoming DRRM planning workshops at the municipal and barangay levels.
“We realized that we need to improve how we communicate with the barangays. Through the drill, we were able to acknowledge our gaps especially in terms of our equipments, and that in reality; we need to address these gaps,” Engr. Dennis Germones, municipal DRRM officer of Lawaan said in Waray language during the assessment.
He recommended that the municipal and barangay LGU strengthen their coordination to, “align the barangay EWS to the municipal EWS.” In general, he emphasized the need to review the communication protocol of the municipality to better communicate the warnings and other response activities to the barangays. “Communication and coordination is very crucial especially if we are to align the barangays’ efforts to the municipality’s actions.”
Prior to the drill, MDRRMC of Lawaan and the barangays held workshops in early warning system, communication protocol, clustering, among others, utilizing the forms instituted by the Office of Civil Defense (OCD). They also ensured that the plans included the issues and concerns of persons with disabilities who also took part in designing and crafting the plans.
Three (3) barangays of Lawaan participated in the simulation exercises: Poblacions 5, 6, and 9. These barangays also took part in the community risk assessment and contingency planning workshops. They were able to craft their local EWS and contingency plans, which they tested during the simulation exercise. As flooding and typhoon hit these areas most, they realized that the simulation exercises was crucial in improving their capacities.
According to Punong Barangay Alex Biong of Poblacion 6, the BDRRMC were really keen in joining the drill because they wanted to systematize their response mechanism. “Sumali kami sa drill dahil gusto naming ma-train ang aming council at responders…dahil kailangan naming subukan an gaming EWS,” he said.
Apart from the barangays, DPOs from Balangiga and Lawaan, and the trainers trained by Project ELEVATE also served as Station Heads and Evaluators for the Drill.
Ms. Norly of SDAPOL commended the BDRRMCs for exerting extra efforts to respond to the needs of the community. “May coordination ang BDRRMC laluna kung kailangan ipadala ang mga members sa evacuation centers…naihanda at nainform ang mga tao,” she stressed.
Ms. Norly is just among the members of SDAPOL and DPO Balangiga who took the initiative in supporting the simulation exercise. For them, it was an experience that they would never forget. “(dahil sa drill) nakikita naming konting improvement na lang para sa typhoon. Hindi naman perfect pero konti na lang (at kaya na),” she gladly shared.
After the drill, the communities of Lawaan and Balangiga and the municipal LGUs are geared towards BDRRM and MDRRM planning workshops ensued this August.
The simulation exercise is one of the activities under the PROJECT ELEVATE: MARIG-ON, ESTEHANON, implemented by CDP in partnership with the LGUs of Balangiga and Lawaan, and supported by Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB).