Paying It Forward: Planning Ahead for Disasters

Aneth Ng-Lim

Posted at Jul 23 2018 09:36 AM

Motorists traverse a flooded street in Makati. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

Josie literally rained on the parade planned this July for the celebration of National Disaster Consciousness Month. The 10th tropical cyclone to hit the country this year, Josie activated emergency alerts several times a day for all of last week, issuing red and orange rainfall warnings. 

Between class and work suspensions and flooded areas, we can expect the productivity loss to hit hard both the public and private sectors. As of last count, some 50,000 families or 200,000 individuals were affected. In Mindoro Occidental alone, farmers lost close to P6 million worth of crops.

And since the country usually gets an average of 20 tropical cyclones in a year, we could be looking at 10 more Josies in our horizon.

Is it possible for you to better prepare yourself and your finances should disaster strike? We polled experts from different industries on their disaster-readiness and their sound advice can help you protect yourself and your wallet too. 

PLAN AROUND THE TYPHOON SEASON

Over the last decade, Learning Curve has been staging live events year-round on topics that cover investment education to digital marketing. President Heinz Bulos shares his one simple strategy to steer clear of disasters: "We make it a point to avoid booking events during the typhoon season, which is typically around August and September. It’s a matter of minimizing the risk."

That strategy has worked well for Learning Curve and Bulos who admits that so far they’ve only had to cancel one event.

"I remember we were monitoring the weather forecast until we decided to cancel the afternoon before the event because of widespread flooding," recalls Bulos.

They told their staff to stay home for their safety and contact all seminar participants. "Thankfully almost all got the message but a handful did not and came to the venue. For their commitment, we gave them free access to another seminar."

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

As School Headmaster of 18-year old Victory Christian International School, Wallace Panlilio III takes the lead in brainstorming sessions with his team to anticipate the worst-case scenario.

"Scenario planning is important as well as conducting an information dissemination campaign to all the stakeholders," explains Panlilio. In this case, the stakeholders cover students across grade school, junior high school and senior high school so Panlilio also ensures to provide as many signages as possible that will make it easy for people to remember or to know what to do. 

Most importantly, Panlilio focuses on "practice, practice, and practice, so that good responses will become muscle memory as there probably won’t be enough time to process" in case of a real emergency or when disaster strikes.

PRICELESS SURVIVAL SKILLS

The team of Childhope Philippines prepares its staff and beneficiaries not only for typhoons but also other natural disasters including earthquakes. According to Dr Herbert Carpio, executive director of the 29-year old non-profit focused on helping street children, they have arranged exposure trips to fire departments for their beneficiaries where they were taught about fire safety and disaster response. All their staff also underwent training in Basic Life Support and first aid, in partnership with the volunteer organization, TXTFIRE. 

But it’s tricky to prepare for disaster children who live on the streets. During typhoons, everyone naturally seeks shelter for protection from the harsh elements, something that these kids do not have.

Carpio hopes to roll out this year a Disaster Response teaching module for their nearly 500 street children beneficiaries. Addressing their lack of shelter, "We hope to equip them with the proper knowledge on where to seek help and what to do in case disasters like earthquake, floods, typhoons strike Metro Manila." 

If you’re blessed to come out of typhoons and disasters with no lasting harm to yourself or to your wallet, consider helping others who were not so lucky. There are many charities that accept donations or welcome volunteers, and you can choose to aid disaster relief or rebuilding efforts for the worst-hit communities.

Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.