MANILA - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources on Monday urged local governments to make use of geohazard maps in preparation for storms.
Complete color-coded geohazard maps are "readily available" on the website of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau, the DENR said.
"These are even color-coded to indicate areas that are high risk or with high susceptibility to landslides and floods," said DENR chief Roy Cimatu.
The DENR said its geohazard mapping project is still ongoing, but they have already completed the landslide and flood susceptibility assessment of 1,634 cities and municipalities in the country.
The environment official's reminder came after the death toll from the onslaught of tropical depression Usman reached 126, with over 20 more people missing.
Most of the fatalities were due to landslides in different towns in Bicol, where disaster officials say Usman brought 84 percent or nearly a month's worth of rain during its peak.
National disaster agency spokesperson Edgar Posadas earlier said local governments were given "enough information" ahead of the storm's onslaught.
He said authorities were even able to identify at least 2,700 floods prone areas as early as December 26 or three days before Usman made landfall in Eastern Visayas.
University of the Philippines Professor Mahar Lagmay, however, said he doubts that local government use the MGB's geohazard maps, given their response to Usman.
Lagmay, who headed Project NOAH, also said the weather forecasts for Usman were wrong, particularly the outlook on the rains it would bring to certain areas.
In a Facebook post, he said the forecast on December 28 and 29 showed Usman would bring moderate to heavy rains, but the storm brought intense to torrential rains.
"Wala pong kinalaman ang signal number sa dami ng ulan dahil ang signal numbers ng PAGASA ay lakas ng hangin ang basehan," Lagmay said.