ON THESE RAINY DAYS: Albay to adopt multi-hazard approach vs natural disasters

By Mar S. Arguelles LEGAZPI CITY --- Disaster authorities in Albay are determined to adopt a multi-hazard approach amid calamities spawned by cyclones, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, an official of the Albay Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) said yesterday, Nov. 15. Series of earthquakes of tectonic origin with slight to moderate intensity jolted the province recently and strings of volcanic quakeshocks were reported around Mount Mayon signifying that the volcano remains restive, according to Cedric Daep, executive director of the Albay Public Safety and Management Office (APSEMO. Aside from earthquakes from the fault lines and the abnormal behavior of Mayon volcano, the province is now threatened with tropical depression, storms and cyclones in the months of November and December, Daep said in an interview. He said based on the given disaster hazards, the APSEMO has adapted multi-hazard scenarios that would caution the effects of possible tsunami, landslide, flooding, volcanic eruptions. Daep said the new approach would look into the effects of earthquakes that during rainy days spawn more landslides even in areas not originally identified as landslide-prone areas. Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara, PDRRMC chair, during the PDRRMC 4th Quarter Meeting held over the weekend said: “November is a bad month for Albay, it is a critical period where typhoons either hit or pass by Bicol.” He directed the APSEMO to carry out the recently crafted disaster scenarios focused on the three-pronged natural hazards such as typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions. APSEMO records indicate that in the last two decades, strong typhoons always hit the province during the month of November. He enumerated these strong typhoons as “Sisang” in 1986, “Rosing” in 1995, “Loleng” in 1998, and so far the strongest typhoon that hit Bicol was super typhoon “Reming” in 2006. Reming left hundreds of people dead due to flooding, lahar flows, and landslides. Mayon Volcano eruptions Records at the Philippine Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) show that Mayon volcano in the past four decades had three major eruptions in 1968, 1984 and 2001. Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, here said the major eruptions were either vulcanian or strombolian types. Strombolian is characterized by violent eruptions characterized by lava fountaining, pouring out of molten lava, and ejecta of spindle-shaped bombs and porous rocks. The Vulcanian type is eruption resulting from the sudden release of large quantities of accumulated gas which lifts fine ash and blocs from the magma. The eruption occurs with great force ejecting materials high in the air forming voluminous “cauliflower” clouds. Laguerta said, “records show that major eruptions occur in every 7 to 12 years span.” Laguerta said that to detect more refined abnormalities over the volcano they have put up additional three seismographs or geophysical instruments outside of the permanent danger zone in the towns of Guinobatan and Manito, and Tabaco City. APSEMO records indicate that as of 2016 there are still 2,430 families or 10,508 persons living inside the 6PDZ while 4,998 families or 20,428 individuals are residing within the 7PDZ. Mayon volcano remains at Alert Level 1 (abnormal behavior); the public is warned not to enter the restricted 6PDZ. Earthquakes APSEMO, on the recommendation of Phivolcs, advised private and public engineers to design structures that would withstand intensity 8 earthquakes. Disaster funds The Albay disaster council reported that as a pre-disaster mitigating measure, they are pouring in P28M to finance relief assistance and the purchase of emergency transportation such as dump trucks, bulldozers, power generators, communication equipment. Meanwhile, Bichara laments the too much “red tape” of the national government in releasing or downloading rehabilitation funds. He cited the delayed rehabilitation funds from Typhoon Glenda in 2014 which was downloaded only in 2016. “The downloading of funds is hampered by bureaucratic red tapes by disaster agencies for reasons of assessments and revalidations,” Bichara said.