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More rooms in evac areas needed for safe distancing

As the country battles the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic, local government units (LGU) in Albay are facing challenges in their preparations as Tropical Depression (TD) “Ambo” approaches.

In Tiwi town in Albay, Manuel Damo, Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management officer, said that evacuating families at risk of landslide, flooding, and strong winds is proving to be a challenge to them, considering Covid-19 threats are present.

Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management chief Cedric Daep, said that they have advised LGU to limit the number of families per room in evacuation centers so that safe distancing protocols against Covid-19 are still observed.

Damo said that because of this, they may need to double the number of evacuation centers than usual. “We have to limit the number of people in the evacuation centers. Preferably, each room should be confined to the closest members of the family,” Damo said.

He said that the number of schools used as evacuation centers in Tiwi is enough for the number of evacuees, but “we just need to coordinate early with the school heads.”

Damo said that for the logistics of the families that should be evacuated, they have to rely on the slowly depleting budget under the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF).

In Tiwi, instead of trucks or other transport vehicles, the local government hires jeepneys during pre-emptive evacuations.

“As an adjustment, they passengers (evacuees) should also have social distancing. That is another challenge,” he said.

Damo said that aside from safe distancing, evacuees will be told to wear face masks, and soap and alcohol will be provided for the evacuation centers.

Evacuation of residents in high-risk areas in Tiwi town will start 24 hours before TD Ambo is expected to make landfall.

However, Damo said, if the weather disturbance would make landfall at night, residents would be evacuated 36 hours before the expected landfall.

“Evacuation will always be done during daytime,” he said.

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