DINAGAT ISLANDS COME OUT NEARLY UNSCATHED IN AURING’S AFTERMATH
by Jeffrey CrisostomoPhotos by Dinagat Islands Provincial Information Office
Early preparation, close coordination among government offices and stakeholders, and active community participation were the key components of the successful response of Dinagat Islands to Tropical Cyclone Auring.
As early as Thursday last week, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) headed by Governor Kaka Bag-ao already activated the island province’s safety protocols to brace for the impact of Auring.
Bag-ao met with provincial government departments and national line agencies ahead of the entry of the cyclone in the province. Through the PDRRMC, Bag-ao and heads of different offices coordinated with the municipal and barangay local government units to ensure a strong and unified response to the coming disaster.
Throughout the weekend, Dinagat Islands was battered by heavy rains and strong winds. At that time, Auring reached Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 2, but eventually slipped back to Signal No. 1 on Sunday night. The red rainfall warning was also downgraded to yellow and was subsequently terminated. As of 11:00 AM of February 22 (Monday), the Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal in Dinagat Islands was lifted by PAGASA.
“Through the vigilance and active involvement of the people in our communities, we were able to emerge almost unscathed in the aftermath of the storm,” Bag-ao said.
No casualties or major structural damages were reported in the seven municipalities of the province. The cost of damages in the agri-fisheries sector, based on initial reports, amount to a little above PhP 600,000.
“We thank our citizens, our DRRM, health, safety, and information personnel across all levels of government, from the province to the barangay, including those in national line agencies for being part of our harmonized response — in our early preparations, close monitoring and coordination with communities, pre-emptive evacuation and relief initiatives, and all other actions that contributed to our collective efforts,” she added.
Prior to the arrival of Auring, the municipal LGUs already conducted pre-emptive evacuation and relief drives, especially in areas prone to floods, landslides, and storm surges.
When Auring’s effects were felt in the island province, the Provincial Government’s disaster response and public safety personnel manned the Provincial Emergency Operations Center to monitor developments. Its information and communications arm also maintained social media advisories and continuous radio and television broadcasts to raise community awareness about Auring and its possible effects, as well as to relay regular updates from PAGASA and the PDRRMC.
“This may have been the first calamity we faced in a long while, but our DRRM networks and systems have shown how formidable they are in facing Auring. We also introduced further innovations in our response efforts — regular mapping of evacuations in flood, landslide, and storm surge prone communities through the efforts of our Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, as well as initiatives to maximize all our media platforms, from television and radio to social media,” Bag-ao said.
“In the end, to ensure that disasters will not lead to the loss of lives or property, everyone must work together — citizens and government — in ensuring people-centric, rights-based, and evidence-informed approaches. In the midst of Auring, we did all these with our COVID-19 protocols still in place. That is our strength in Dinagat Islands, which is why we can face any storm or even a pandemic while continuing to stand with dignity,” Bag-ao ended.