imyeyes-banner-sqIn My EyesBy Edward B. Antonio

Be forewarned and forearmed

The flood months are coming over, fellas.

Be, therefore, forewarned and forearmed.

Before they strike us as in previous years, it’s time once more to fix things before the typhoons fix us. We learn when it’s already too late.

Flooding is the most common natural disaster and can occur anywhere. Flooding can be localized in a particular neighborhood or widespread, affecting entire cities or large portions of states and territories. Floods can develop over a period of days, giving you adequate time to prepare; however, flash floods can develop in a matter of minutes. Flash flood waters can be caused by heavy rain, river overflows or dam failures. Rushing flood waters can be deeper and stronger than they look. These waters are also destructive and can carry debris, rocks and mud.

Manila and suburbs are always flooded, and so with the low-lying provinces in Visayas and Mindanao.The early rainy months have struck Mindanao catching the people unprepared for the floods. Typhoons and floods are the most common calamities in our country, hence the creation of the DRRMC (Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council) in every municipality and even in schools.

In schools, a yearly DRRM briefing is done to warn students, parents and teachers of the coming rainy days.

Here are some safety tips to prepare for rising water—and what to do once a flood has begun.

Before a Flood

Avoid building in a floodplain.

Stay informed and know flood terminology such as:

Flood Watch—Flooding is possible. Stay tuned to radio or TV for more information.

Flash Flood Watch—Flash flooding is possible. Stay tuned to radio or TV for more information. Be prepared to move to higher ground.

Flood Warning—Flooding is currently occurring or will occur soon. Listen for further instructions. If told to evacuate, do so immediately.

Flash Flood Warning—Flash flooding is currently occurring or will occur soon. Seek higher ground on foot immediately.

Construct barriers (sand bags, beams, floodwalls) to stop floodwater from entering your home.

Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.

If a flood is likely in your area, listen to the radio or television for information.

Know the difference between a flood watch and a flood warning. A watch means flooding is possible. A warning means flooding is occurring or will occur soon.

When a Flood is Imminent

Be prepared! Pack a bag with important items in case you need to evacuate. Don’t forget to include needed medications.

If advised to evacuate your home, do so immediately.

If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground.

If possible, bring in outdoor furniture and move essential items to an upper floor.

Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances.

During a Flood

Do not walk through moving water. As little as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of moving water can make you fall.

If you have to walk in water, wherever possible, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.

Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.

Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.

After a Flood

Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.

Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.

Avoid moving water.

Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.

Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.

Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.

Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.

Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.

Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.

We may not avoid floods, fellas, but we can minimize the damages they bring if we are ready.    

Be careful also of snakes coming out of their flooded holes, fellas.

They seek shelter in houses and high areas. Last year, a flooded house in Nueva Ecija became the shelter of venomous snakes trying to survive the flood. They curled all over the bedrooms and rafters.

When Typhoon Feria struck Ilocos Sur many years ago, it did not only destroy Quirino Bridge. It also submerged a lot of barangays. The province was prepared for the typhoon but when it made a U-turn after it exited to the West Philippine Sea, the province suffered its worst flood and destruction ever.

Let’s get prepared, then, fellas.

Now.