Photo: Lucia being evacuated by the emergency rescue team during a typhoon simulation in Guinob-an Barangay, Philippines.
In the midst of an evacuation, a woman screamed: “Fire! Fire is burning my house! Help!” She shouted loudly, but everyone else were busy evacuating themselves and their family members that no one came to rescue her. When some neighbours approached and urged her to evacuate, she refused because her family were trapped in the house. It took some time until the rescue team arrived and evacuated the woman and her family from the burning house.
Fortunately, this dramatic scene was only an additional scenario in a typhoon simulation. The woman was Lucia Gabion, 71 year old community member of Guinob-an Barangay (village) in the Eastern Visayas Region in the Philippines. Her village was one of the many areas affected by the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan. Her house was damaged, so that now she and her family live in a relocation house built by the municipal government. For Lucia and her community, typhoon is a familiar phenomenon. It frequently happens in their region. But the 2013 Typhoon Haiyan (locally known as Typhoon Yolanda) was devastating. “It was a painful experience. I almost died by the falling debris. We were almost trapped in the collapsed house if we didn’t evacuate just in time,” she told.
Lucia and the community in Barangay Guinob-an are part of the disability-inclusive disaster risk reduction (DiDRR) project by the Center for Disaster Preparedness (CPD) in partnership with Arbeiter-Samariter-Bund (ASB) Indonesia and the Philippines, with support from Aktion Deutschland Hilft. One of the main activities of the project is a typhoon simulation which was held on Friday, April 15 2016. Lucia and several community members were not only participants, but they also played roles scripted by the CDP team. The roles were aimed to examine the preparedness of communities and the related authority in an emergency situation. The drill activity gave an opportunity to community members, including elderly like Lucia and persons with disabilities, the village council and the municipal authority to identify things they need to improve to better prepare themselves in an emergency situation. In Lucia’s case, she had to wait for quite some time before the rescue team arrived. “If that was a real situation, I and my family would not have survived. Thank God it was just a scenario,” Lucia said with a big smile.
To the community in Barangay Guinob-an, this was their first typhoon drill experience. “It was fun and I enjoyed the experience. We have learnt what to do and how to be safe if the Yolanda typhoon ever come again,” Lucia said. She and her neighbours even had an agreement to help each other if an emergency situation ever strikes again.(Rizma Kristiana/edit: Annie Sloman)