As we near the end of June, rains are already becoming more frequent than usual and while most of us can only be thankful for the bit of cool amidst the sweltering heat, we can already expect the adverse effects of La Niña come the second half of the year.
Read on for ideas on how you could prepare for the El Niño’s vicious twin.
El Niño weakens, La Niña beckons
According to Accuweather online, La Niña, which is the direct opposite of El Niño, happens when sea surface temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean drop to lower-than-normal levels. The cooling of this area of water near the equator usually unfolds during the second half of the year and yields impacts around the globe.
With some 19 typhoons expected to hit the country from July to October and the 75 percent possibility that La Niña may well extend to the first quarter of 2017, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) has advised the public to gear up for heavy rains when the weather phenomenon sets in.
La Niña is set to affect water resources, food, agriculture, health and the environment. Extreme events like floods and landslides have also been associated with La Niña.
Senator Loren Legarda, chair of the Senate committees on climate change and finance, has urged the government to immediately and effectively gear up for the said weather phenomenon by utilizing funds for disaster preparedness and climate adaptation.
Legarda also emphasized that communities in land-slide prone areas should already have been relocated not only because of the impending La Niña but because these areas should not be inhabited in the first place.
Other steps that government agencies should have started undertaking by now to avoid flooding include desilting and cleaning of rivers, canals and drainage systems and tree planting.
Likewise, the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has also called for LGUs to coordinate closely with their respective Local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils to prepare a La Niña Action plan, as well as implement the early preparedness actions listed in the Operation Listo Manuals which cite disaster preparedness minimum standards before, during and after a disaster.
The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) has also begun preparing for the effects of La Niña in Metro Manila by focusing on the 85 flood-prone areas in the metro – clearing waterways and making sure that all of its flood pumping stations are working, said MMDA Chairman Emerson Carlos.
Farmers from all over the country have also been advised to undertake preparatory measures for La Niña after the historic, prolonged drought brought by El Niño. For one, farmers in Pangasinan were encouraged to use “smart” varieties of palay “such as the submarine and floating types,” said provincial agriculturist Dalisay Moya. Irrigation canals should also be closely monitored.
Preparing for La Niña
As the government strives to do its part in preparing for La Niña, you too should take an active role in planning ahead in order to minimize losses in your home and more importantly, ensure your family’s safety. Here are some ideas on how you could do so:
- Safeguard your possessions. Gather all important documents in a waterproof bag for easy retrieval. Include a copy of your insurance policies with your agent’s contact information, a household inventory that keeps record of all major household items and valuables and copies of all other critical documents.
- Prepare your house. Make sure your water pump is working properly (you may also install a battery-operated back-up just in case). Clear debris from gutters, raise your electrical components and water heaters at least 12 inches above your home’s projected flood elevation, and move furniture, valuables and important documents to a safe place. Should you be forced to leave your home, switch off your electricity supply.
- Devise a family emergency plan. Create a safety kit with drinking water, canned food, first aid, blankets, a radio, a flashlight and a copy of emergency telephone numbers. Plan and practice a flood evacuation route with your family and find out safe routes from home, work and school that are o higher ground.
- Be attuned to your inner Macgyver. Identify things that float which can be used to assist you in your evacuation and prepare ropes which can be tied around the waist of children to prevent them from being separated from you.
Everybody is at risk. Floods can occur almost anywhere so it is best to always be on guard and to maintain presence of mind when the dreaded thing happens.