250 village leaders hold disaster simulation in Camarines Norte

DAET, Camarines Norte, Nov. 10 (PIA)–Some 250 village leaders gathered recently for a disaster mitigation drill and discussion of simulated emergency scenarios in Mercedes town.

Floreto Dapena, who works in disaster preparedness with the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol, said the “tabletop” exercise aimed at going over contingency plans, early warning systems and evacuation procedures of each of the town’s 26 barangays.

On the other hand, the drill sought to test those plans, policies and procedures, he said.

Dapena said that the twin exercises were “very vital” for barangay officials who serve as government’s frontline responders during calamities.

A town of more than 48,000, Mercedes is vulnerable to natural calamities, he said.

Exercises allowed the villages to work through their emergency response plans, while also building relationships between individuals who would be involved in an actual emergency, he added.

Likewise, the exercises provided opportunity to some support organizations to observe the level of preparedness in Mercedes.

Those who observed came from OCD, Red Cross, United Nations Children’s Fund, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office of Camarines Norte, municipal disaster risk reduction and management councils of Basud and Paracale, and Department of Education.

Mayor Alexander Pajarillo said capability-building trainings given in the last two years to farmers and fisherfolks of Mercedes included disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM).

Pajarillo said it was fortunate the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) came on board.

The third and last phase of what he called “Sustainable and Resilient Agribusiness Management in Mercedes” project will involve tabletop simulation and drill, he said.

Pajarillo said another organization, the Center for Disaster Preparedness, also works in emergency preparedness with the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office. (EAD/RBM/PIA5/Camarines Norte)