Emergency architects to the rescue
October 4, 2018 | By: News first published in The Manila Times last October 3, 2018 issue
Several areas in Northern Luzon were heavily damaged by typhoon Ompong, touted to be as strong as super-typhoon Yolanda that ravaged the country in 2013.
Ilocos, Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Administrative Region bore the brunt of the storm as they were located in its path.
A coordination between the Architectes de l’urgence (Emergency Architects France/EAF) and the United Architects of the Philippines-Emergency Architects (UAP-EA) was made on September 14 as Ompong intensified.
EAF’s Engr. Claudie Delebecque contacted EA’s immediate past chairman Stephanie Gilles to connect with UAP architects in the devastated areas and to accompany EAF’s field personnel Engr. Caroline Aubry to conduct rapid damage assessment.
Such official communication turned into a partnership to respond to the post-disaster needs of local government units (LGUs) in Northern Luzon.
Timely and significant liaisons with key persons were established by Arch. Tessa Espinas-Salinas, External Affairs and Linkages head of UAP-EA and current EA chaiman Jose Miranda.
The UAP chapter presidents — Arch. Michelle Furuya (Cagayan Valley); Arch. Venelo L. Taguinod (Isabela-Sierra Madre) — and current VP for Operations Tristan James “TJ” A. Flores, and District A1b director Arch. Carlos R. Salvador, Jr. were reached out and they rallied behind UAP-EA’s advocacy.
The efforts were reported to UAP National President Arch. Benjamin K. Panganiban who has been monitoring the operations for possible further action from the national board.
An ad hoc contingency was created and instantly deployed up north to facilitate the RDA and to survey the extent of the physical damage in heavily affected areas.
The UAP-EA delegation was represented by Arch. Eric Benitez, Field Assessment Cluster head, and Frank Urcia, Deputy Facilities Cluster head. They were joined by Aubry who just arrived from her assignment in Nepal.
The mobile RDA team ventured on a four-day journey to visit and conduct assessments in Laoag City, Ilocos Sur, Tuguegarao City, Baggao, and Gattaran, Cagayan.
Upon reaching Laoag City, the troop of EAs touched base with Arch. Jay B. Ramirez, chapter president of Laoag City.
On the following day, a meeting was set up with Dr. Melvin Medel D. Manuel, head of the Laoag City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC), who helped provide valuable inputs for the RDA report.
Baggao was the last leg of the post-disaster RDA expedition also participated by local architects Michelle Furuya and Jun Canlas who hail from Cagayan Valley. The coastal town was the worst-hit municipality being the recipient of Ompong’s fierce landfall.
Severe damages to private properties, agriculture and public utilities were noted in the RDA.
The RDA team and several UAP-EA committee members formally convened on September 20 at the UAP headquarters in Quezon City to facilitate a debriefing and group discussion for post-disaster assistance and strategy planning.
The meeting was co-presided by Chairman Arch. Jose Miranda and Gilles who also met earlier that day with UAP Secretary General Arch. Ronnie Yumang to align and harmonize efforts to mobilize UAP members for post-disaster assistance to affected areas.
Further steps to be taken by the UAP-EA include the conduct of an advocacy caravan in North Luzon to capacitate skilled people in the areas of disaster response, disaster resilience and community rebuilding, and establishing stronger connections in the sphere of humanitarian work.