Cabaero: Coordination required

·2 min read

The need for coordination between the public and private sectors is crucial during an emergency. This was what Cebu learned after super typhoon Ruping; this is what Cebu needs now after super typhoon Odette.

I was a reporter when Ruping hit Cebu on November 12, 1990 and saw how then governor Lito Osmeña, together with other local officials, coordinated all efforts toward restoring power, water, phone service (no internet then). He prioritized electric connections for hospitals, then for news companies because he knew the importance of informing the public of developments. He solicited and got the cooperation of the private sector which were given timetables for restoration of services. Companies were asked to give what they can for Cebuanos. The police did their part in ensuring the security of stores as looting became a last resort for desperate Cebuanos.

This is what Cebu needs now to get back on its feet. If there is no coordinated effort led by local officials, Cebuanos will become twice the victim of this calamity.

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The sound of hammering as roofs are repaired, the whirring of electric cutters to halve fallen trees blocking the roads. This is what Cebu woke up to after super typhoon Odette ravaged the island Thursday night. They are welcome sounds because they meant we are alive.

There’s a saying that it is better to save your life and leave your belongings rather than lose a loved one whenever there is an emergency. People say you can buy replacements for the things you will lose but you can never get back a person who dies in that situation. I always find that saying to be cheeky, the person dishing the advice not knowing what he or she is saying. How can you one say such a thing to other people when replacing things lost is not easy at all?

Last Thursday night, I understood what it meant when I found myself repeating the saying to loved ones at the height of Odette’s assault. Your life is more important than any possession.

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Acts of humanity. There were many of them before, during and after Odette. I applaud the malls that opened for people to seek shelter Thursday night to Friday morning. It showed they truly had the Cebuanos’ welfare in their hearts.

Persons who were caught in the middle of the typhoon were given shelter and clothes. A taxi driver who could no longer travel because of the strong winds was granted shelter and provided a change of clothes after he got drenched. Others who hunkered down inside buildings shared chairs, sofas and pillows with strangers to help ease each other’s discomfort. Buildings offered free charging stations for the public so they could charge their devices and let families know they were safe.

These are acts of humanity displayed by Cebuanos in this difficult time.

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