New ComVal Topography Map Rushed

MANILA Philippines --- Typhoon "Pablo" devastated some parts of Compostela Valley to such an extent that the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has to rush a new topography map for a safe resettlement.

The DOST has tapped scientists such as geologists and geodetic engineers from mainly the University of the Philippines to analyze and interpret images from Project NOAH and its DREAM-LiDAR 3D mapping equipment.

NOAH is Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards while DREAM, a part of NOAH, stands for Disaster Risk and Exposure for Mitigation program. LiDAR is light detection and ranging being used by DREAM to 3D-mapped the country's 18 major rivers among other geographical features.

Launched last July 6, NOAH is the government's highly-touted state-of-the-art response to the country's chronic disasters designed to save lives, and prevent and mitigate the impact of such disasters.

Last Dec. 13, DOST Secretary Mario Go Montejo dispatched a NOAH team to Compostela Valley (ComVal) to conduct a scientific study on Pablo's destruction.

Complementing the images gathered through Project NOAH are very detailed satellite images of ComVal, particularly hardest-hit New Bataan municipality.

The Manila Bulletin learned this yesterday from Director Raymund Liboro, head of the Science and Technology Information Institute (DOST-STII).

He said "a new topographic map, specifically of New Bataan, is being rushed in time for the January 7 meeting of Task Force Pablo."

Liboro said the objective was to come up with relatively safe areas in New Bataan for the construction of resettlement camps for thousands of flood victims.

He said Montejo presented to President Benigno S. Aquino III last week during a Cabinet meeting the results of the DOST scientific study on New Bataan.

Next week a five-man team will be sent for the ground validation of the NOAH findings, the DOST-STII head said.

"DOST is tapping S&T to determine which are the safe areas for temporary resettlement. DOST is looking at how to help the thousands of displaced families, those who were left there," said Liboro.

For the moment, he said the new topographic map being developed "is specific to Pablo areas."

Pablo slammed New Bataan on Dec. 4, one of the worst hit areas of the province, with houses and every structure flattened to the ground by the extreme weather's rampaging "debris flow."

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) described debris flows "as fast-moving landslides that occur in wide variety of environments throughout the world."

USGS said a debris flow is also known as mudslide, mudflow, lahar, or debris avalanche, which are "common types of fast-moving landslides" that ruin property and snuff out lives "suddenly and unexpectedly."

Pablo's immense rain spawned floods resulting in a debris flow that engulfed New Bataan's Barangay Andap, a combination of "eroded gravel, sand, and boulders from the mountains."

From the images captured from the typhoon areas, Liboro described Pablo's impact as "incredible." He said the "devastation is huge."

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