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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

News: Zambales OKs early flood warning system

Zambales OKs early flood warning system

By Robert Gonzaga
Central Luzon Desk
First Posted 02:14:00 09/23/2008

IBA, ZAMBALES – This province adopted on Thursday a P1.4-million community-based early warning system being used by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) in the country's flood-prone areas.
Pagasa Director Prisco D. Nilo said the project was the result of "what happened in the Surigao provinces in 2006 when flash floods hit the eastern seaboard of the Philippines, causing great damage to property and loss of life."
Nilo led a ceremonial turnover of the project here.
Zambales is the sixth province in the country to adopt the system among the 13 provinces given priority by Pagasa, the lead agency that addresses the threat of weather disturbances. Because of its location, it is "prone to flash flooding because it is exposed in both the eastern and western seaboards," Nilo said.
Nilo said the warning system was "an attempt to save lives and do what is necessary before a disaster occurs by giving people enough time to prepare and local government agencies to act."
Pagasa plans to install the system and train residents in Ilocos Sur, Cavite, northeastern Samar and Bohol next year.
Dr Susan Espinueva, hydrologist and officer in charge of flood forecasting and warning section, is task leader of the new system.
"After consulting with the local government units and training the observers, what we do next is designate a disaster operation center in the municipality or barangay. At different points scattered throughout the area, we've identified flash flood-prone areas and assigned observers to obtain data that will be sent to the disaster operation center for interpretation," she said.
The most important indicators of an imminent flash flood are rainfall intensity and water-level height which observers should measure every two hours during heavy rains.
Espinueva said the community must know about the system for it to be effective.
Scattered throughout Zambales are 15 electronic rain gauges, three standard rain gauges, alarm systems, a public address system, signs, monitoring boards and the operations manual for observers and operation center personnel.
Gov. Amor Deloso pointed to Mt. Pinatubo as a significant cause of the rise of flash floods in Zambales.