Text messages aid rescue workers, save lives
PILI, Camarines Sur — With the efficiency of cellphones to connect people, text messages have proven to be very helpful means of communication during calamities to aid rescue workers and save lives during typhoons.
Lucena Bermeo, secretariat head of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) in Camarines Sur, said text messages sent to them by their community-based network of volunteers at the height of flooding in the Rinconada district have guided rescue workers to people isolated by floods or missing at sea since Monday night.
“I received at past 10 p.m. on July 25 a text message that a certain Eduardo and Nenita Rull were trapped at the roof of high school’s staff house in San Miguel, Nabua, Camarines Sur. Responding to the message of distress, we immediately sent rescue workers and save them,” Bermeo said.
She revealed that in the same town, another message of distress was sent to her involving six members of De la Torre family who were immediately rescued from their flooded house.
Bermeo said it was not only people in distress who made use of text messages to alert people but they themselves made use of it for faster coordination with disaster officials in other provinces.
She narrated that when they received a report that one fisherman was missing in Caramoan she directed personnel from PDRRMC to send text messages to barangay (village) officials in the coastal areas regarding the incident.
Bermeo said that in less than 12 hours the barangay captain of Tamiawon, Garchitorena, Camarines Sur was able to locate the missing fisherman who was forced to dock at the village because of very rough seas.
“Then, we received report from action officer Neil Dianela that three fishermen from Garchitorena have been missing since Monday night. I likewise reported the incident to the Office of Civil Defense and coordinated through call and text messages with the PDRRMC in Catanduanes,” she said.
Bermeo said that on Tuesday, the PDRRMC of Catanduanes immediately notified them of three fishermen rescued in Baldoc, Pandan, Catanduanes with the same names and description that they provided.
She identified the rescued fishermen from Garchitorena as Romeo Rodena, 58, Allan Camana, 38, and Nestor Aquino, 57.
Bermeo said the PDRRMC of Catanduanes was advised to give refuge to Rodena, Camana and Aquino until their return to Camarines Sur through regular commercial sea vessel plying to Tabaco City.
In Balatan, the PDRRM of Camarines Sur had also been aided through text messages of the isolation of Barangay Luluwan, Balatan, Camarines Sur because the access road had been underwater.
“There was no food while some 200 evacuees were waiting for relief assistance. Since we cannot immediately respond with our physical presence, we asked the barangay captain to negotiate with a store there so that families could eat. Through the cellphone, we were able to provide them with food because we were able to talk to the store owner that the provincial government will pay for goods the families to consume,” Bermeo said.
Governor Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte Jr. also disclosed that through text messages sent to him he was told of an impending rock slide that would have endangered the lives of the villagers whose houses faced a rocky hill in landslide-prone Barangay Sta. Rosa Del Sur of Pasacao, Camarines Sur.
Villafuerte said he did not lose time to order forced evacuation and secured 51 families to the evacuation center far from the danger zone.
He said the timely rescue operations of families in distress due to flooding and close coordination with the Army and the Philippine National Red Cross have prevented deaths due to the typhoon.
Villafuerte said the lone casualty of Typhoon Juaning in Camarines Sur died because of heart attack not because of the flood.
He said that as of Thursday 33,067 families in 206 villages in 28 towns were affected by the flooding of which 5,976 individuals are still housed in evacuation centers