‘Wake-up call to protect the environment’: Cagayan, Isabela seek boosted capabilities, long-term plans after floods

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 16)— The governments of Cagayan and Isabela are seeking long-term solutions and boosted capabilities to combat future calamities, as the provinces recover from devastating floods brought by typhoon Ulysses (international name: Vamco).

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Cagayan Governor Manuel Mamba said the local government was prepared for the upcoming storm, but admitted residents were surprised by the magnitude of the rainfall, given there was no typhoon signal hoisted in the area.

“We should have a medium and long term plan, gusto nating hindi maulit ito (we don’t want this to happen again). We always anticipate this every year, but it’s not as worse as what we had,” Mamba said in an interview with The Source, adding that his province is considered as one of the most disaster-vulnerable areas in the country.

The governor reiterated that the dredging of Cagayan River and the re-greening and regeneration of forests will help address the flooding problems, but it will require the consolidated effort of the entire Cagayan Valley region.

Mamba likewise noted the recent flooding should serve as a wake-up call for the public to start protecting the environment.

Sana nga ito na nga po ‘yung mangigising sa ating lahat dito, including everyone na binabalewala— those who abuse our environment,” the governor said.

[Translation: I hope this will wake us all up, including everyone who abuse our environment.]

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Lessons learned

For his part, Isabela Governor Rodolfo "Rodito" Albano III said enhanced equipment and boosted alert capabilities would be needed in the future to help prepare for typhoons.

In the same program, Albano said that moving forward, the LGU would have to always be on the highest alert level, regardless of the typhoon signal classifications set by weather bureau PAGASA.

“We learned a lesson,” Albano said. “We have to upgrade our equipment, and also our alert capabilities. Hindi na kami aasa doon sa mga alert alert na ganito, na 1 ka lang, 2 ka lang. Kailangan laging on the highest alert na kami ngayon.”

[Translation: We won’t just rely on the alerts, just signal no. 1 or signal no. 2. We always have to be on the highest alert.]

Aside from augmenting current resources, Albano also urged government forces to go after illegal loggers in the mountains in a bid to strengthen forest protection.

Cagayan and Isabela shot to the top trending topics on social media in the past few days as netizens cried for help for residents trapped in their flooded homes.

Mamba said floodwater in Cagayan has started to slowly subside, with relief operations still ongoing for affected residents.