Another metrowide earthquake drill will be conducted by the Metro Manila Development Authority next month and motorists as well as commuters will do well to brace for traffic along Epifanio de los Santos Avenue and other major roads.
One of the scenarios to be simulated during the drill is the collapse of Guadalupe Bridge along Edsa in Makati City and the quick arrival of rescuers at the site to save the victims from drowning while others scour the water for survivors.
“Imagine the Guadalupe Bridge collapsing with several people plunging into the Pasig River below as a magnitude-7.2 earthquake jolts Metro Manila,” said lawyer Emerson Carlos, chairman of the MMDA, who initiated the event, which aimed to prepare the people in the event a big one hits the metropolis.
Carlos said the June 22 shake drill which will start at 9 a.m. will test the effectiveness of the Oplan Metro Yakal Plus, the government’s disaster contingency plan.
“With the success of the first Metro Manila Shake Drill last year, we would like to challenge ourselves to do better and be better prepared in the event of a catastrophic earthquake,” said Carlos during a meeting with various religious groups last Wednesday.
Carlos said the drill would also be an opportunity for government agencies and private rescue groups to fine-tune the protocols in the disaster response plan.
During the simulation of the Guadalupe Bridge collapse scenarios, the MMDA chief said traffic on the outermost northbound lane of Edsa will be in a standstill for approximately an hour.
“So this early, we are appealing to motorists and the riding public to please bear with us. This drill is meant to save lives in the event of the ‘Big One’,” he said as one of the assumptions during a strong earthquake hitting the metropolis would immobilize 70 percent manpower and equipment for disaster response.
Carlos said that MMDA will be permanently placing 20-foot container vans in the four quadrants in Metro Manila where command and control centers will be set up to facilitate the deployment of resources and rescue personnel.
At present, the East Quadrant command center is located at LRT-2 train depot in Santolan, Pasig City; North Quadrant at the Veterans’ Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City; South Quadrant at Villamor Airbase in Pasay City; and West Quadrant at the Intramuros Golf Course in Manila.
The vans, which will be guarded 24/7 by MMDA personnel, contain medicines, extrication equipment, tents and other materials needed for rescue and emergency response, said Carlos, who reiterated that the quadrants are not evacuation sites.
He called on those who will be participating in this year’s shake drill to identify an open space safe enough serve as evacuation centers.
“Last year, we were overwhelmed because many had flocked to the command centers, thinking these are evacuation centers,” Carlos said.
The provincial governments of Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan also expressed intention to participate in the event.