“Project NOAH is our reliable partner to make Marikina a disaster-resilient city.”
This was the closing statement of Dr. Val Barcinal, head of Marikina City’s disaster and risk reduction management office (DRRMO), in his testimonial during Project NOAH’s (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) second anniversary press conference in Quezon City last July 22, 2014.
Launched in July 6, 2012 in Barangay Balubad, Concepcion Uno, Marikina City, Project NOAH was the Department of Science and Technology’s (DOST) response to President Benigno Aquino III’s instruction to put in place a responsive program for disaster prevention and mitigation. Its aim was to provide a 6-hour lead time warning to vulnerable communities against impending floods and use advanced technology to enhance current geo-hazard vulnerability maps. The launch was attended by no less than the President himself.
Being vulnerable to floods and having been inundated by Tropical Storm Ondoy in 2009, Marikina City was targeted as pilot area for Project NOAH.
“You are all aware Marikina City serves as a catch basin of rainwater coming from San Mateo and Montalban, Rizal and the cities of Antipolo and Quezon. During typhoons and heavy monsoon rains, Marikina river overflows, affecting 10,000 residents,” Barcinal narrated. He explained that as much as 90 percent of the city could be inundated in case of extreme flooding.
However, Project NOAH has become a saving grace for the city of Marikina, as stated by Barcinal in the presscon.
From 35 casualties when Ondoy hit the country, Marikina City recorded zero deaths when Habagat inundated the most part of Metro Manila in August 2012, a month after Project NOAH was launched.
The city government attributes their improved disaster preparedness efforts to Project NOAH and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration or PAGASA – another agency under the DOST.
“With the use of internet, critical, reliable, authoritative, understandable and timely information is conveyed to us in the DRRMO,” Barcinal said. “Project NOAH is our most vital operational tool to monitor and track the typhoon.”
Last June 9, 2014, Marikina City also became the pilot recipient of the MOSES (Mobile Operational System for Emergency Services) tablet, an 8-inch Internet-based, two-way communication tool between warning agencies and disaster responders. It can receive real-time weather and flood information from pre-installed mobile applications such as PAGASA, Project NOAH, and ARKO which provides detailed flood maps.
“Preparedness is the key [to minimize the harm of] any disaster. Project NOAH increases our preparedness capacity to render timely, reliable decisions,” Barcinal said.
The two-year-old Project NOAH is set to launch a new version of its website with more data on hazards and disasters with a more user-friendly interface. (S&T Media Service)
The MOSES tablet - an 8-inch Internet-based, two-way communication tool between warning agencies and disaster responders developed by the Department of Science and Technology’s Project NOAH. Aside from its selection as pilot area for Project NOAH, Marikina also became the first recipient of this new tool with 20 tablets handed over to the local government unit. (S&T Media Service)