13 August 2012

SBMA teams join rescue and relief operations in flood areas

The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority’s Fire and Rescue team once again braved torrential rains and rising floodwaters to do what it does best – saving lives and rescuing people from danger and calamity.

Responding to calls for assistance, this time from the onslaught of “habagat”, or the southwest monsoon, SBMA fire chief Ranny Magno deployed the first Fire and Rescue team to the flood-stricken area of Orion, Bataan, as early as Monday (August 6) night.

“From then on, there was no rest for everyone, as four other teams were dispatched on the following day to Olongapo City, including Barangays Mabayuhan and Sta. Rita, which were the worst hit in the city; and also to Dinalupihan, Bataan; and Subic town, Zambales”, he said.

Using a 6x6 military truck lent by Subic Freeport locator United Auctioneer, the group was able to rescue 249 individuals.

Magno also added that the first team that was sent to Orion proceeded to Hermosa, which was totally flooded, before making its way back to the free port on August 8. “By nighttime, all our teams had already returned safely from their respective missions but clearing work in Olongapo awaited them,” he mentioned.

When the floodwaters started receding, the SBMA team began helping out in flushing operations in the city to clear schools and public buildings of mud and other debris. Among the first areas the SBMA cleared were Columban College and the Olongapo City Library.

According to SBMA chairman and administrator Roberto Garcia, the agency also opened the Subic Bay Exhibition and Convention Center and the Subic Gym for residents who had to evacuate their flooded homes.

In the meantime, a relief drive was initiated by the SBMA’s Public Relations and Tourism Departments. In coordination with local government units, emergency food supplies from employees, business locators and residents here were distributed to evacuees at the Sta. Rita Elementary School, Sta. Rita National High School, and Tabacuhan Elementary School in Olongapo City.

In Bataan, the SBMA also delivered a total of 660 bags of relief goods to the municipalities of Hermosa and Dinalupihan.

“We shall continue to help in relief operations for families who are still in various evacuation centers in Olongapo City and Bataan, and our rescue teams will also be active in helping clear flood-affected areas,” Garcia also said.

Garcia noted that the past week saw Subic’s 20-year tradition of volunteerism and civic-mindedness in action, as he thanked everyone for donating to the flood victims and commended Magno and his team for their passion to help
“We have one of the best, if not, the best group around,” he added, referring to several recognitions that the team had received in the past years.

These awards include a Gawad Kalasag award, “recognizing excellence on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, and Humanitarian Assistance”, which the team received in 2009 from National Defense secretary and National Disaster Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) chairman Voltaire Gazmin who cited the "extraordinary courage, heroism and self-sacrifice" shown by the SBMA Fire and Rescue Group in times of emergencies and disasters”.

“We’re doing this not for public recognition but for humanity. We’d like to consider ourselves as SBMA ambassadors in the field of public service,” Magno said. (RAV/MPD-SBMA)