“Prepare buildings to resist big quake”

LAOAG CITY, Feb. 15  – The destructive earthquake that hit Negros Oriental on February 6 has served as a wake-up call to local government officials to review their disaster preparedness plans.
Root said officials of the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council are aware of the city’s vulnerability to earthquakes.  “We cannot predict earthquakes. But what we can do is to have our buildings prepared to withstand strong ground shaking. This is the reason behind the requirements set before one can put up his building,” Laoag City Engr. Ulderito Root said.
Root said the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has installed at least eight testing equipment around Laoag to help monitor ground shaking.
He said most tremors in previous months that hit the city and nearby towns registered mild intensities.
“But this is to remind residents that we need to prepare for the big earthquakes,” he said.
As part of the Laoag City’s information campaign, Mayor Michael Fariñas would remind village officials to alert residents on all kinds of calamities like fires, storms, tsunamis and earthquakes.
The City Engineering Office regularly sends inspection teams to monitor the condition of buildings and structures around the city.
Root said most buildings that have been condemned have been demolished.
He said engineers normally look at indicators of weak structures such as cracks in concrete buildings or weak wood support or pest-infested columns for wooden houses or structures.
The most powerful was 1983 tremor that sent dozens of commercial and residential buildings either collapsing or permanently destroyed.
On August 17, 1983 at 8:18 pm, a powerful earthquake with a magnitude of 6.5 struck Laoag causing heavy damages on structures near the Laoag River.
Root said his office has reminded applicants of building permits to follow the standards set under the building code as a matter of safety procedure. (ANL/CCA-PIA 1 Ilocos Norte)