Every time devastating calamities with widespread damage to properties and human lives occur, the aftermath is the most destructive, sometimes far more devastating than the actual disaster. Here, the sufferings prolong, to the agony of the victims.
The effects to people of the deadly flooding that hit Metro Manila and neighboring provinces provide some examples. During the disaster, the first priority was rescue and retrieval operation of those who were trapped and threatened by mudslides, accumulated debris, fallen structures and trees, and many more. But this effort is hampered by a lot of obstacles and is not then that easy.
Since some victims are in critical condition needing immediate medical attention, the rescuers have to work quickly and carefully. This is rushing against time. This, however, could not just be done easily. Transport is impossible as the streets are flooded like rivers. There is a need for heavy equipments like backhoe to remove heaps of debris and other littering obstacles. But bringing these equipments to flooded areas may not be possible as they will be destroyed.
This makes rescue operations not just slow but impossible unless there are boats to use. And so people have to resort to swimming, removal of fallen trees and posts, and retrieval of bodies floating on deep and strong currents. If they are lucky enough to find people who are just trapped on roofs, rescuers would be faced with another problem especially if the location is far from evacuation centers.
To treat badly-wounded victims, rescuers have to apply first aid, but if there is no sustenance to temporary reliefs, the victims may still succumb to deadly infections and tetanus. Why, the fatally-wounded individuals have to be rushed to hospitals for immediate treatment, but how can it be done when, again, transportation is hampered by deep waters, huge trees fallen across the highways, landslides into road links, and bridges that had collapsed to the ground?
Consequently, in calamities like this, casualties usually rise in number as days pass by even if, at the start, only very few had succumbed to death. Why because, in places that had been rendered inaccessible via land transport, the victims just die for lack and absence of outright treatment. Before they are brought to hospitals, they are already dead. This even if their wounds are treatable enough.
Power outages, the cut-off of potable water supply, the failure of relief goods to reach devastated areas, the communication and media blackout due to severe damage to tower and satellite stations, etc., aggravate the situations and seemingly contribute to the people’s sufferings. Indeed, the aftermaths of calamities prove to be more dreadful and harrowing.
By: Doms Pagliawan
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