Mock flood drill at the advent of monsoon


July 11th, 2019

Monsoon has approached and flood can occur anytime, which requires actions based on different community contexts, with available flood early warning systems entailing interrelated components of Flood risk knowledge, Risk monitoring, Communication and dissemination of risk information, and Response.

As an institutionalization process 5th June (world environment day) is marked as the advent of monsoon and mock flood exercise day. This year in the lower Karnali basin (Nepal part) where we work; 53 community disaster management committees (CDMC) and associated community people participated in the mock flood drill. The mock flood exercise tests the effectiveness of interrelated flood warning system components, particularly monitoring, communication and response, and the capacity of different actors and community members to take coordinated action to avoid losses by using early warning information during real flood events.

The mock flood scenarios were created by department of hydrology and meteorology (DHM) – DHM displayed mock flood information in its web page, coordinated and communicated to national emergency operation centre, district emergency operation center, chief district officer, and security forces. “Ncell” the private company providing mobile network service disseminated the mock flood information via SMS to communities and local government representatives.

Mock flood message from Department of Hydrology and Meteorology

I was observant at a community of which the CDMC is the steering body for a mock exercise. The Nangapur community has a CDMC comprising 34 members, having different roles within the CDMC outlined as search and rescue task force (5 members), First Aid support task force (5 members), Flood early warning communication task force (5 members), women volunteers (10 members). It was impressive to observe the actions of CDMC and community people. Nangapur CDMC shared the exercise plan with the relevant authorities and organisations accordingly Mayor of Rajapur municipality was one of the esteemed invitees.

As a part of mock flood exercise the CDMC had its meeting and reinforce the roles assigned to different task forces. At 8:00 in the morning a mock message from the gauge station ( Chisapani) and District Emergency operation Center (DEOC) was received by the CDMC. The message indicated that the flood level in the monitoring gauge station is increasing towards warning level. This information interpretation is that a damaging flood is likely to occur. CDMC early warning team focal person made a call to Chisapani station on the information they received and confirmed it was from the upstream gauge station. Immediately after confirming the message from gauge station, CDMC organised an emergency meeting of CDMC and task forces to check on their preparation.

Early warning task force members were active an started informing the community by blowing (sirens) and using speakers to be alert about the coming flood and commanded to start storing belongings, which have to be left at home in a safe place, requested to select things to be moved to a safe location – the emergency safe shelter. Inform family members and prepare livestock for transfer to a safe place. Wait for further updates of the flood situation that will be provided by the relevant task force members. The same message was disseminated by the volunteers of the task force by displaying blue flag and making door to door visits.

After receiving the second message from the Chisapani  station and upon its confirmation, task forces search and rescue, emergency shelter management and first aid took their position to fulfill their responsibilities. Volunteers were prepared with required equipment to support/rescue the most vulnerable, (e.g. the elderly,  children, etc.)

Another task force started blowing warning siren for one minute the first time, and then stopped for one minute followed by another one minute of blowing the siren. This alerts the volunteers that the flood has reached warning level so they can rush to inform the relevant communities accordingly. In this community more than one siren was blown at different places, with messages that people should be ready to move and prepared to be evacuated to the safe shelter. Requesting people to check whether the movable items and belongings are ready and things to be left behind have been placed safely.

After receiving the third message and its confirmation, siren was blown continuously for two minutes and stopped for half a minute. Then again it was blown for another two minutes and stopped for half a minute. This was repeated four times. The task forces search and rescue, first aid task force and volunteers were in actions as assigned.

The EWS task force volunteers were commanding the order to evacuate to a safe place through the designated safe route. Volunteers were visiting door-to-door and using speakers reminding people what to do and how to do it. Search and rescue task force volunteers were assisting the most vulnerable people (who were identified and located in advance). Volunteers were consoling community to be patient and requesting them to follow their guidance to move calmly to safe place and support others in the evacuation. The volunteers were cautious to ensure the communication has reached to the most vulnerable houses, individuals and community and were ensuring people in need of rescue are rescued in time. At the same time other members of the CDMC were communicating flood updates disseminate updates to other communities (particularly downstream) through phone calls and SMS.

Accompanied by volunteers people arrived at the safe shelter with their belongings (boxes, sitting materials on heads), sheep, goats, ox were brought and tied to raise areas. People were getting into the safe shelter following instructions of the CDMC members. People were brought in stretchers, some were being first aided, and elderly people, lactating women and children were brought in with care by the task force members.

Elderly woman assisted

Shelter task forces in coordination with the CDMC counted the head to ensure everyone has arrived and no one is left behind. The CDMC task force members were asking if anything is to be placed safely back home, and assuring that the task force will do for them.

Staging of successful mock flood drill does indicate the pre-requisites of FEWS are in place in the communities we work with.

 

One response to “Mock flood drill at the advent of monsoon”

  1. Emilie Etienne Says:

    Congratulations to the Nepal team! Happy to see how the response team took into account the needs of the most vulnerable.

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