Dagupan prepares for the ‘Big One’

THE ‘Big One’ scenario that the Dagupan City government continues to consider is a magnitude 8.2 earthquake that can result in a seven-meter high tsunami waves.

Meliquin Bauzon, head of the city’s Public Alert Response and Management Center (PARMC), said the 1990 earthquake’s 7.8 magnitude gave the city a lot of lessons so a 7.2 magnitude earthquake that could possibly be generated by the Valley Fault, has the city more prepared.

The 7.8 magnitude earthquake in 1990 was triggered by the Digdig Fault in Rizal, Nueva Ecija.

She said PARMC already acquired the modern Rapid Earthquake Damage Assessment System (REDAS) software from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

She said REDAS made it possible for PARMC, “we were able to simulate how strong the earthquake could be, the time it struck, its location and allowed them to train people how to respond and activate the early warning system.”

Redas, she said, produces hazard and risk maps before and immediately after an earthquake as well as generate seismic hazard maps like ground shaking, liquefaction, earthquake-induced landslides and tsunami, which are available to responders and decision-makers.

She said at least 500 plus high-rise buildings and houses as refuge centers in the event of a high-magnitude earthquake could generate a tsunami.

At the same time, the city government is now building a three-storey evacuation center in the island village of Salapingao.

Nic Melecio, a consultant of the city government, confirmed that the preparations are actually for the anticipated movement of the Manila Trench, which is only 100 kilometers offshore from Bolinao.

He believes a possible 8.2 magnitude quake will be triggered by Manila Trench, a scenario that can cause a seven-meter tsunami that could hit coastal areas of Pangasinan.

Melecio claims that if magnitude 8.2 earthquake hits the city, residents of Dagupan only have 14 minutes. to run to the nearest PHECs or evacuation center before the tsunami waves hit the shoreline.

But with the installation of intensity meters in Bolinao, Lingayen and Dagupan, he surmised residents can have five to eight minutes more.

The PARMC office is on alert 24/7 and maintains three skeleton staff on evenings and Sundays. (Leonardo Micua)