Back up files to prepare for ‘Big One’, says Phivolcs chief

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To prepare for the “Big One” — a potentially catastrophic earthquake — it is crucial to back up files and put the redundancy principle in place.

Photo shows Phivolcs director Renato Solidum. Credit: DOST
Photo shows Phivolcs director Renato Solidum. Credit: DOST

That’s the advice from Dr. Renato U. Solidum Jr., DOST undersecretary for disaster risk management and mitigation and head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on how to keep IT systems working when a big earthquake hits Metro Manila.

“Back up systems or put up mirror sites to secure data and to ensure that critical operations” will continue to function, he said.

The IT operations of businesses and national governments and businesses must be spread out or have back-ups in strategically located sub-offices away from Metro Manila, Solidum said.

He pointed out that since most of the country’s government and business operations are concentrated in the metropolis, the effect on governance and business may be felt nationwide.

“Preparedness must be done at all levels — from community organizations up to the local and national governments,” Solidum said. “Everyone must be involved. There must be immediate backup of systems or mirror sites for data security and other critical operations.”

The last major earthquake that hit Metro Manila killed 268 when an apartment building collapsed; the epicenter of the Magnitude 7.3 quake was in Casiguran, Quezon. The next major shake just might be closer to home, and the consequences will be horrific, he said.

If and when the 10-kilometer East Valley Fault System moves, and generate at least a Magnitude 6.2 temblor, it will spell disaster for the towns of Rodriguez and San Mateo in Rizal, he said.

It will be worse when the 100-km West Valley Fault generates a Magnitude 7.2 tremor.

“The West Valley has moved four times in 1,400 years, in intervals of 400 to 600 years,” Solidum explained, adding that the last major movement occurred about 358 years ago, so it’s likely that it will shift again.

Fire and building damage will be more common in the West Quadrant. More bridges will be damaged in the North and South Quadrants, while more buildings and bridges will go down in the East Quadrant.

The ground movement will affect Dona Remedios Trinidad, Norzagaray and San Jose Del Monte City in Bulacan; Rodriguez in Rizal; Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig, Makati, Taguig and Muntinlupa; the cities of San Pedro, Bi?an, Sta. Rosa, Cabuyao and Calamba in Laguna; and the towns of Carmona, General Mariano Alvarez and Silang in Cavite.

The West Valley Fault traverses central business districts through which major roads pass such as C5, Ortigas Avenue, Marcos Highway, and the South Luzon Expressway. It is also near to the SLEX interchange in Alabang and Susana Heights.

A worst case scenario (Magnitude 7.2 temblor along the West Valley Fault) study conducted by the Japan International Cooperation Agency and Phivolcs show that 12.7 percent of houses, 8 percent to 10 percent of public buildings, 11 percent of 10-30 storey buildings and 2 percent of 30-60 storey structures will be heavily damaged.

The figures indicate that whether an IT system is housed in a home office or in a large computer room, all are potentially at risk from the fury of the Big One.

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