How German Technology can Contain PH Flood Disasters

Andreas Klippe Comments November 27, 2020

Inquirer Newspaper
Dr. Andreas Klippe’s article was published on Philippine Daily Inquirer’s November 23, 2020 issue, as well as to The MAP Memo’s November 24, 2020 issue.

The world is drowning. While it still continues to battle with a global pandemic, yet another calamity has literally drowned several parts of Asia and America. In the beginning of November 2020, Typhoon Rolly, called Goni internationally, affected some areas of the Philippines. The biggest impact was experienced in the Bicol region. A week after, as the Filipinos started rebuilding their lives and livelihoods, they were battered again by another storm, the Typhoon Ulysses, international name Vamco. Ulysses, after affecting eight regions in the country, went straight to Vietnam, damaging everything that gets on its way. This situation is not unique to Asia, though. Reports show that Hurricane Iota which pummeled Central America has brought heavy rain, extreme winds and storm surges over the region. Iota is recorded as the 30th hurricane to cross the region.

Why is this happening? Of course, we know why. For years, experts around the world rally around climate change as one of the major contributors to the increased frequency and intensity of tropical storms. The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, based in Arlington, Virginia, notes that warmer sea surface temperatures could intensify tropical storm wind speeds and deliver severe damage upon its landfall.

In 2020, the world has been battling a global pandemic and several natural disasters

We must admit that these storms and the flooding that they bring are a big problem. Actually to say that it is “big” is an understatement. It is a serious predicament, an encompassing one, affecting many.

All flooded, rich and poor

Flood troubles us all: the poor, the rich, and everyone in between. There are four major places that flood can intrude: 1) residences; 2) factories; 3) commercial buildings; 4) governmental buildings and areas. These structures have entrances that play an important role in flood prevention. During typhoons, flood water can enter through doors, gates, windows, drainage systems, and pipes; hence, they have to be closed. But how do we close them, you ask? Through temporary “walls”. I call these “walls” flood barriers. These barriers are cost-effective and can be demountable or moving. They can be dropped-down, flipped-up, raised up with or without electricity. For over 30 years, these barriers have been making a name worldwide as the best solution for flooding, starting their success story in Limburg, Germany.

So what can these flood barriers protect that I talk about them with pride? A lot.

Intermittent rains and typhoons can cause flooding in many places

House owners’ safety

Data from the Office of Coordination and Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) show that around 183,000 houses were damaged or destroyed during Typhoon Rolly in the Philippines. As a house owner, you can protect your main door, back door, or garage with demountable flood barriers. There are economical reasons for doing such: first, this kind of barrier is cheaper than the automatic ones and second, these will spare you from the tedious work of repeatedly repairing your house after a major flood. A reasonable protection cost may start from PHP 80,000 and can go up depending on the scope of your property. Before you gasp in horror and conclude that this is expensive, think of the money, time, and energy you can spare from securing your house with flood barriers. You do not have to fix the mess again and again and again every time it is damaged by flood. Making a good investment that will last for the next 50 years is unquestionably practical.

No more Production interruption due to flooding anymore

When there is flooding, production is also interrupted. Once the production is interrupted, it could have a drastic domino effect in the industry. Notice this. Once the production area is flooded, the company cannot produce its products anymore. When there is no supply, it loses customers. With fewer customers, it will not produce a huge volume of products. Fewer products are translated to less profit. And with less profit, fewer taxes are paid. Consequently, the company is not the only one affected by flood damages. Everyone is. To add insult to injury, the company has to spend time repairing and cleaning all the mess caused by the flood. Ask yourself, do you need to experience this? No. While there is no storm, our main task should be to secure our companies with flood protection barriers.

Houses, production sites, businesses can be protected by RS flood barriers

Continuous Business keeps the clients safe and the goods secured

In the past years, the Philippines has opened its doors to tourists. This paved the way for the opening of many hotels, malls, and shops. Far greater than giving jobs to many people, these businesses, big or small, have helped in improving the economy. But what will happen if your shop or hotel is flooded? This is what happens: you lose your customers, you lose your employees, you lose money. To mitigate the loss and save as much as you could, you resort to giving huge discounts to customers. You know for sure that this is not the best path a business owner should take, right? We do business to make money, not lose them.

The same story applies to malls and shops. As the flood enters your premises, your properties, regardless of the price, are not spared. You lose your investments, you lose properties, you lose money. Why do you need to suffer when you can always prevent any of these from happening? All you need are flood barriers that can protect your business so you will not have to lose money.

Government shall protect Critical Infrastructure

Given the seriousness of the flooding situation in the country, we ask: Who should be protected? What should be protected? “The people”, you might say. “No, my school”, says the Grade 3 kid. “My car”, your neighbor says. “The hotel, of course”, the hotel owner says. “My rice warehouse”, “my factory”, “my malls”, say different businessmen.

Everybody needs protection. The civilians and their properties need to be protected.

But aside from these, critical infrastructure should also be protected. What is “CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE”? All installations, systems, and buildings that contribute to the primary operation of a country are considered critical infrastructure. These are jails, police and firefighter stations, power plants and transformer stations, telecommunication units, water stations, pumping stations, hospitals, subways, bus terminals, presidential palace, city halls, schools and universities, local governmental units, and national heritage buildings. Singapore, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland, France — all protect their critical infrastructure. Why not the Philippines?

Power Plants and water pumping stations can also be protected by RS flood barriers

Quality Made in Germany reduces flooding of critical infrastructure

Critical infrastructure can be protected against flood damages with modern flood control technology. These are demountable flood barriers, mobile flood barriers, flood doors and gates, sliding, self-closing, automatic flood barriers, and even permanent glass walls for aesthetic purposes. The material is made of marine-grade aluminum and is lightweight, or of stainless or hot-dipped galvanized steel for special application. Also, it can last for 50 years and longer.

Has it been proven? Yes. With more than 65,000 installed systems in 34 countries since 1990, and with certifications from the US-based FM Global insurance and even from the Philippine DPWH, you know that these spell business.

The technology is proven by 11 nuclear power plants in France, 6 in the United Kingdom, the oldest university in Cork, Ireland, – why is the Philippine UST not simply copying what the University of Cork has done? – the Wall Street Plaza, the PORSCHE headquarters in Stuttgart, and TOP 100 companies like BASF, Nestle, McDonald’s, Porsche, and many more.

In Asia, we should not forget the 20 Singaporean subway stations that are also equipped with this German technology. Doha Education City, headed by Sheikha Moza, the mother of the Emir of Qatar, recently received German flood protection for 12 outstanding buildings in their breathtaking education city, including their National Convention Center.

In the Philippines, SM recently protected two malls in Bacoor and Molino, Cavite. Still, the majority of the country remains hesitant about this. Do not wait too long to protect yourself against flood damages. The next typhoon is yet to come. And another after it.

A safe and a flood free environment starts by investing in quality flood barriers

Solution and conclusion

As people, we only want to live in peace and enjoy every service and infrastructure that our country has to offer. We also want to live in a disaster-free environment with our loved ones. Sadly, the Philippines is still not on this level of security and comfort yet. I do not want to discuss the reasons for this, but I want to emphasize what can be done.

What can we do then? President Kennedy is quoted for his famous saying, “Do not ask what the country can do for you. Ask yourself what you can do for your country”. I would change it a little bit into “what you can do for yourself”? Do not wait for the government to solve your issues. It is just impossible, no matter how good or bad the ruling administration is.

A better life starts when you work for it. Every property or house or building is valuable to the owner and should be protected. Everything that has a value shall be protected. Yours has to be as well, and you may start with the four walls of your home.

House owners can protect their homes, factory managers can protect their manufacturing site and the warehouses, malls and hotels owners can protect their premises. The government can join and start protecting the national critical infrastructure.

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Stay safe and flood free.

Andreas Klippe

About the author

Andreas Klippe is founder of the Asian Center for Flood Control located in Clark Freeport Zone, Philippines.

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