Betül Yasemin Keskin / Milliyet.com.tr There is an increase in the number of natural disasters brought about by climate change around the world. Turkey has also experienced the pain of the flood disasters that occurred in the Black Sea Region this year. So, what kind of measures should be taken to prevent disasters? Can early warning systems provide adequate protection?
‘EARLY WARNING SYSTEM IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERY DISASTER’
As the early warning system has different models, the warning systems applied for each disaster are also different from each other. Kocaeli University Geophysical Engineering Department faculty member Prof. Dr. Şerif Barış says that the early warning system is very important in meteorological disasters and it is possible to inform the citizens in advance by using this system. Stating that the situation is different for the earthquake, Prof. Dr. Şerif Barış says, “It is not possible to inform citizens with an early warning system before an earthquake occurs.”
Stating that the early warning system was activated after the earthquake, Prof. Dr. Şerif Barış underlines that not all early warning systems are in the same format. Stating that the earthquake-related early warning system is only used by certain organizations, Prof. Dr. Barış says that there is not yet an early warning system technology that informs citizens before an earthquake disaster.
‘IT IS NOT ENOUGH TO PROTECT FULLY FROM FLOOD DISASTER’
Considering the recent flood disasters we have experienced across the country and the loss of life caused by these disasters, the early warning system is a very important system. However, saying that no system provides full protection, Prof. Dr. Şerif Barış emphasizes that the citizen who learns beforehand about the future of the flood can evacuate the area they are in before the disaster occurs, but the important thing is not to choose the places where the flood can occur as a settlement.
‘PURPOSE OF THE SYSTEM IS NOT CITIZENS, BUT TO WARn AUTHORITIES’
Referring to how the current early warning system in Turkey works, Prof. Dr. Şerif Barış says, “The early warning system implemented in Turkey is completely different. For example, the early warning system implemented in Japan is not the same as the model in Turkey. The purpose of the early warning system in Turkey is to inform the authorities first.” prof. Dr. Barış underlines that the early warning system in Japan sends a message with a one-minute difference that there will be a tsunami after an earthquake, and that the citizens are conscious of what to do against this disaster.
‘WE CAN AVOID LOSS OF LIFE AND PROPERTY’
Gazi University Earthquake Engineering Application and Research Center Specialist Assoc. Dr. Bülent Özmen, on the other hand, explains the importance of the early warning system for floods and gives an example of the flood disaster in the Bozkurt district of Kastamonu during the summer months. He says that before the flood disaster in Bozkurt, it is possible to model and calculate the amount of precipitation, predict the intensity of the precipitation and inform the citizens, but it is not possible to protect the structures.
Pointing out that the loss of life and property can be prevented and the amount of damage can be reduced with the early warning system, Assoc. Dr. Bülent Özmen also mentions another type of disaster, the earthquake. He says that the early warning system applied for the earthquake protects against possible fire, natural gas explosion and various secondary disasters that may occur after the earthquake. An early warning system for floods is a system that comes into play for earthquakes after a disaster occurs. It is possible to say that experts share a common view on this subject.
‘EXCESSIVE RAINS WILL BRING FLOOD DISASTERS WITH IT’
Boğaziçi University Climate Change and Policy Studies Center Climate Scientist Prof. Dr Levent Kurnaz emphasizes that the early warning system is important in the possible loss of life and property that will be caused by the frequency of floods and landslides due to climate change.
prof. Dr. Levent Kurnaz says that the best precaution to be taken for disasters is not to be at the point where disasters may occur. Stating that building a house as far away from the creek bed as possible is a suitable method to be protected from floods, Prof. Dr. Kurnaz emphasizes that there will be no need for an early warning system about rising water unless houses are built on the stream beds. He says that the early warning system is of course very important, but the more important thing is to choose the settlements correctly.
‘WARNING HAS BEEN MADE IN EUROPE BUT NOT ATTENTIONED’
One of the events emphasizing the importance of the early warning system took place in Europe last July. It was informed that the early warning system was used in the flood disaster, which deeply affected countries in the west of Europe such as Germany and Belgium. According to the information in the German media, the European Flood Warning System (EFAS) warned both German and Belgian authorities about heavy rains and floods 4 days before the disaster. The European Flood Warning System has largely predicted which areas will be affected by the flooding, highlighting the risk of flooding in the Rhine and Maas rivers in its warning. Despite all the warnings and precautionary measures, the authorities, who think that these warnings are not taken seriously, emphasized the importance of the ‘early warning system’.
The early warning system is an important application for predicting all natural disasters around the world and informing the public. An early warning system developed for natural disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and floods is used in the USA. Using GPS technology and other sensors, scientists detect impending natural disasters. GPS sensors and meteorological devices also detect the possibility of heavy rainfall by examining the humidity in the air. Thus, it is possible to inform the public about the flood disaster based on the data obtained instantly.
‘CITIZENS MUST BE AWARE OF NATURAL DISASTER’
The ‘early warning system’ is very important to inform citizens about all possible natural disasters. However, experts emphasize that before the early warning system, it is more important for citizens to be conscious of the disaster and to know what to do during a disaster. As we have seen in the example of Japan, the efficiency of early warning systems established to inform citizens depends on citizens being conscious of what to do in the disaster process.