Bicol braces for floods, landslidesBy Mar S. Arguelles
Inquirer Southern Luzon
LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines—Disaster agencies went on alert here Saturday to better deal with the possibility of floods and landslides as Typhoon Butchoy came closer to the Bicol region although the weather bureau did not expect it to make landfall anywhere in the Philippines.
Butchoy, the second storm to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility this year, has enhanced the southwest monsoon which in turn has been dumping heavy rain on many parts of the Philippine the past week as the weather system intensified from a low pressure area into a typhoon.
The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) was placed under “Code Blue” alert or preparedness status, and relief teams were assembled for quick deployment in case people living in areas prone to flooding, lahar flows or landslides need to be evacuated, said Bernardo Alejandro, regional director of the Office of Civil Defense and chairman of the regional disaster council.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development has stockpiled 2,000 food packs while the Department of Health has placed various government hospitals in the region on “Code White” alert status, Alejandro said.
He said the regional disaster council will be monitoring the flood-prone provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon and landslide-prone towns in Catanduanes, Albay, and Camarines Norte.
The Philippine Army’s 9th Infantry Division has placed on standby 11 trucks for immediate deployment for evacuation purposes.
The Naval Force in Southern Luzon has on standby two Navy vessels docked at the Legazpi port and another vessel docked at San Pascual port in Masbate, Alejandro said.
He said the regional disaster council has also asked the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council to have military aircraft on call in case it is needed for aerial surveys and search-and-rescue operations. The request was for two standby helicopters at Villamor Airbase and a fixed-wing plane at Sangley Point in Cavite.
The regional council also directed the Philippine Coast Guard to enforce a “no sailing and fishing” rule in the face of a gale warning that ordered a suspension of maritime activities of vessels with gross tonnage of 35 and below.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services, in its 10 a.m. bulletin Saturday, said Typhoon Butchoy was located 470 kilometers east northeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar, with maximum winds of 120 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 150 kph. It was moving north northwest at 15 kph.
Pagasa director for Bicol Redrico Dalida said light to heavy rainfall of about 7 millimeters per hour (mm/hr) was expected to affect Sorsogon on Saturday.
Dalida said northern Catanduanes will experience heavy rains of 13 millimeters per hour while Albay will experience light rain of 2mm/hr.