Heightened alert raised over Cebu
Northern Cebu was identified as one of several areas to be affected by the arrival of typhoon “Pablo” which the state weather agency Pagasa projected will make landfall tomorrow morning.
“I repeat, the areas to be affected include Bohol province specifically Tagbilaran City, Cebu up to Bantayan Island, northern Negros (four cities), Capiz up to Silang Roxas City, Boracay, Mindoro,” said National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Benito Ramos.
Ramos said “Pablo” will hit Negros tomorrow morning with maximum winds of 185kph and gusty winds of up to 240 kph.
Aside from strong winds, Pablo could bring slight to heavy rains (5 – 200 mm) in the outer band of the typhoon. Up to 300 mm of rainfall can be dumped near the center of Pablo.
Coastal storm surges of 4 – 5.5 meters can also occur.
A blue alert or heightened alert status was raised over Central Visayas in yesterday’s emergency meeting by disaster management agencies.
“Based on Pagasa’s analysis of the tropical cyclone, it is getting stronger and it is huge that it can hit Central Visayas,” said Regional Director Minda Morante of the Office of Civil Defense in Central Visayas (OCD-7).
Morante, also concurrent Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) chairperson, said weather analysis showed there is a 75 percent probability that Cebu and the rest of the region will be affected by the storm.
Pagasa Mactan Chief Oscar Tabada said tropical storm Pablo was expected to enter the country last night.
He said “Pablo” was moving 22 kph west-northwest towards Visayas, resulting in heavy rain and thunderstorms tomorrow until the rest of the week.
Tabada said “Pablo” will make landfall tomorrow night or Wednesday morning.
As of 9:00 p.m. last night, Pagasa tracked the eye of typhoon at 820 km Southeast of Hinatuan,Surigao Del Sur (bearing: 06.4°N 134.2°E)
Pablo packs wind speed strengthened to 185 kilometers per hour from 165 kph, nearing the super storm category of 220 kph.
Pagasa projects that the storm will move west northwest at 22 kph.
Morante reminded local officials to ready contingency measures in order to avoid deaths and reduce property damage.
“We have to be ready. We have to consider the lead time to warn and inform the public through the local government units,” Morante told reporters.
She said Cebu local governments should be prepared to deal with emergencies if the weather worsens.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB-7) also called on affected towns and cities to refer to their hazard maps to identify landslide and flood prone areas.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development in Central Visayas (DSWD-7) said it already prepared 2,000 family packs of relief goods while the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) have readied their dump trucks for the delivery of goods.
The Cebu Coast Guard is also on standby, Morante said.
Lapu-Lapu City Administrator Teodulfo Ybanez said he reminded barangay officials to tell fisherfolk not to go to sea for a few days.
Interior and Local Governments undersecretary Francisco “Bimbo” Fernandez also called on Cebu local officials to prepare to evacuate the residents in the mountain and coastal barangays.
In Cebu City, Mayor Michael Rama ordered barangay officials to assist in evacuating residents along riverbanks, coastal areas and in flood-prone or low-lying areas.
“Being over-prepared is better than being underprepared,” Rama told reporters.
He also directed barangay officials to activate their respective Barangay Disaster Brigades to monitor their respective areas of responsibility.
“Use your 30 percent Quick Response Fund from the 5 percent Calamity Fund of your barangay if necessary. Emphasis should be on proactive actions: evacuating is better than rescue. Our aim is to have zero casualty,” Rama said.
The public were advised to prepare water, flashlights with batteries, canned goods and raincoats and to trim nearby trees before the storm hits Cebu.
The following contact numbers should be contacted for any untoward incidents: 166 for Police, 160 for Fire and 161 for the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation (ERUF).
Rama said he will meet with the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CDRRMC), headed by operations officer Alvin Santillana today after the city’s flag raising ceremony to discuss preparations.
Mayor Rama also said they still have to determine whether classes will be suspended due to the tropical storm.
The mayor said they will also hold a 5:30 p.m Mass at Cebu City Hall for the successful Calungsod Thanksgiving Mass and to pray for protection for the city from “Pablo’s” wrath. /Fe Marie D. Dumaboc and Joy Cherry Quito, Correspondents with Correspondent Jose Santino S. Bunachita