SURIGAO CITY — As those hit by typhoon “Pablo” try to cope with their situation, even celebrating Christmas on their own little way, those living in high risk areas in Surigao del Norte and Dinagat provinces have been ordered to evacuate as typhoon “Quinta”’s entry triggered moderate rains just hours after Christmas midnight.
In Dinagat, where “Quinta” is expected to make landfall, about 2,000 families have been advised to evacuate to higher ground.
These families live in 65 barangays (villages) across the provinces that are identified as flood and landslide-prone areas, said Inday Roxas, action officer of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council.
“Municipal officials are currently monitoring the hourly weather bulletins and our response teams are on standby,” Roxas said.
“So far, we are only experiencing light to moderate rains and moderate winds as of noon time. But we’re not letting our guards down because previous typhoons that struck Dinagat were typically preceded with this kind of seemingly harmless weather,” Roxas added.
Jun Arpon of the local Pagasa station said “Quinta” is expected to make landfall in Dinagat between 4 p.m. to 12 midnight Tuesday.
“We can consider the time between 4 p.m. today to 12 a.m. as critical hours,” Arpon said.
Surigao del Norte officials, however, are not taking chances, declaring forced evacuation in Siargao and Bucas Grande islands.
At a joint meeting with Surigao City officials earlier Tuesday, Provincial Administrator Premolito Plaza said municipal officials in outlying islands will be instructed to implement forced evacuation of residents in identified hazard zones.
The local officials, along with different government agencies, met to discuss preparedness measures for typhoon “Quinta.”
Manuel Kong, a member of the local disaster council, said authorities are now better equipped to tackle “Quinta” because of the preparations made during the recent super typhoon “Pablo.”
“Although Pablo didn’t hit us as expected, the lessons drawn from the preparations that we organized were valuable,” Kong said.
Although “Quinta” is expected to hit Dinagat Islands, the provincial government of Davao Oriental is still bracing for its effects on the already-devastated towns of Boston, Cateel and Baganga.
Freddie Bendulo, chief of the provincial incident command post based in Mati City, said state weather agency Pagasa has warned of heavy rain in the east coast towns, prompting them to advise residents leaving near rivers and shorelines to move to safer grounds.
“We do not have evacuation centers because schools and gyms were destroyed by ‘Pablo.’ We have advised residents to move away from rivers and shorelines,” Bendulo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.