MANILA, Philippines—Local government executives, and disaster and risk management councils in the Visayas have identified evacuation centers and come up with rescue plans in preparation for the impact of supertyphoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan).
Classes in all levels in Southern Leyte are suspended starting Thursday based on the assessment of local government units, according to Department of Education officer-in-charge Division Superintendent Arthur Isip.
The Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) 7 of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 has alerted the public of possible landslides because of the upcoming typhoon.
MGB-7 Regional Director Loreto B. Alburo also underscored the high probability of landslides in the quake-affected areas of Bohol.
In a statement, MGB-7 said 80 barangays within Cebu province and one city and 13 towns in Bohol, have been found to be highly vulnerable to episodes of ground failure and flood due to the presence of numerous tension cracks in Bohol.
These include the 19 barangays of Cebu City, six in Naga City, 11 in Balamban town, 5 in Toledo City, 1 in Pinamungajan town, 5 in Asturias, 12 in Catmon town, all mountain barangays of Talisay, two in Dumanjug, and 1 in Ronda.
MGB also advised residents in quake-hit Bohol to prepare and take precautions, especially in the areas of Tagbilaran City, Baclayon, Corella, Cortes, Alburquerque, Panglao, Dauis, Loon, Calape, Catigbian, Balilihan, Batuan, Sagbayan, and Carmen.
Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto, in a meeting with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), said they have received a report from Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration that the typhoon would hit the northeastern part of the province.
The typhoon is expected to affect the towns of Pitogo, Alicia, Trinidad and Ubay.
Chatto has suspended classes in all levels on Thursday and Friday. He also suspended work on Friday.
But Chatto expressed concern for Sagbayan and Inabanga towns.
He said most schools in Sagbayan are damaged and the town gymnasium was not structurally sound and therefore, it could not be used as evacuation center.
Chatto also noted that the situation in Inabanga, where a dike had collapsed during the 7.2-magnitude earthquake, would be highly risky.
“If there’s a huge volume of water, the exit of the water is in Inabanga proper,” he said.
The governor said he would ask the town mayor to implement evacuation if needed.
Chatto said they were undertaking the clearing of debris from the earthquake, including those covering the flow of water in canals and the drainage system, especially in Inabanga town.
The governor urged evacuees living in tents to look for stronger structures to shelter them once the storm make landfall.
“Move to the strongest structures in your area,” he added.
Chatto said the governor’s mansion would be the command post for typhoon Yolanda.
In Cebu province and cities, classes have been suspended on Thursday and Friday.
Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza issued separate orders to ensure the safety of the students as preparations for the upcoming typhoon are underway.
Workers at the Cebu provincial capitol will still report for work Thursday pending the assessment of the weather situation. Rama has suspended work at the Cebu City Hall on Friday but a skeleton force will report to provide frontline services.
Typhoon Yolanda was expected to have a wind velocity of 150 kph and gustiness of 160 kph, said Oscar Tabada, head of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration in Mactan, at a meeting presided by Rama and attended by the department heads, the members of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and the Multi-agency Coordinating Team and volunteer groups.
Tabada said the typhoon would be bringing strong winds but not heavy rains.
In Eastern Visayas, the Army and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will be on full alert to be able to respond to emergency situations.
“Starting at 6 a.m. on Thursday, the entire PNP regional headquarters will be in full alert for any eventuality,” said Police Inspector Romuel Nacar, spokesperson of the Philippine National Police (PNP-8).
Chief Supt. Elmer Soria, Eastern Visayas police regional director, also ordered its more than 6,000 policemen in the region to be at their respective local stations to assist the local government units on their preparations on the projected landfall of Yolanda in the region, Nacar said.
Captain Amado Gutierrez, spokesperson of the 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan City, said that they have been placed on full alert and would be ready for deployment to calamity areas.
“Army units in the region are on alert. And we are in touch with regional, provincial, municipal and city disaster risk reduction and management councils,” Gutierrez said.
However, the Department of Education in Eastern Visayas has not suspended classes as of Wednesday.
Southern Leyte Gov. Roger Mercado also mobilized all quick response teams in the province and all the heavy equipment have been placed on standby.
The governor said the Southern Leyte PDRRMC was in a “worst case scenario” incident planning. All possible evacuation areas have been identified and readied, he added.
In Western Visayas, government agencies and disaster management offices have been alerted and activated in preparation for typhoon Yolanda.
The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC-6) held an emergency meeting to update contingency plans and measures.
Rosario Cabrera, RDRRMC chairperson and regional director of the Office of Civil Defense, said the evacuation centers and relief assistance have been prepared for possible evacuation of residents in areas prone to flooding or landslides.
The Department of Public Works and Highways have also been placed on alert for the use of trucks and other heavy equipment for evacuation of possible victims and for the clearing of debris.
On the other hand, Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. on Wednesday said Negros Occidental has gone on “high alert status” as supertyphoon “Yolanda,” which would likely hit the northern part of the province, headed towards the country.
The governor again called on Negrenses to pray that the typhoon change direction and spare Negros Occidental.
A text message circulating in Negros Occidental on Wednesday also contained a prayer to spare the Visayas from the supertyphoon.
The prayer called on God to take control of Yolanda and divert it to the sea.
“We implore You to embrace us, the Bicol and Visayas Region and calm Typhoon Yolanda as you did with your disciples at the middle of the sea,” the prayer said.
(Reports filed by Joey Gabieta, Jani Arnaiz, Nestor Burgos, Doris Bongcac, Carla Gomez, Carmel Loise Matus and Jhunnex Napallacan Inquirer Visayas)