‘Yolanda-level’ preparations under way as typhoon nears
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) is undertaking “Yolanda-level” preparations as Typhoon “Mangkhut” moved toward the northern part of the country.
In Batanes province, village officials have been instructed to distribute ropes to households to be used to tie down roofs in preparation for strong winds. Each household is to get 10 meters of plastic rope.
Mangkhut, to be named “Ompong” when it enters the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) on Wednesday afternoon, may not be as intense as Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) but it continues to gather strength.
Several provinces in northern Luzon, including Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Kalinga, Abra, Ilocos Norte, Batanes and the Babuyan group of islands, began experiencing gusty winds and heavy rain on Tuesday.
As of 3 p.m. on Tuesday, Ompong was packing winds of 185 kilometers per hour and gusts of 225 kph, and was barreling westward toward northern Luzon at a speed of 30 kph, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
Cagayan, Batanes landfall
“We continue to warn the public that the typhoon would be destructive, as it has a relatively wide coverage and an evident eye,” Pagasa weather specialist Aldzar Aurelio said in a Facebook live video update.
Ompong is expected to make landfall in Cagayan and the Batanes group of islands, and will bring stormy weather to the whole of northern and central Luzon on Thursday and Friday, Aurelio said.
Pagasa is set to raise Storm Signal No. 1 in northern and central Luzon on Wednesday night. The approaching typhoon will enhance the effect of the southwest monsoon, it said.
The Armed Forces’ Northern Luzon Command (Nolcom) has placed on red alert its troops and reservists for humanitarian assistance and disaster response.
For its part, the Philippine Coast Guard has alerted its districts and stations in northern and Central Luzon to ensure the readiness of all assets and personnel for emergency situations.
Office of Civil Defense Administrator Ricardo Jalad wanted preparations to be at the level of Yolanda, NDRRMC spokesperson Edgar Posadas said at a press conference on Tuesday.
“We have learned a lot after Yolanda. It does not mean that Mangkhut is the same level as Yolanda but anything can happen because it’s gaining intensity as it draws near the PAR,” Posadas said.
Posadas said representatives of telecommunications companies and the National Electrification Administration (NEA) were present at the disaster risk assessment conference on Monday.
He pointed out that the NEA had drafted a plan for power outages, including the provision of artificial power sources, while the telecommunications firms had committed to provide communications on wheels.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has set aside P1.7 billion as standby fund and has prepositioned relief goods in strategic areas.
The DSWD said national reserves, both in personnel and equipment, had also been prepositioned at the Clark and Cauayan airports.
Preemptive evacuation may be undertaken in some areas, according to the NDRRMC.
In undertaking Yolanda-level preparations, Posadas said redundancy was the main focus.
He explained that the layer of disaster response started from the barangay up to the national government. “If one fails, the other steps in.”
Nolcom helicopters and Navy vessels have been also placed on standby, Maj. Ericson Bulosan, the command’s acting public information chief, said on Tuesday.
Residents of coastal villages, which were swamped by floods due to the monsoon rains last month, have been advised to strengthen their houses and prepare to evacuate when needed. —With reports from Tina G. Santos, Tonette Orejas, Yolanda Sotelo and Nathan Alcantara
Inquirer calls for support for the victims of typhoon Ompong
Responding to appeals for help, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is extending its relief to victims of the recent typhoon Ompong.
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