Cebu, Negros folk warned of ‘Auring’ floods
CEBU CITY—Disaster response personnel in Cebu and Negros Occidental provinces are preparing for Tropical Storm “Auring” (international name: Dujuan), which is expected to pass through the Visayas this weekend.
Ramil Ayuman, acting head of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (DRRMO), on Thursday said one of the measures it had taken was the deployment of heavy equipment to areas prone to landslides.
A quick response team, he said, would be put on standby in case of a need to augment personnel.
Auring, the first tropical storm to enter the Philippine area of responsibility this year, was spotted 640 kilometers east-southeast of Hinatuan town, Surigao del Sur province, on Thursday afternoon. It was packing peak winds of 65 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 80 kph, and was moving slowly westward at 10 kph.
Landfall in Caraga
It was expected to make landfall in Caraga region in northeastern Mindanao and move northwest, crossing the Visayas before blowing out of the country into the West Philippine Sea on Monday evening.
“[The storm] is still in the middle of the ocean and it is still far from Mindanao land mass so no tropical cyclone signals have been raised,” said Ariel Rojas, a weather specialist at the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).
But on Friday, Pagasa said Eastern Visayas, Caraga and Davao regions could expect scattered rain showers. From this weekend until Monday, it said it expected heavy rainfall which could cause floods and landslides in the Visayas and the regions of Bicol, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Northern Mindanao, Caraga and Davao
The state weather bureau on Thursday raised gale warnings on the seaboards of Northern and Central Luzon, and the eastern seaboards of southern Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao. Waves of up to 5 meters high were expected and fishermen were told not to sail.
Evacuation plansNeil Angelo Sanchez, the Cebu DRRMO chief, appealed to residents living near areas prone to landslides and flooding to evacuate to safer grounds before Auring hits.
He urged them to continue wearing their masks and face shields while observing physical distancing in evacuation centers.
Cebu City Councilor David Tumulak, chair of the disaster risk reduction and management committee, advised village officials to inform residents living near mountains and the sea about the coming storm so they could ready their evacuation plans.
Negros Occidental Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson placed the province under heightened alert. “Let us pray, prepare and be proactive for a resilient and safer Negros,” he said.
Unless it changes its track, Auring is expected to hit the province on Sunday or Monday.
The governor directed all disaster officers to review their contingency plans, particularly on possible floods and landslides.
Zeaphard Caelian, head of the Provincial Disaster Management Program Division, reminded residents living in flood-prone areas to be ready for preemptive evacuation.
He said people should not drink liquor while there was a danger of a natural disaster as many who were drunk drowned in floodwaters in the past.
“Residents must know when and where to evacuate. They should not underestimate Auring,” Caelian said.
Pagasa weather specialist Joey Figuracion on Wednesday said that based on historical records, Auring might follow the track of Tropical Storm “Basyang” (international name: Sanba), which also made landfall in northeastern Mindanao and soaked Visayas and Mindanao three years ago.
At the height of that storm, at least 424 families, or about 1,800 individuals, were evacuated from the southern towns of Cebu after it made landfall in Cortez town, Surigao del Sur, in the morning of Feb. 13, 2018.
Basyang made its second landfall in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, and moved toward the Sulu Sea. It weakened into a tropical depression as it crossed the southern part of the Visayas the following day.
A total of 22 road sections and eight bridges were affected in the Visayas and Caraga.
A 57-year-old woman was killed when a coconut tree toppled on a shed where she was staying in Alegria town southwest of Cebu City.
At least 163 barangays in Western and Eastern Visayas were also flooded then. —WITH A REPORT FROM NIKKA G. VALENZUELA
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