Agusan del Norte folk flee homes as Tropical Storm Dante triggers floods
At least 200 families in Agusan del Norte province were forced to flee their homes due to floods triggered by heavy rain since Monday night as Tropical Storm “Dante” (international name: Choi-wan) continued to inch closer to the Philippine landmass.
Dante slightly weakened on Tuesday, but still posed a threat to Eastern Visayas, where it was expected to hit land, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).The cyclone will remain a tropical storm prior to its initial landfall over Eastern Samar between Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning, the weather bureau said.
Heavy rains are still expected across the Visayas and Mindanao, said Ana Clauren, Pagasa weather specialist at a press briefing.
As of 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dante’s center was estimated at 85 kilometers east northeast of Guiuan town in Eastern Samar. It packed winds of up to 65 km per hour and gusts of up to 80 kph.
In Butuan City, hundreds of people crammed evacuation centers in Barangay Los Angeles, Libertad and Sto. Niño as floodwaters, described by residents to have risen neck-deep, engulfed houses on Tuesday morning.
In Agusan del Norte, the municipal government of Jabonga recorded 93 families displaced by the floods as of 2 p.m. The floods and landslides in the town rendered several sections of the national highway impassable on Tuesday morning.
In Tubay town, rising floodwaters in Barangay Tagmamarkay prevented light vehicles from passing through village roads, hampering travel between this city and Surigao del Norte province.
According to the local government of Tubay, 15 families from Barangay La Fraternidad were displaced by the floods.
In Cabadbaran town, 80 families were evacuated from their homes in the villages of Concepcion and Bayabas.
In La Paz town, Agusan del Sur province, communities in Sabang Adgawan, a village near the Agusan Marsh, were hit by floods. Mayor Michael Lim led a relief operation in the village on Tuesday.Albay preparation
In Bicol region, Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara on Tuesday ordered the evacuation of residents in areas prone to floods, storm surges, lahar and landslide, particularly in the eastern section of the province spanning the towns of Manito, Sto. Domingo, Bacacay, Malilipot, Malinao, Tiwi and the cities of Legazpi and Tabaco.
Bichara directed local disaster response councils to ensure that evacuation of residents in high risk areas would be completed before nightfall on Tuesday.
He also ordered the suspension of work in private and government offices and of online classes and mall operation in the province on Wednesday.
Earlier Tuesday, land and sea travel to the Visayas and Mindanao through Bicol’s ports was suspended, the Office of Civil Defense in the region said.
The Land Transportation Office in the region on Monday issued a directive canceling inbound trips of provincial buses, passenger vans, private vehicles, and cargo and delivery trucks bound for the Visayas and Mindanao, and Catanduanes and Masbate provinces.The suspension was aimed at preventing congestion on Maharlika Highway in major ports in Sorsogon and Albay.
At least 403 passengers were stranded while eight buses, 81 trucks, and seven cars, most of them bound for the Visayas and Mindanao, were grounded at the ports of Matnog in Sorsogon and in Masbate, the Philippine Coast Guard said on Tuesday.
Pagasa said Dante is expected to continue moving generally toward the northwest until Wednesday night, before weakening into a tropical depression the following day.
On Tuesday afternoon, tropical cyclone wind Signal No. 2 was declared over Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, northern portion of Camarines Norte, Masbate, including Ticao and Burias Islands, Albay, Sorsogon, Eastern Samar, Samar, Northern Samar, Biliran and the northeastern portion of Leyte.
Clauren said residents in these areas should prepare for strong and “damaging” winds.
Storm Signal No. 1, meanwhile, was declared over Rizal, Laguna, Quezon, including Polillo Islands, Marinduque, Romblon, southeastern portion of Batangas and the rest of Camarines Norte.
The northeastern portions of Aklan, Capiz, Negros Occidental, Iloilo and Bohol, northern portion of Cebu, the rest of Leyte, Southern Leyte, Surigao del Norte, including Siargao and Bucas Grande Islands, Dinagat Island and the northern portions of Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur were also placed under the same storm signal.
Residents in these areas should brace for scattered flooding, flash floods and rain-induced landslides, Pagasa said.
—WITH REPORTS FROM MAR S. ARGUELLES, MA. APRIL MIER-MANJARES AND MADONNA VIROLA
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