Tropical Depression Amang forces evacuation in Bicol
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines —Residents in the Bicol region woke up to a rainy Wednesday after Tropical Depression Amang made landfall in Panganiban town in the island province of Catanduanes on Tuesday night.
Heavy rains dumped by Amang forced 480 families or 1,481 people in Albay, Camarines Norte, and Catanduanes provinces to flee their homes while flooding was reported in several areas in the region.
In Albay, 379 families or 1,149 people from the villages of Tandarora and Maninila in Guinobatan town were evacuated to Mauraro Community College while eight families were forced to seek temporary shelter in private homes due to threat of flooding and lahar flow, Vice Mayor Ann Gemma Ongjoco said.
Gremil Alexis Naz, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Bicol spokesperson, said at least 20 families were evacuated from coastal areas in the towns of Mercedes and Talisay in Camarines Norte province.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), in its 5 p.m. bulletin on Wednesday, said that Amang was “almost stationary” over the coastal waters of Virac, Catanduanes. It packed sustained winds of 45 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 55 kph.
Pagasa said Amang would head northwestward in the next few days. It will traverse the coastlines of Camarines Sur and Quezon provinces.
Tropical cyclone wind Signal No. 1 has been hoisted over Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, Burias Island, Ticao Island, Laguna, Aurora, Quezon (including Polillo Island), Rizal, Bulacan and Nueva Ecija. These areas are likely to experience rainy weather and strong winds that may cause minimal to minor damage, the weather bureau said.
Heavy rains until Saturday afternoon are expected over Calabarzon (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) region, Metro Manila, Tarlac, Pampanga, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and the southern portion of Aurora.
“Considering the weak and disorganized nature of this depression, considerable changes in the track forecast… are not ruled out,” Pagasa said.
Naz said around 16 villages were flooded in Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur but floodwaters in some areas started to recede by Wednesday afternoon.
Spillways and bridges in towns of San Vicente and Mercedes, both in Camarines Norte, were rendered impassable due to overflowing rivers. Some flood-hit roads in three villages of Guinobatan, Albay, were also impassable on Wednesday morning.
The OCD also cautioned travelers to postpone trips to areas in the storm’s path.
“If there are those planning to go to affected areas or places where Signal No. 1 is hoisted, such as tourists, we advise them not to proceed for the meantime. If they’re already in those areas, we ask them to remain where they’re staying and not to go out unless necessary so that they can be safe from the storm,” Diego Agustin Mariano, OCD-Joint Information Center head, said at the Laging Handa public briefing on Wednesday.
At Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Metro Manila, flights to Naga City in Camarines Sur and Virac, Catanduanes, were canceled on Wednesday due to the storm.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) in Bicol reported that 2,138 passengers, 381 cargo trucks and two vessels were stranded in seaports in Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon and Camarines Sur.
The passengers and vehicles stranded in Matnog port were allowed to travel at 2 p.m. after the PCG Bicol lifted the suspension.
Reports said more than 1,000 passengers, eight buses, 187 trucks and 141 light vehicles were also stranded along Maharlika Highway after land travel to the Visayas was suspended on Tuesday.
Lt. Commander Edgardo Aguilar of the PCG in Masbate said all trips of roll-on, roll-off and cargo vessels in the province going to the Visayas resumed at 5 a.m. on Wednesday.
Despite making landfall in Panganiban, Catanduanes, at 10 p.m. on Tuesday, the heavy and continuous rains brought about by Amang did not cause floods and landslides in the island province, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said in a report. But at least 69 families (231 people) were evacuated from the coastal village of Talisoy in Virac town.
Mark Matira, operations chief of Virac Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), said in a report that all evacuees in Catanduanes started returning home on Wednesday afternoon.Work in government and private offices in Camarines Norte and Catanduanes were suspended on Wednesday due to heavy rains.
Classes were suspended in Camarines Norte, Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon and Quezon.