TS ‘URDUJA’ LEFT TRAIL OF DESTRUCTION
STORM AFFECTED NORTHERN CEBU
Heavy rains and wind spawned by Tropical Storm Urduja left widespread damage in Cebu, with hundreds of people evacuated and stranded in ports and island-resorts, and at least 35 domestic flights canceled even as the island is not in the direct path of the storm that has wrought bigger damage in Eastern Visayas.
In the northernmost tip of Cebu, electricity was down since yesterday morning, trees were uprooted, creeks overflowed and roads became unpassable.
These are just some of the scenes in the town of Daanbantayan, located more than 120 kilometers north of Cebu City, as Urduja made its way across the Visayas yesterday.
The incessant rains over the last two days also prompted the Daanbantayan municipal government to initiate a massive evacuation of families residing on coastal areas.
In a text message sent to Cebu Daily News, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) chief Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. said 4,126 families (or over 20,000 individuals) are at risk of being swept away by huge waves reaching their houses on the shore.
“Out of the 4,126 families, 3,725 are home-based or those who opted to move in to their friends and relatives living on safer areas. The rest are housed in evacuation centers in their respective barangays,” said Tribunalo.
He added that the around 50 families living on Carnaza Island, a few kilometers north of Malapascua Island, are also placed in an evacuation center within the island.
“Daanbantayan Mayor Vicente Loot is in the operation center coordinating the situation,” Tribunalo said.
Out of the 20 barangays that comprised Daanbantayan, 15 are located on the coasts. But even the five mountain villages — Curva, Buenavista, Pajo, Libug and Tinubdan — also felt the wrath of Urduja, as the national road that cuts across Sitio Anapog of Barangay Tinubdan suffered several cracks after the earth beneath the asphalt started to erode.
Lani Dublin, chief of the Daanbantayan Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO), said the non-stop, heavy rain softened the soil beneath the road, making it passable only to light vehicles.
“We’re still assessing the cost of damage on the road, and we’re also monitoring the situation of the entire town,” said Dublin.
Dublin said electricity in the entire town was down since 8 a.m. yesterday.
Medellin, the town next to Daanbantayan, was also in danger of flooding after the creeks in Barangays Camputatan Norte and Camputatan Sur overflowed, while the water level in the creek in Sitio Baha-Baha in Barangay Lamintak Norte was rising, said Tribunalo.
In Sogod town, also in northern Cebu, three barangays were affected by rising water level of rivers within their municipality, prompting the municipal government to evacuate 10 families or around 50 individuals to the Sogod Sports Complex.
Sogod Mayor Lizza Marie Durano-Streegan told Cebu Daily News by phone that their disaster response unit was also assisting in the evacuation of residents of the mountain barangay of Cabangahan since a river in their area was about to overflow.
“We’re still consolidating data as to how many (from Cabangahan) were evacuated, but they will be brought to our gym and they will be assisted too,” said Streegan.
Earlier on Friday, 25 persons from five families fled their homes in Barangay Nahus-an, Sogod, after the Nahus-an River overflowed. They are among the families now housed at the town’s gymnasium.
In Cebu City, residents in several mountain barangays reported damaged crops caused by strong winds.
Sirao Barangay Captain Felix Limotan said that even though there was no heavy downpour in their area, the day-long incessant rain and strong wind damaged their crops.
Limotan said that most of the damaged crops were corn and flowers in Sitios Kamangan, Tawagan I and in Tawagan II.
The landslides which had been occurring in the two Tawagan villages before the storm were made worse by Urduja, with fresh landslides reported in the area yesterday, Limotan added.
Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CCDRRMO) head Nagiel Bañacia said that crops in Barangay Adlaon were also damaged.
There were also fallen trees that blocked some roads in Barangays Cambinocot and Sudlon I because of strong wind, added Bañacia in a Facebook post yesterday.
Canceled tours, flights
The Provincial Tourism Office (PTO) has also monitored 153 foreign and local tourists who were stranded in the northern part of Cebu.
Arien Monterona, monitoring coordinator of PTO, said that 113 of these tourists were stranded in Malapascua Island, while 40 were stranded in the mainland of Daanbantayan town.
PTO has also ordered the postponement of the different tourism activities in Oslob, Badian, Alegria, Moalboal and Dalaguete.
“These activities include whale watching, island hopping, canyoneering, diving, and mountain climbing in Osmeña Peak,” Monterona said.
Monterona has also advised the tourists to stay safe and look for alternative activity to avoid accidents.
Meanwhile, airline companies operating in the Mactan-Cebu International Airport (MCIA) have canceled flights due to bad weather.
Avigael Maningo of the corporate affairs and branding department of GMR-Megawide Cebu Airport Corporation said that 17 departure and 18 inbound flights were canceled because of the storm.
These flights were from Cebu bound to Tacloban, Ormoc, Siargao, Surigao, Tagbilaran, Calbayog, Siquijor, Dipolog, Biliran and Legazpi in Albay and vice versa.
“These canceled flights are from Cebgo, Airjuan and Philippine Airline Express,” Maningo said.
Maningo urged the public to monitor their flight schedules from the airline companies or they can call the airport at 340-2468 to inquire about cancellation of flights.
Another tropical depression
Urduja made landfall on the areas between Eastern Samar and Northern Samar yesterday afternoon.
The severe weather bulletin issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) at 5 p.m. yesterday said that the eye of the storm was spotted within the vicinity of San Jose de Buan town of Samar.
State meteorologists noted that Urduja has slightly weakened a couple hours after it made landfall but it still packs winds at 120 kilometers per hour.
Storm Signal No. 2 was hoisted over Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Biliran Island, Antique, Aklan, Capiz, Northern Iloilo, Romblon, Masbate and Sorsogon.
Cebu was placed under Signal No. 1 at 8 a.m. yesterday, except the southern portion of the province, but Pagasa lifted the storm signal for the rest of Cebu at 5 p.m.
Pagasa was also monitoring a tropical depression located 2,135 km east of Mindanao, which, if it will not dissipate, will likely enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) on December 20 or 22.
However, Joey Figuracion, weather specialist from Pagasa–Mactan, said it was still premature to predict if the tropical depression will hit Visayas, particularly Cebu, this Christmas.
“The LPA is still outside of PAR. The scope of uncertainty is still too large. That’s why we cannot predict its track,” said Figuracion.
The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) has deployed at least 100 policemen in strategic places in northern Cebu to respond to emergencies and assist disaster units in the north.
Supt. Reyman Tolentin, PRO-7 information officer, said that personnel in a combine force from the Regional Mobile Force (RMF) (formerly the Regional Public Safety Battalion) and the Provincial Mobile Force (PMF) (formerly the Provincial Public Safety Company) were deployed in Bogo City, Tuburan town and the island of Bantayan yesterday.
“We have deployed a total of 117 personnel with an augmentation from Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)-Cebu to help in case of emergencies,” Tolentin said.
“So far wala pa tay incident nga naka-responde atong kapolisan (So far we have not responded to any incident yet). God forbid,” Tolentin said.
Palma calls for prayer
The onslaught of Urduja came just when Catholics began to troop to churches at dawn for the Misa De Gallo, or the nine-day dawn Masses prior to Christmas.
Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma urged the faithful to pray, not to lose hope and trust in God as they face another storm.
“Nag-training na man kita og mga lain-lain nga mga pamaagi og unsay angay buhaton. Sa dili pa moabot ang mga bagyo, ang mga precautionary measures atong buhaton,” added Palma in a talk with reporters after he officiated the first Misa de Gallo at the San Isidro Labrador Parish in Consolacion town in northern Cebu on Saturday.
(We already trained on the right things to do during calamities. We will also do precautionary measures even before storms come.)
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