PREPARATIONS FOR THE WORST
Although Cebu will not be directly hit by super typhoon Ompong, local government units and other agencies are preparing for the worst.
Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz Radaza suspended classes in all public elementary and high schools in the city on Wednesday afternoon so that students and teachers could prepare for any ill effects brought by inclement weather.
In Mandaue City, Mayor Luigi Quisumbing said they already loaded some city-owned trucks with supplies that include food and water for distribution to residents who will be affected by the coming rains.
“But we have yet to assess the effect of typhoon Ompong whether or not they will declare for suspension of classes in the city,” he added.Engr. Al Quiblat Jr., chief of the Mactan bureau of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), said Visayas will be experiencing light to moderate rains today, Thursday, because of the southwest
monsoon or habagat.
“Thunderstorms are also expected, and strong winds up to 50 to 60 kilometers will be experienced (today, Thursday). The issuance of a gale warning is also likely to happen between Friday and Saturday,” said Quiblat.
But even if Pagasa has yet to officially issue a gale warning, the Philippine Coast Guard in Cebu (PCG-Cebu) announced that all sea trips to and from the province will be canceled starting 12 noon today.
Among the voyages canceled are those bound for the towns of Palompon, Bato, Naval, Hilongos, and Ormoc City in Leyte; Tubigon in Bohol; Cataingan in Masbate; Surigao province, and the cities of Dapitan and Dipolog in Mindanao.
With the cancellation of boat trips, the Cebu South Bus Terminal also announced that bus trips bound for Dapitan and Zamboanga in Mindanao will be canceled today.
As Mayor Radaza suspended classes in public schools yesterday, she left the decision to the administrators of private schools to suspend their classes.
“We have identified flood-risk areas in the city and we already start cleaning drainages while trimming tall trees down,” Radaza said.
She also advised people to postpone their trips.
“Dili lang sa sila magsuroy-suroy. Kon pwede i-postpone lang sa ang byahe. At this time anha lang sa sila sa ilang kabalayan in preparation nga mokusog-kusog ni siya (We advise them to postpone their travel plans and stay at home to prepare in case the weather worsens,” Radaza said.
In Mandaue City, buses and trucks have been placed on standby to ferry commuters in the event that they will be stuck in flooded areas.
In Cebu City, Nagiel Bañacia, chief of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CCDRRMO), advised the public to clean their surroundings, especially the drainages, in order to mitigate the effects of flooding.
While no official suspension of classes has been announced, principals and barangay disaster councils have been authorized to suspend classes if the situation would warrant the need for the students and teachers to go home, Bañacia said.
“We advise the public to be on the lookout for floods and landslides brought by the bad weather,” he added.
The Office of Civil Defense in Central Visayas (OCD-7), during an emergency meeting with the local disaster responders and rescue units in Central Visayas yesterday, also advised LGUs to conduct preemptive evacuations.
Typhoon Ompong, the 15th major weather disturbance to enter the country this year, entered the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) around 3 p.m. yesterday.
State meteorologists also tagged Ompong (international name: Mangkhut) as the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year.
Weather specialists said it has further intensified shortly before it entered PAR yesterday, packing winds up to 205 kilometers per hour, with gustiness reaching to 255 kilometers per hour.
Ompong is moving at a speed of 20 kilometers per hour in a western direction, and will likely barrel through the areas around Cagayan Valley and Batanes on Saturday (September 15).
Pagasa also said Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 1 (TCWS#1) may be raised in eastern Luzon today since the center of the typhoon will be located at 805 kilometers east of Virac, Catanduanes.
Chief Supt. Debold Sinas, director of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said all police officers in the region were tasked to monitor their areas of responsibility and to recall all their personnel who are on leave.
“We’re on red alert status because of the super typhoon,” he said.
Sinas said the Regional Mobile Force Battalion was on standby in case of search and rescue operations. /with reports from Nestle L. Semilla
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