CEBU IS IN FOR A ‘DAMP’ CHRISTMAS

By Jessa Mae O. Sotto, Morexette Marie B. Erram, Rosalie O. Abatayo |December 20,2018 - 10:41 PM

FLOODED STREET: A woman with an umbrella wades into knee-deep water and watches the vehicles cross the flooded Bonifacio Street in Barangay Tinago, Cebu City, which happened following a day of incessant rain on Thursday, Dec. 20, 2018.
CDN PHOTO/ JUNJIE MENDOZA

As thousands of people are expected to head to their hometowns starting today for the Christmas break, disaster management offices of the local government units (LGUs) in Cebu are on alert in preparation for the low pressure area (LPA) that is expected to bring heavy rainfall that may lead to flooding in Cebu until this weekend.

The rains are also expected to continue up to Christmas, according to Alfredo Quiblat Jr., chief of Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) station on Mactan Island.

He said the rainy weather that Metro Cebu has been experiencing since yesterday, would likely last until the weekend, or three days before Christmas.

“(But) within December 24 and 25, it will be a mix of sunny and rainy periods. If the data won’t change, we might experience light to moderate rains this Christmas, too. This is why we’re continually monitoring our weather,” he added.

Incessant rains over Metro Cebu began as early as 6 a.m. yesterday and had lasted until the afternoon.

Pagasa raised an orange rainfall alert at past 10 a.m. since the rainfall rate has already went beyond 30 millimeters per hour, which resulted to flooding in several low-lying areas, particularly in the cities of Cebu and Mandaue.

Quiblat said their agency recorded 86 millimeters of rain that poured over Cebu from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. yesterday.

Quiblat also said the rainy weather was due to the presence of a Low Pressure Area (LPA), and a tail-end of a cold front affecting the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

While chances remained small for the LPA to develop into a tropical depression, Quiblat added that it will still pass through Central Visayas any time today, Friday (December 21).

“As of 4 p.m. on Thursday, it was spotted 150 kilometers east of Hinatuan town in Surigao del Sur. According to our present data, there’s a 50-50 chance it will not dissipate, and will pass Central Visayas – particularly Cebu,” explained Quiblat.

Gale warning

Pagasa yesterday raised a gale warning advisory on the eastern seaboards of Southern Luzon and Visayas that includes the provinces of Quezon Including Polillo Island, Camarines provinces, Catanduanes, eastern coast of Albay, eastern coast of Sorsogon, and in Northern and Eastern Samar provinces.

Quiblat said the height of sea waves may reach from 2.8 meters to 4.5 meters and sailing conditions are considered “rough to very rough.”

At least three trips from Cebu bound to Eastern Visayas were cancelled yesterday by the respective shipping lines due to the weather.

Despite the cancelled trips, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Cebu Station Deputy Commander Erick Salcedo said there were no reports of stranded passengers as of yesterday.

Salcedo said the shipping line that cancelled its two trips bound for Ormoc City did not sell tickets while the other shipping line refunded the passengers.

Blue alert

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) has activated the blue alert status since 8 a.m. on Thursday, December 20.

The blue alert status, according to the standards of the National DRRM Council, means that at least half of their response personnel are on standby to respond to contingencies.

“Gi coordinate na nato ang atong mga responders sa mga LGUs, especially kadtong identified nga flood prone ug landslide prone (areas),” Julius Regner, information officer of the PDRRMO, told Cebu Daily News in a phone interview.

(We already coordinated with our responders from the LGUs especially those identified as prone to flooding and landslide.)

Regner said they have recommended the preemptive evacuation of those who are in risk areas.

“Yes, [we recommended for their evacuation] because the rainfall has been incessant in some areas. Because the rain is continuous, these areas may be prone to landslide,” Regner explained.

Naga City on alert

Personnel from the City DRRM Office (CDRRMO) of Naga City also went around the different critical areas in the city on Friday afternoon.

City Councilor Junjie Cruz, chief of the CDRRMO, said they visited the residents who have just returned to their homes after staying at evacuation centers for almost three months to encourage them to be vigilant, especially while the weather is bad.

“Gi adto namo ang mga (we went to the) critical area(s). We made sure nga walay nibalik sa mga balay nga naa sa (that no one returned to the houses within the) danger zone gyud,” Cruz said.

Cruz added that the CDRRMO also coordinated with the chiefs of villages, especially those in areas at risk for landslide and flooding.

He said they did not recommend evacuating residents yet but would continue to monitor these risk areas in case the need to transfer the residents would arise.

Floodings

Meanwhile, the rain that lasted the whole day caused flooding in several areas in Metro Cebu.

In Cebu City, minor flooding was reported in portions of N. Bacalso Avenue, M.J. Cuenco Avenue, the areas surrounding Mahiga Creek in Barangays Banilad and Mabolo, and Bonifacio Street in downtown Cebu City.

Nagiel Bañacia, head of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CCDRRMO), also asked those who will be attending Christmas parties in the city to be extra cautious due to the bad weather.

“Again, don’t drink and drive. And if you do drive, especially going to and from Christmas parties, do be careful with the rains making our roads more slippery than ever. If we go to our respective parties, don’t forget to be mindful of your surroundings,” said Bañacia.

He added that since Pagasa raised the orange rainfall alert yesterday, their agency has been on alert for possible floods in low-lying areas and possible landslide in the mountain barangays.

“We also advised the disaster teams in the barangay levels to be on standby alert for possible incidents,” Bañacia said.

The flooding also caused traffic gridlocks in major roads in Mandaue City.

Jay Basubas, head of the Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), said the flood has reached above waist level in Lopez Jaena Street in Subangdaku, M.C. Briones Street in Tipolo and A.S Fortuna in Mandaue City at around noon.

The flooding have caused moderate to heavy traffic in those areas as some light vehicles were left stranded. Basubas said they have deployed CDRRMO’s vehicles to ferry stranded passengers due to flooded areas in Mandaue City.

But at 2 p.m., Basubas said that the flood water gradually subsided and traffic became manageable.

Basubas advised the public to monitor their areas as well and take precautionary measures, especially those residing near riverbanks.

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