‘Ofel’ disrupts trip schedules-A A +A
Thursday, October 25, 2012
CEBU CITY -- Tropical Storm “Ofel” (international codename: Son-Tinh) delayed the homecoming of a couple who want to start a new life in the province, as well as the trip home of 59 students from Leyte.
If it continues, bad weather may also delay the construction of the templete at the South Road Properties, the site of a national thanksgiving mass for the canonization of St. Pedro Calungsod.
Because of the tropical storm, there will be no classes today, Thursday, in all levels in both private and public schools in Cebu City. Cebu City’s Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (LDRRMC) recommended the suspension in a meeting on Wednesday.
The no-class policy will apply only today, said LDRRMC operation officer Alvin Santillana, but may be extended depending on the weather.
Nearly a thousand passengers were stranded in seaports after vessels were not allowed to sail Wednesday afternoon. Nearly 51 vessels were not given clearance to sail, said Commander Rolando Punzalan.
But as of 6 p.m. Wednesday, the weather bureau said in an advisory that only the northern part of Cebu remained under signal no. 2 and the rest of the province was under signal no. 1.
The bureau said in its Twitter account (@dost_pagasa) that the moderate to heavy rains affecting Cebu, Bohol, Leyte, and Samar at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday were expected to last for several hours.
“We listed a total of 370 passengers that were stranded in the port of Cebu since they opted to wait there, but others decided to go to their relatives and wait for further notice,” said Punzalan.
The LDRRMC directed the City Government’s Department of Public Services (DPS) to make its dump trucks available in case of evacuation and for the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW) to prepare their heavy equipment in case of landslides in mountain barangays.
Particularly for DEPW, Engr. Apollo Dante said their heavy equipment, which include a pay loader, backhoe, grader, and bulldozer, will be stationed in Barangay Taptap, a centrally located mountain barangay.
“Diha nato gibutang aron dali ra ta makaresponde kung naay landslide (We’ll station the equipment there so we can quickly respond in case of a landslide),” he said.
As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, Ofel was near Ormoc City, Leyte, with maximum winds of 65 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gusts of up to 80 kph. If it stays on track, the storm may be 70 kilometers northwest of San Jose, Mindoro by Friday.
During the meeting, the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) said they have also prepared for Ofel.
BFP said all their fire trucks are standing by, while the Cebu City Police Office (CCPO) said eight to five people in each of the 11 police stations of the city are ready to respond to emergencies.
Santillana on Wednesday said the LDRRMC will be on alert status until Friday.
Meanwhile, at least eight flights either leaving or heading for Mactan Cebu International Airport Wednesday were cancelled, after the weather bureau Pagasa hoisted storm signal No. 2 over Cebu.
Airport General Manager Nigel Paul Villarete said that most of the cancelled flights were to and from Mindanao and Eastern Visayas, including one for Surigao City, one for Tacloban City, and two for Butuan City, all from carrier Cebu Pacific.
The number of affected passengers and other flight details were not available at press time.
Oscar Tabada of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) in Mactan said the storm signal in Cebu may be lifted this noon.
Ofel, he added, is a dry cyclone, which means it will bring less rain in some areas, with strong winds of up to 80 kph.
Juliper Malutaw, her husband, and their two children aged one and two are used to a travel time of one day and one night from Antique Province to Catbalogan, Samar.
But due to the bad weather, they have been in transit for four days and are already running low on food and money.
Malutaw told Sun.Star Cebu that they are moving to Samar for good and they are holding on to their fare and hoping they can leave today.
The couple doesn’t have boat tickets yet because the shipping company would not sell tickets if there are no scheduled trips for the day.
She prayed for better weather today so they can go home.
Vivian Navaroza, the travel coordinator of the group of students from the Bato Institute of Science and Technology, said they ran out of food and water and are looking at a four-day delay if the storm does not let up soon.
She has provided some of the meals for the students, as well as insurance and T-shirts, but she is also running low on funds.
“There is no place for bathing. Fortunately, one of the students has a relative here and that is where they go to wash… We might have to stay here until Friday. We don’t have money anymore,” she said.
The students, who are all majoring in Business Administration, slept on the steel benches of the passenger terminal at the port area, without blankets or pillows.
But the stranded passengers received assistance from the terminal employees, who pooled some personal funds to buy dinner last night and breakfast today.
Vicente Baladjay, the terminal operation officer, said they managed to collect only a small amount for the stranded passengers.
In a separate interview, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) information officer Jaybee Binghay said the agency will bring packed meals good for 60 passengers today.
Some DSWD personnel will visit terminals on Thursday to assess the situation of passengers, including those who do not have tickets yet, said Binghay.
Meanwhile, there are no changes in the arrival time of Fr. Charles Jayme and the pilgrim image of St. Pedro, said Margie Matheu, secretariat for the Cebu archdiocese’s preparations for the thanksgiving mass on Nov. 30.
She said that according to an advisory issued by Cathay Pacific, there is no advice on the change in the estimated time of arrival of Jayme and the statue of the Visayan saint.
The plane from Rome, Italy is set to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport via Hong Kong at 4:45 p.m. Thursday.
Jayme boarded the 12:30 p.m. flight with the pilgrim image.
“At exactly 9 a.m., we set off to Fiumicino Airport with assistance from the Philippine Embassy to the Holy See. The pilgrim image of San Pedro Calungsod is going home! Viva Pedro!” Jayme said in a text message.
In Cebu City, work on the preparations to celebrate the canonization of the second Filipino saint may be delayed due to bad weather, said Fr. Brian Brigoli, vice chairman of the committee on venue.
He said the welding works and premixing of cement would have to be stopped but the backfilling work will continue. (BAP/PDF/JBT/With EOB)
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 25, 2012.