Surge warning up in Cebu

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Monday, April 7, 2014


AT LEAST 14 towns and one city in Cebu may experience storm surges with heights of at least half a meter on Wednesday afternoon as tropical depression Domeng approaches the country.

As of 6:30 last night, the Department of Science and Technology’s Project Noah predicted that coastal areas in the city of Toledo and the towns of Aloguinsan, Barili, Dumanjug, Ginatilan, Santander, Oslob, Malabuyoc, Badian, Alegria, Balamban, Pinamungajan, Samboan, Moalboal and Ronda may experience storm surges with heights of .5 to .63 meters.

The surges were forecast to affect the areas from 5:50 p.m. to 6:20 p.m. on Wednesday.

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Project Noah, which stands for the Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards, updates the list of areas and storm surge levels every six hours.

Fishermen in Cebu prepare form storm surge
SURGE OF PREPAREDNESS. Fishermen in Talisay, Santander bring their boats to shore. The coastal community in southern Cebu is one of the areas that, according to Project Noah, may see a storm surge on Wednesday afternoon as a result of tropical depression Domeng. (Alex Badayos)


Full alert

Cebu’s Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (PDRRM) Office advised all the local government units to prepare for rough weather.

The Cebu City Government is already on full alert.

At 4 p.m. yesterday, Domeng hovered 670 kilometers east of Davao City, with maximum sustained winds of 55 kilometers per hour (kph), according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

It was forecast to move northwest at 13 kph.

Domeng, which was downgraded from a tropical storm, was expected to be 480 kilometers east of Davao this morning and 290 kilometers northeast of the city on Wednesday morning.

It was forecast to be in the vicinity of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur by Thursday morning.

(A tropical storm’s maximum wind speed ranges from 64 to 118 kilometers per hour, while a tropical depression is described as a “weak low-pressure disturbance” with a maximum wind speed of 63 kph.)

Extra caution

Based on a simulation done by Project Noah, the communities of Bonbon, Palahikan, Colase and San Sebastian in the southern Samboan town in Cebu will be affected by storm surges. The tide level was considered in making the simulation.

Storm surges with heights .63 meters were also expected in coastal communities in Maguindanao and Negros Oriental.

Storm surges as high as seven meters swept communities in Leyte when super typhoon Yolanda struck last Nov. 8, killing more than 6,200 people.

Nedz Saletrero, weather specialist at Pagasa Mactan, Cebu Station, said Domeng is expected to make landfall in Surigao del Sur by Thursday.

“But there’s still a possibility it will weaken into a low- pressure area after making landfall,” she said in a phone interview.

According to Pagasa’s 5 p.m. weather forecast, people in Central Visayas, including Cebu, can expect cloudy skies with scattered rains and thunderstorms today.

Saletrero said the region will continue to have cloudy skies until Thursday, with light to moderate rains expected on Friday and Saturday.

Avoid panic

Saletrero advised the people not to easily believe in text messages that aim to spread panic, saying she received one that warned of a typhoon stronger than Yolanda to hit Cebu and Bohol.

“While it’s good to prepare, let’s avoid sending text messages that can cause panic.

One may verify these warnings with us. Our office is open 24 hours,” she said.

Pagasa earlier forecast zero to one tropical storm for April. Last March 26, it announced the end of the northeast monsoon, which signaled the arrival of the hot and dry season or summer.

The PDRRM Council convened yesterday to get updates about Domeng and learned from Pagasa Mactan weather bureau chief Oscar Tabada that it would probably hit southern Cebu by Thursday.

Task Force Paglig-on head Baltazar Tribunalo said that Tabada told them Domeng is not as strong as Yolanda was, but may bring more rains.

“Sa pagkakaron, bisa’g gamay di na ta mokumpyansa (We will not let our guard down, even if it’s a minor storm),” Tribunalo said.

Preparations

Tribunalo will serve as the PDRRM officer in May, after Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III appointed him to replace Neil Angelo Sanchez, who resigned last March.

Davide, who heads the PDRMM Council, said the Capitol has been sending updates about the tropical storm (which later weakened to a tropical depression) to every local government unit.

He said he was confident that after Yolanda, the slightest information about a typhoon heading for Cebu would compel the municipalities to get ready.

For his part, Mayor Michael Rama met yesterday with the Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (LDRRMC), Cebu City Hall officials, the Cebu Contractors Association, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and the weather bureau to discuss the preparations.

Rama said he has asked DPWH to make sure that all its civil works for its ongoing road projects will not clog the drainage systems, in order to prevent floods.

“They should be vigilant,” he said.

Command

The mayor also told the LDRRMC to operate a command center starting today at City Hall, so that emergencies such as landslides and flash floods will be monitored and immediately addressed.

To augment the personnel of LDRRMC, Councilor Philip Zafra, who is the president of the Association of Barangay Councils, directed all barangays to activate their disaster response teams.

He has also instructed them to set up a command center in their villages starting yesterday until Thursday.

As for the contractors, Councilor Dave Tumulak said the City has asked them to lend their equipment in case there will be emergencies in the urban barangays.

The equipment of the Department of Engineering and Public Works will be deployed to the mountain villages, he said.

In his regular news conference yesterday, Mayor Rama said that while Domeng is not that strong, the City should be prepared for the weather disturbance, as it will bring rain that might cause floods or landslides.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on April 08, 2014.

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