CLASSES in all preschool and elementary schools in the province are suspended today due to typhoon Urduja.
According to Baltazar Tribunalo Jr., Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) head, the directive came from Gov. Hilario Davide III. But it will be up to local school boards and local government units (LGUs) to suspend classes in high school and tertiary levels, he said.
Earlier yesterday, Dr. Rhea Mar Angtud, Cebu Provincial Schools Division superintendent of the Department of Education (DepEd), confirmed that municipalities suspended classes when they received word about the weather disturbance.
Tribunalo said schools that have students who have rivers to cross or live near hills should make the decision (to suspend classes), emphasizing on the need for localized decision-making.
He also said they should decide as early as possible.
The PDRRMO also urged residents and LGUs to be wary of landslides and flash floods.
Tribunalo said that people should not underestimate the amount of rainwater even if Signal No. 1 was only raised in Northern Cebu.
Rafael Luche, PDRRMO Emergency Response Management head, said that they have sent advisories to local disaster units.
Luche said that they are on orange alert, meaning they are prepared and supplies and heavy equipment are on standby.
Tropical storm Urduja will make landfall in Guian, Eastern Samar at 3 a.m. today and is expected to affect some parts of the Visayas, including Northern Cebu and Bantayan Island.
Officials of Sta. Fe, Bantayan and Madridejos in Bantayan Island have asked fishermen to stay ashore until the weather calms down.
In its 5 p.m. severe typhoon advisory, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) reported that Urduja, whose international name is Kai-Tak, was located 85 kilometers east southeast of Guian.
Engr. Oscar Tabada, Pagasa Visayas director, told SunStar Cebu that Urduja’s slow movement has allowed it to gain strength.
Moving only at seven kilometers per hour, Urduja packs maximum sustained winds of up to 65 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 90 kph, Tabada said.
Once it makes landfall, Urduja will bring moderate to heavy rain within a 400-kilometer diameter.
Signal No. 1 has been raised in Northern Cebu, including Bantayan Island; Catanduanes; Camarines Sur; Albay; Sorsogon; Masbate; Romblon; Northern Samar; Leyte; Southern Leyte; Capiz; Aklan; and Northern Iloilo.
The provinces of Eastern Samar, Samar and Biliran have been placed under Signal No.2.
Urduja is expected to pass the tip of Northern Cebu tonight and reach Iloilo by Saturday.
Mayors of Bantayan’s towns have started deploying their disaster preparedness teams.
They also suspended classes in all levels yesterday.
In Cebu City, the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CCDRRMO) raised the alert level to blue alert.
That means all personnel, supplies and equipment are on standby, including deploying heavy equipment in the mountain barangays, said CCDRRMO Chief Nagiel Bañacia.
Bañacia said that they are closely monitoring the barangays, particularly those that are prone to floods and landslides.
Councilor Dave Tumulak also asked barangays to activate their barangay disaster brigades.
In Mandaue City, classes in public elementary and high schools are suspended today as the city braces for heavy rains.
“Private schools are encouraged to cancel classes as their management deems appropriate,” Mayor Luigi Quisumbing said yesterday.
The mayor placed all emergency services and engineering crews on red alert status “until the weather disturbance has cleared.”
Mandaue CDRRM Officer Felix Suico said all the personnel in the City Command Center will be on standby to response emergencies anytime.
The Mandaue CDRRMO noticed slight flooding near the Mandaue City Comprehensive National High School on D.M. Cortes St. and near the University of Cebu Lapu-Lapu-Mandaue on A.C. Cortes Ave.
Suico also contacted officials in Barangays Casili, Tawason and Cubacub, which have areas that are prone to landslide. (JKV, FMG, RVC & USJ-R Interns Rolyn May Jumao-as, John Paul Fajardo)