Thursday, September 20, 2018

Over 100 families evacuate ahead of ‘Ompong'

NEARLY 200 families in the Cordillera region have heeded the government’s call to seek safety in evacuation centers ahead of Typhoon Ompong (international name Mangkhut).

The Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) in Cordillera declared pre-emptive evacuation of residents in flood and landslide-prone areas on Friday, September 14, less than 24 hours before Ompong was forecast to make landfall in northeast Luzon.

Department of the Interior and Local Government regional director Marlo Iringan said some 161 families, or 663 individuals, from the provinces of Abra, Kalinga and Mountain Province have evacuated as of Friday, September 14.

“This is the initial number of families and individuals who have heeded the call of government for them to undergo preemptive evacuation and we are still in the process of convincing other families located in landslide and flood-prone areas to do the same to prevent casualties during the onslaught of Ompong,” Iringan said.

In La Trinidad, capital town of Benguet province, 15 families or 65 individuals agreed to leave their homes in Little Kibungan. They have been housed at Puguis Elementary School since September 13.

La Trinidad Mayor Romeo Salda said he has deployed several teams to convince families in flood-prone areas in Toyong, Puguis and Barangay Betag to evacuate.

Janet Armas, regional director of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), said they were processing additional families from Benguet.

“There are families in Benguet Province that have given their intention to undergo preemptive evacuation and we are now processing them. We are now guarding the municipality of Tuba and the mayor have assured us the affected families at Camp 6 will be evacuated, some families at Kiangan village have also evacuated plus those in Ampucao who are now at the Ucab Elementary school,” Armas said.

In Itogon, Benguet Governor Crescencio Pacalso said evacuation may also be imposed in Ucab because of possible landslide and sinking.

As of 8 a.m. of September 14, Binga and Ambuclao Dam have opened its gates at 1.5 meters each.

Relief goods

The DSWD regional office in Cordillera has prepositioned 30,000 family food packs and non-food items in strategic areas for easy deployment. Each pack costs P398 and would feed a family of five for two days.

The agency also has a standby fund of P3 million. Division chiefs of the DSWD have been instructed to proceed to some provinces in anticipation of communication failure.

“The regional directors of DSWD 1 (Ilocos) and 2 (Cagayan Valley) have agreed to serve the nearest Cordillera provinces to their region for immediate response while our communication facilities consisting of a GX system aside from cellular phones is available for the immediate relay of vital information to the regional department,” Armas said.

The Philippine Red Cross Office in Baguio City, through administrator Annie Tamayo, has assured sufficient supply of blood once needed in any operation.

The Benguet Electric Cooperative is ready to implement its emergency reactivation plan through its distribution dispatch team and its administrative support division.

Public Works Secretary Mark Villar said they were prepared to conduct clearing operations on road networks after the typhoon.

“We have identified 44 locations under the 12 District Engineering Offices in the region wherein we have a total of 63 heavy equipment of the government with 208 heavy 148 other equipments coming from the private companies prepositioned in Cordillera with a total manpower of 1,010 scattered to do the clearing operations,” Villar said during his visit to the DPWH regional office to oversee preparations for the typhoon.

He said the department has a quick response fund which will be used for the repair and rehabilitation of damaged road networks.

“Our challenge is for the immediate clearing of the affected road networks in the region for the continuity of the delivery of services specially during these times. And we have talked with the various contractors to assist us in the clearing operations to quickly resolve the effects of the typhoon,” Villar added.


Pacalso, as chairman of the Benguet Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, has suspended classes in all levels on September 14 to 15.

He also directed Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils to enforce temporary suspension of small-scale mining activities and tourism-related activities.

In La Trinidad, Salda imposed a municipal-wide ban on the serving of liquor and alcoholic beverages from 6 p.m. of September 14 until 12 a.m. of September 16.

“In order to prevent the loss of life and injury upon our constituents, there is a need to prevent activities that would cause public drunkenness and risky behavior,” he stated in his executive order.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said Baguio City and Benguet are expected to experience 550 millimeters of rainfall Saturday, September 15, during the onslaught of Typhoon Ompong.

Ompong, which is packing winds of 205 kilometers per hour with gustiness of up to 255 kph and moving at 30 kph, is forecast to make landfall in Cagayan and northern Isabela in the early morning of Saturday.

Cagayan and northern Isabela are both under Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No. 4.