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Friday, April 19, 2019

Wet weekend with Chedeng

GET ready for a rainy weekend, with typhoon Chedeng expected to make landfall in Central or Southern Luzon on Black Saturday.

The Capitol, the cities of Cebu and Mandaue, and the Office of Civil Defense 7 assured they are ready for bad weather, even if Cebu is not directly in the typhoon’s path.

“We are on red alert so while half of our personnel are off today, the other half is constantly monitoring (the situation),” Director Olivia Luces of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) 7 told Sun.Star Cebu.

As of yesterday morning, Chedeng packed maximum sustained winds of 190 kilometers per hour (kph)—about 30 kph short of a “super typhoon”—and gustiness of 225 kph, said the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa).

It moved west northwest at 20 kph and was expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility late last night or early this morning. (It is known elsewhere as Maysak.)

Just before Chedeng makes landfall in Luzon on Black Saturday, it may rain in Cebu and parts of Central Visayas, said Oscar Tabada of Pagasa Mactan.

He urged the public to keep monitoring the typhoon’s movements.

The OCD also directed local government units to identify evacuation centers in their towns and cities in preparation for Chedeng.

Director Olivia Luces convened the Pre-disaster Risk Assessment (PDRA) core group yesterday to discuss measures being implemented for the storm.

Satellite phones

The PDRA is composed of the OCD, Philippine National Police, Pagasa, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Philippine Information Agency and National Economic and Development Authority.

Learning from super typhoon Yolanda in November 2013, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) information officer Julius Regner said that all local government units (LGUs) under Cebu Province have become more vigilant and activated their disaster offices.

“Before, asking the disaster officers to work was really a problem. We (at the Capitol) needed to egg them on to undergo training but now, it’s the LGUs that call, asking to train their personnel,” Regner said.

Cebu Gov. Hilario Davide III met with department heads yesterday and asked them to get ready for Chedeng.

Provincial Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Officer (PDRRMO) Baltazar Tribunalo said they started preparing food just in case the typhoon hits any part of Cebu.

The PDRRMO also started distributing last night the remaining satellite phones to mayors, so they can quickly report the situation or call for help. Some already have these phones.

Supplies

This week, the PDRRMO’s teams are being fielded both in the Capitol and the South Bus Terminal.

LGUs that have active ERTs were given survival kits, donated by a Canadian group.

Joel Sisa of the PDRRMO showed Sun.Star Cebu the contents of the survival kits: bandages, emergency blankets, blood pressure monitors and medicines. Since the kits were limited, only a few of the LGUs were given these, like Talisay City, Danao City, Bogo City and Argao.

“We are ready to respond to disasters. The important thing is collaboration because the ERTs have different skills,” said Sisa.

During the PDRA meeting yesterday, DSWD’s Jenifer Abastillas said that the office has ready goods for typhoon victims.

Nakakapagtaka, iba na talaga ang panahon (It’s strange, but the weather has changed),” Luces said, in reaction to observations that this typhoon is arriving during the dry season.

The OCD 7 operations section said that aside from typhoon monitoring, the office will also closely watch churches, seaports, airports, and even beaches.

Through the Smart Infoboard system, the OCD 7 sends a text blast to Smart users, containing weather updates, especially when bad weather is expected.

Yolanda’s lessons

Medellin Mayor Ricardo Ramirez said that his town’s workers pruned trees near power lines and cleaned the drains yesterday. He said they are also monitoring typhoon updates and are ready to evacuate those at risk, if necessary.

“Those painful lessons from Yolanda are etched in our brains,” Mayor Ramirez said.

In Minglanilla town in southern Cebu, Poblacion Barangay Captain Manolito Quiñanola said he met with eight families living on the banks of Saliring River, for immediate evacuation.

In November 2014, a woman died after being swept away by a flash flood when the Saliring River overflowed. The woman, Alona Baldado, managed to save her two children.

The captain said there aren’t as many families living near the river, and that his house and barangay hall are ready to accommodate the eight families still living on the riverbanks.

In Metro Cebu, the cities of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Mandaue likewise prepared for Chedeng.

The Mandaue City Government will have its rescue vehicles and heavy equipment on standby starting this afternoon.

Felix Suico, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (CDRRM) officer, said that more than 10 vehicles will be ready for emergencies. These include two ambulances, two dump trucks, and four L300 vans.

In place

“Our logistics are ready, including fuel for the vehicles,” he said. A new patrol boat will also be standing by.

The CDRRM Council convened yesterday morning to discuss preparations for the typhoon.

“Schools will serve as evacuation centers, except those that are located in low-lying areas,” Suico said.

Members of the Mandaue Contractors’ Association are willing to accomodate evacuees in their vacant warehouses, he added.

Barangay officials have also been instructed to warn 400 households living along the Butuanon River in Barangays Tabok, Maguikay, Paknaan and Tingub.

In Lapu-Lapu City, disaster responders are also on alert.

Andy Berame, deputy action officer of the City Disaster Management Office, said all disaster responders and vehicles are ready, as well as relief goods.
“Everything is in place,” he said.

He added: “We are monitoring Pagasa updates. We will take preemptive measures depending on the weather bulletins of Pagasa.”

For its part, the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CCDRRMC) placed the entire city under “alert level alpha” since yesterday for typhoon Chedeng.

Command

The CCDRRMC convened yesterday for the City’s preparations for the typhoon. These included the pre-positioning of heavy equipment in the upland areas, and the inventory of stocks of medicine, food and water, among others.

Though Chedeng will not directly hit Cebu, Mayor Michael Rama said that City Hall will be open when needed.

“The command center will continue observing; all have been told to continue monitoring,” Rama said.

Councilor Dave Tumulak, who also chairs the CCDRRMC, said that barangays were told to prepare, particularly those in the mountain areas.

City Hall’s repeater antennas were checked yesterday to make sure that the City can contact remote villages using handheld radios.

Tumulak asked those who will be traveling today to listen and heed advisories about the weather.

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