‘Lando’ to bring tsunami-like storm surges in coastal areas; Signal No. 4 in Aurora
Authorities on Saturday warned that a powerful typhoon will likely linger over the country for almost three days, bringing prolonged heavy rain, possible floods and sparking storm surges.
Hundreds of people have already been evacuated from the northeastern provinces in the face of the approaching Typhoon Lando (international name: Koppu), possibly the second most powerful storm to strike the disaster-prone country this year, civil defence officials said.
The typhoon is expected to make landfall early Sunday and will not leave the archipelago until Tuesday, state weather agency, Pagasa, said.
The National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council is contacting towns that may be vulnerable to the storm to ensure they are prepared, officials said.
President Benigno Aquino 3rd previously warned that Typhoon Lando could be uniquely destructive because it would bring intense rain over a long period of time.
Pagasa acting director Espie Cayanan said the storm, which has sustained winds of 160 kilometers per hour and gusts of 195 kilometers per hour, could strengthen as it gets closer to the country.
Due to its interaction with another nearby weather disturbance, Lando may move slowly across the northern end of Luzon, she warned.
“It may be semi-stationary once it hits,” Cayanan told reporters.
She said that almost all areas in Luzon will experience heavy rains for more than 24 hours while Lando crosses.
The typhoon, moving at 10 kilometers per hour, is expected to make landfall in the northeastern province of Aurora before curving north over Luzon and eventually moving out to sea, she added.
Although the storm will not directly hit Metro Manila, Cayanan warned that its diameter was so huge that even the southern regions were likely to be affected by strong winds and rain.
Areas hit by the typhoon will suffer “heavy to intense rainfall” with possible tsunami-like storm surges in coastal areas.
Civil defense officials warned that waves as high as 14 meters (46 feet) could occur at sea and banned all vessels from sailing in over half the country.
They also warned of possible floods in river basins and urged residents to heed orders to evacuate ahead of any incident.
“If you are told you need to evacuate, then we appeal to you to evacuate,” retired Vice Admiral Alexander Pama, chief of the National Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Council, said.
He also urged the public to cancel any travel plans over the weekend.
The typhoon has intensified as it threatens the provinces of Aurora, Isabela and northern Quezon.
In its 5 p.m. bulletin, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) raised public storm signal no. 4 over Aurora province.
Public storm signal number 3 was raised over the provinces of Isabela, Quirino, Nueva Vizcaya, Nueva Ecija, Ifugao and northern Quezon including Polillo Island.
Cagayan including Calayan and Babuyan group of Islands, Benguet, Mt. Province, Abra,
Kalinga, Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Pangasinan, Zambales, Tarlac, Pampanga, Bulacan, Rizal, rest of Quezon, Camarines Norte and Metro Manila were placed under signal number 2.
While those placed under signal number 1 include Batanes, Bataan, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Lubang Island, northern Oriental Mindoro, Marinduque, Camarines Sur, Albay and Catanduanes.
Target: zero casualties
Deputy Presidential Spokesperson Abigail Valte said that government agencies had prepared for the storm, stockpiling relief goods and heavy equipment which may be needed for rescue and repair efforts.
“The government is prepared for this and has undertaken all the necessary measures to ensure that we reach our zero-casualty target,” she told reporters.
Nigel Lontoc, the civil defense director in the area covering Aurora province, said there were “ongoing pre-emptive evacuations… some of the mayors are implementing forced evacuations of families if they do not voluntarily evacuate.”
The evacuations are focused in coastal areas that may be hit by storm surges and a mountain area known to be vulnerable to landslides.
He said the number of people evacuated will likely rise as the storm gets closer.
So far, the area was just experiencing occasional rains and gusts of wind but Lontoc warned, “we can expect more flooding and landslides, very powerful rains.”
The Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (MDRRMO) of Baler (Aurora) has started the pre-emptive evacuation of residents in the low-lying areas.
Gabriel Llave, MDRRMO chief, said the move is being implemented to avoid casualty in this town.
“The government will intensify forced evacuation operation to ensure the safety of the residents,” Llave said.
He said that pre-emptive evacuation started along the beaches of barangays Zabali, Sabang, Buhangin and Reserva. He said residents who also need to be evacuated are those living in Sitio Setan, Barangay Calabuanan; Sitio Gabgab, Barangay Buhangin; Sitio Tirong, Barangay Obligacion; Sitio Dipakpak, Barangay Reserva which are low-lying areas.
“Exempted from, the pre-emptive evacuation are those residents in Poblacion 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5,” he said.
He reminded local residents that forced evacuation during calamities is a law in this capital town and penalties await violators, including fine and imprisonment for local government officials.
Likewise, he reminded the public about the observance of the color-coding scheme, indicating the gravity of the incoming calamity wherein the major purpose is to give alarm signals and thus, help save lives.
“Every pole is painted up to six-feet high starting from the ground. From the base, the color yellow is applied two feet high, followed by green for another two feet and red in the last two feet,” Llave said.
He reiterated the color messages, saying that yellow means every family must prepare for possible evacuation, green means everyone should seek high ground while red alert, residents are required to flee and relocate to evacuation center to prevent loss of lives.
He also said that other government agencies and stakeholders have been monitoring the situation in all barangays, including roads and bridges in Barangay Obligacion and a portion of the provincial road from Sitio Curva, Suklayin to Sitio Setan, Calabuanan at the portion of national road between Pudoc Bridge and Aguang Bridge in Barangay Buhangin.
Sitio Dicaloyungan temporary overflow bridge is also susceptible to floodings because of the strong current of water coming from the mountain which cut off transportation going from Pingit to Zabali.
Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) records showed that out of 151 barangays in Aurora, 72 are prone to floods in addition to 18 roads and eight bridges.
Forty-seven percent of the barangays are flood-prone, particularly those located along river banks and coastal areas.
Of the 72 barangays, 19 are in Casiguran, 14 in Dipaculao, 10 in this capital town, eight in Maria Aurora, seven in Dingalan, six in Dinalungan, four in San Luis and four in Dilasag.
Nueva Ecija officials also ordered villagers in low-lying communities to preemptively evacuate.
Maybelle Blossom Dumlao-Sevillena, provincial administrator, said she has issued an advisory and order to the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (PDRRMO) to cause the preemptive evacuation among villagers living near rivers and creeks.
“This is a move to prevent any untoward incident that may happen during the onslaught of Typhoon Lando in the province,” she said.
Typhoon Lando has triggered alarm among local government unit officials here due to its strong winds and possible heavy rains.
Dumlao-Sevillena said that while dredging of canals has been undertaken by local government units in the province before the rainy season, heavy rains spawned by typhoons might bring flashfloods to low-lying villages.
Officials and technical personnel of the Department of Public Works and Highways were also put on alert over the possible occurrence of landslides along the national highway from Diadi to Sta. Fe towns.
The move aims to prevent congestion of traffic among commuters going in and outside the province which serves as the gateway to Cagayan Valley region.
Classes, flight cancellations
CLASSES were suspended in in Cavite, Laguna, Nueva Ecija and Albay on Saturday while Pasay City (Metro Manila) suspended classes in colleges and universities.
Classes are also automatically suspended in areas with public storm warning signals.
At least eight domestic flights were cancelled due to the storm.
Among those include the Manila-Cauayan and vice versa route; Manila-Tugegarao and vice versa; Manila to Naga and vice versa.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said more than 3,000 people have been stranded in seaports in Luzon after authorities prohibited boats from sailing.
As of 8 a.m., Saturday, a total of 3,155 people have been stranded in sea ports in Bicol, Southen Tagalog and Northern Luzon.
It added that a total of 37 vessels, seven motor bancas and 423 rolling cargos were also stranded.
Blessing in disguise
The expected heavy rainfall may be a blessing in disguise as it is expected to fill up dams and help ease the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.
Admiral Pama said several dams in Luzon may benefit from the rains. These are: Angat, Ipo, La Mesa, Ambuklao, Binga, San Roque, Pantabangan, Magat and Caliraya.
Pama said that these dams are now being closely monitored.
With AFP and PNA