THE Department of Education (DepEd) on Thursday called on the administrators of schools in the projected path of Typhoon Hagupit (Ruby) to take precautionary measures as it announced that classes in several areas have already been suspended.
“We have issued advisories for dissemination to school heads. These (precautionary measures) cover proper safekeeping of equipment, books, records, etc,” DepEd Assistant Secretary Reynaldo Laguda told The Manila Times.
Laguda also noted that DepEd would be supporting the evacuation efforts of local government units (LGU). He reminded the administrators of schools designated as evacuation centers to immediately inform their respective division offices of the designation.
“For affected areas, they (school heads) are in consultation with local disaster risk reduction management council on need for pre-emptive class suspension,” he said.
The education department also reminded the public of the automatic suspension of classes in areas where public storm warning signals are raised.
Classes in preschool are automatically suspended in areas under signal no. 1, classes in elementary schools and high schools are suspended in areas under signal no. 2, while classes in all levels are suspended under storm signal no. 3.
Laguda said classes in all levels in the provinces of Biliran, Leyte, Tacloban City and Catbalogan City are suspended until Friday.
Meanwhile, classes in all levels in the following areas have already been suspended: Biliran province (December 4 to 5) and Culaba, Biliran (December 5 only).
The following schools, colleges, and universities have also announced the suspension of classes: The Tacloban campus of the University of the Philippines-Visayas (classes to resume on December 11) and the Visayas State University (December 4 to 5).
Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Sec. Mario Montejo, for his part, told local chief executives of LGUs in the path of the typhoon to “prepare for the worst.”
Montejo called on local officials to apply what they have learned from a series of workshops on disaster risk reduction and mitigation launched by the DOST and the Department of Interior and Local Government in all 17 regions over the summer.
The DOST on Thursday also released a storm surge simulation model indicating that the provinces of Samar and Leyte, which were heavily devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda last year, are likely to be inundated as a result of the projected onslaught of Typhoon Hagupit.
The model, which was presented by Project NOAH (Nationwide Operational Assessment of Hazards) Executive Director Mahar Lagmay, initially covered Samar and Leyte since they fall right along the path of typhoon
“We will be updating the height of the surges every six hours, and we will put it on Project NOAH website because this is only as good as the typhoon forecast. This includes the maps of the storm surge inundation,” he said.
Lagmay said that based on Thursday’s 10 a.m. forecast by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, the concentration of the storm surge, which may rise three to four meters, may be seen in Northern Leyte, Samar, Basey and Tacloban.
During Yolanda, the storm surge in the cited areas went as high as five to six meters.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned that volcanic debris from two of the most active volcanoes in the Bicol region might cascade to low-lying areas because of the heavy rains that Typhoon Hagupit is expected to bring.
Ed Laguerta, chief resident volcanologist of Phivolcs , explained that heavy rains might “remobilize” the lahar that currently settles on the slopes of Mounts Mayon in Albay and Bulusan in Sorsogon.
“Most probably the remnants of 2006 eruption and in quarrying sites of volcanic debris will cause the remobilization of lahar in low lying areas of Mayon volcano. Based on Phivolcs study at 6 mm per hour precipitation it could initiate remobilization of volcanic materials,” Laguerta said.
Code Blue alert
Meanwhile, the Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday declared a Code Blue alert covering all DOH-retained hospitals in Regions IV-B (MIMAROPA), V (Bicol), VI (Western Visayas), VII (Central Visayas), and VIII (Eastern Visayas).
A Code Blue alert means that 50 percent of all hospital personnel are required to report for duty to render medical services.
The DOH said that the declaration is part of the agency’s disaster preparedness measure aimed at mitigating the anticipated impact of Typhoon Hagupit on local communities.
WITH REPORTS FROM RHAYDZ B. BARCIA AND MARIS LALOG