• Provinces, cities prepare for ‘Ruby’

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    More than 200,000 people in several coastal barangays were

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    already targeted for evacuation to government-designated shelters as typhoon Ruby continues with its   projected westward path.

    In Tacloban City, at least 17,416 individuals voluntarily flocked to 18 designated evacuation centers without even waiting for an order from their city officers. They were allegedly traumatized by their experiences with last year’s Yolanda, a super typhoon that left more than 3,000 dead.

    In Albay province, Governor Joey Salceda ordered the evacuation of at least 183,180 families that maybe affected by floods, landslides and storm surges. Albay is known for its pre-emptive moves that give a zero-casualty rate in time of calamities.

    Ilo-ilo city declared a pre-emptive evacuation of at least 30 coastal barangays, a move that is also eyed in at least six coastal barangay in Limay town, Bataan province.

    The entire Cavite Provincial Police force was also placed on full alert, preparing its members for quick responses to probable calls for help.

    As of yesterday afternoon, the typhoon maintained its strength at 215 kilometers per hour (kph) near the epicenter with gustiness of up to 250kph, according to PAGASA. It also appeared to have slowed down to only 15 kph, as opposed to its previous day’s speed of 35 kph.

    Traumatic experience
    Ildebrando Bernadas, Tacloban city disaster risk reduction and management officer, said people no longer waited for the government to ask them to seek shelter before the storm comes, a decision that may have been influenced by their “traumatic experience.”

    About 3,000 people died in last year’s Yolanda, raising people’s consciousness about disaster preparedness.

    Of the 17,416 evacuees, Eastern Visayas State University has the most number of evacuees at 5,350 persons. The Tacloban Astrodome, which is the biggest among the evacuation centers (with a capacity of 7,000 people), has only 200 evacuees though.

    Bernadas opined that this could have been due to the fact that the Astrodome, located near the shore, was hit by the Yolanda storm surge.

    “The building has been proven as disaster resilient, but we cannot blame people if they don’t want to take shelter there since it was inundated by seawater during Yolanda,” Bernadas said.

    In San Jose district, where more than a thousand perished of storm surge last year, some areas turned out to be ghost villages as people moved to safer grounds since Wednesday.

    “I don’t want to experience the same ordeal again. Our entire family is moving to a school in Abucay district where there are no threats of big waves,” said Lorena Varon, 27 of Taguictic village in San Jose, a community near the city’s airport.

    The government units have already prepared the food packs and other relief items that will be distributed to those affected by the pre-emptive move.

    In Albay, Governor Joey Salceda asked for 30 military trucks that will be used to evacuate 183,180 families or close to 600,000 people.

    “We’re preparing for a super typhoon Reming-like event here. Half of Albay’s population will be evacuated because a storm surge affects everyone—the rich and the poor. Families in the (coastal) towns will be evacuated to safer grounds,” he said.

    Oriental Mindoro Governor Alfonso “Boy” Umali also ordered all local agencies to prepare for the worst and ready food packs and other relief items that will be distributed as soon as the need arise.

    Although there is no storm signal yet in Oriental Mindoro, Umali opted to be on the safe side as he also asked the Philippine Ports Authority to suspend the fast craft and ro-ro ship operations.

    In Bataan, Mayor Roque said he has already asked the fishermen in the identified coastal barangays to refrain from going out to sea while the country is not cleared of the storm yet. He added that he has already ordered the distribution of food packs to help the fishermen out.

     with BELLY M. OTORDOZ, ROGELIO LIMPIN, ERNIE B. ESCONDE with reports from the PNA

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