LEGAZPI CITY: Super Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) flattened houses in some areas in Bicol as it crept across the region over the weekend, causing boulders as big as cars to tumble into low lying villages in Albay.
Meanwhile, storm surges reaching as high as 15 feet gulped down houses along the coastal areas of Masbate, Sorsogon, and Albay.
Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) Regional Director Bernardo Alejandro on Sunday also announced that initial assessments point to the island province of Masbate as the worst hit area in the Bicol region.
Preceded by surges
Alejandro, who also heads the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC), revealed that they received reports of massive storm surges slamming into Masbate’s coasts even before Typhoon Ruby made landfall on Saturday.
The official noted that no casualty has been reported as of press time.
In Albay, specifically in the coastal areas of Sabang, Pigcale, Baybay and San Roque in Legazpi City, numerous houses made of light materials were either engulfed by storm surges or half-buried in sand.
Meanwhile, Col. Perfecto Peñaredondo, commander of the Philippine Army’s 2nd Infantry Battalion based in Tula-Tula Grande, Ligao City, said big boulders and other volcanic debris tumbled into Maipon village in Guinobatan town.
However, Ed Laguerta, resident volcanologist of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, said later on Sunday that the debris came from a nearby quarrying site.
Laguerta had warned that heavy rains brought by Typhoon Ruby could remobilize lahar from Mounts Bulusan in Sorsogon and Mayon in Albay.
The warning prompted Gov. Joey Salceda of Albay to order the evacuation of more people, particularly residents of lahar-prone areas.
“I authorized [the]Albay Public Safety Emergency Management Office to implement the order to evacuate all vulnerable population with a target of 123,217 families including 19,000 at risk to storm surge, 29,000 to lahar from upper slope landslides in Mayon, 40,000 to flooding, 40,000 to wind for houses made of light materials and 14,600 to landslides,” the governor said.
Salceda, meanwhile, expressed confidence that the province will register a zero-casualty rate because of early evacuations.
“Albay will achieve zero casualty goals through pre-emptive evacuation and family preparedness. Don’t venture out, Ruby still has her fangs,” he warned residents.
Meanwhile, fisherfolk in the coastal areas of Cavite were told by local officials over the weekend to evacuate and secure their boats in preparation for the expected arrival of Typhoon Ruby in the province on Monday afternoon.
On Saturday, fisherfolk were ordered to anchor their fishing boats to prevent them from being swept away by storm surges.
Local officials of Cavite, in cooperation with the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), meanwhile, readied manpower and equipment, including rubber boats, life vests, flashlights, and food packs, for rescue and relief operations.
Cavite Provincial Police Director Jonnel Estomo announced that he has placed the Cavite Provincial Police Office under full alert status.
This means that all police personnel are on standby and on duty for 24 hours to address emergencies.
Gov. Jonvic Remulla of Cavite has also suspended work and classes in all levels on Monday and Tuesday. The work suspension order does not cover government agencies responsible for emergency response and relief operations such as the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the PDRRMC.
WITH REPORTS FROM ROGELIO LIMPIN