The southern Bicol provinces of Sorsogon, Masbate and Albay are getting ready for typhoon Yolanda. The howler is expected to bring heavy rains that could cause widespread flooding in the areas.
In the thick of preparations for the coming typhoon, the Department of Education- Bicol regional office has readied schools that will be used as evacuation centers.
Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda conducted a meeting with members of the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk and Reduction Management Council from Davao through Skype.
Typhoon Yolanda has entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) or was located based on all available data at 943 km East of Hinatuan, Surigao Del Sur (8.2°N, 134.9°E). Strength: Maximum sustained winds of 195 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 230 kph. It is forecast to move West Northwest at 30 kph.
Salceda said that based on the Albay PDRRMC statistical database and estimates of impacts, Tropical Storm “Yolanda” is likely to affect 134,248 families or 665,433 persons. The largest risk group is composed of houses made of light materials prone to wind hazard with 46,335 families, he said.
Salceda said second are households in low-lying areas and riverbanks at risk to flood hazards, with 34,453 families. The third group refers to households near lahar deposits – mainly Daraga, Legazpi City, Guinobatan and Camalig- and are at risk to lahar flows, with 22,622 families.
Belonging to the fourth group are households living in coastal barangays that are at risk to storm surge, with 16,292 families. The fifth group includes households living in mountain slopes and are at risk to landslides, involving 14,546 families.
There are descripancies in the data handed down, one report says that Albay PDRRMC estimates that about 27,154 families will be evacuated in case of a storm surge; 57,421 families, in case of flooding; 14,546 families, if flash floods occur; and 37,704 families, if there would be lahar flows.
Despite these numbers, the province always aims for a zero-casualty result. “That’s why these families should be evacuated before Yolanda hits the province,” Salceda said.
He said 165 barangays are prone to landslides while 67 barangays could be affected by mudflows or lahar flows. A total of 484 barangays in Albay, involving 299,396 individuals living in flood-prone areas, could be possibly affected by floods.
The governor asked all local government officials and residents to be always ready to avoid loss of lives.
Starting Thursday, classes in all levels will be suspended to prepare the schools for use as evacuation centers for affected families.
Government and private offices have suspended work for Thursday, except for the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Philippine National Police, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Department of Health and hospitals that are needed in times of calamity.
All regional personnel and equipments of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police have been deployed in places where they could readily be available for the evacuation of affected residents and transport of necessary materials.
Meanwhile, Masbate Governor Rizalina Seachon-Lanete also suspended classes starting Thursday.
Also in Sorsogon, the Philippine Coast Guard will no longer dispatch sea vessels once PAGASA hoists storm signal no. 1 to avoid sea disasters.