By ELLALYN B. DE VERA
Manila Bulletin, Monday, 18 October 2010
- Signal No. 4 up in Cagayan, Isabela
- Classes suspended in N. Luzon
- Evacuation begins
- Power grid, rescuers ready
MANILA, Philippines – Northern Luzon where it is expectedTyphoon “Juan” (international name: Megi) intensified into a “super typhoon” as it roared closer to to make landfall this morning, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said Sunday.
Storm Signal No. 4 (winds above 185 kilometers per hour) had already been hoisted in Cagayan and Isabela provinces at 4 p.m. Sunday, said PAGASA Weather Forecasting Section Chief Robert Sawi as “Juan” packed maximum sustained winds of up to 225 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 260 kph.
Technically, PAGASA does not have a “super typhoon” category, but Sawi explained that the United States-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center declares a cyclone as a super typhoon when its winds exceed 215 kph near the center.
As of 5 p.m. Sunday, the eye of the typhoon was located at 390 kilometers (km) east of Aparri, Cagayan and moving westward at 22 kilometers per hour (kph).
“There is a 90 percent chance of landfall over the Cagayan area, then it will cross Apayao, and exit Ilocos Norte,” said PAGASA weather forecaster Aldczar Aurelio.
PAGASA projected that the super typhoon would make landfall in Aparri, Cagayan, at 8 a.m. Monday and dump an estimated rainfall of 22 mm/hr.
Sawi said Juan which will be at 100 km east of Aparri or 50 km southeast of Laoag City this afternoon, can possibly exit the country also Monday.
Areas placed Sunday under Signal No. 3 (winds of 101-185 kph is expected in at least 18 hours) were Batanes, Calayan and Babuyan Groups of Islands, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Quirino and Northern Aurora.
Signal No. 2 (winds of 61-100 kph is expected in at least 24 hours) was hoisted over Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Abra, La Union, Benguet, Nueva Vizcaya, and the rest of Aurora.
Signal No. 1 (winds of 30-60 kph is expected within the next 36 hours) was raised in Pangasinan, Tarlac, Nueva Ecija, and Polillo Island.
Classes have already been suspended in Regions 1, 2 and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR).
PRE-EMPTIVE EVACUATION BEGINS IN CAGAYAN
As this developed, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council or NDRRMC (formerly the National Disaster Coordinating Council) ordered the pre-emptive evacuation of families living in high-risk areas as early as Sunday.
In Tuguegarao City, all families in coastal areas who are expected to be directly affected by the projected landfall the typhoon this morning have begun evacuations.
In a phone interview, Cagayan’s Social Welfare and Development Officer Edna Junio said as of press time that the different rescue groups are busy helping the local residents in going to the designated preemptive evacuation centers in the province.
“These residents are living along the river banks and coastal areas in Buguey, Gonzaga, Sta. Ana, Ballesteros up to Aparri towns in our province,” Junio said.
Meanwhile, Executive Director Benito Ramos of the NDRRMC, said that aside from Cagayan province, many families are also tend to evacuate in the province of Nueva Ecija especially those living near the Casili River, San Mariano River, and Chico River.
RESCUE TEAMS READY
Lt. Col. Edgard Arevalo, Navy Public Affairs Office (NPAO) director said the Philippine Navy’s disaster response task groups (DRTG) have been on alert since Friday in preparation for Juan, the strongest storm to enter the country this year, so far.
Arevalo said the DRTGs are prepositioned at the Naval Forces Northern Luzon (NFNL) in La Union, Naval Forces Southern Luzon (NFSL) in Legaspi City, and the Fleet-Marine Ready Force’s (FMRF) task units in the Manila-Cavite areas.
“In Northern Luzon, three teams are on standby with two teams located at the NFNL Headquarters.
The third team at the Naval detachment Bonoan is manned by naval reservists to augment the Navy’s regular force in the area,” said Arevalo, adding that each team has 10 personnel and equipped with a rubber boat and other life-saving equipment.
Meanwhile, two teams are also on standby at the Naval Education and Training Command (NETC) in San Antonio, Zambales to respond to citizens in need.
Arevalo said a team of Navy SEALS are also on standby. Augmenting these teams are naval ROTC cadets.
In Manila, two teams from the Naval Reserve Command (NRC) in Intramuros are on standby with 10 personnel each team.
NATIONAL GRID BRACES FOR STORM
Power transmission service provider and system operator National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) said Sunday it was all set to activate its command centers Sunday in preparation for the expected landfall of the typhoon Monday.
The NGCP’s system operations and operations and maintenance personnel in Luzon and Visayas have been enjoined to make all necessary precautions to minimize the impact of the typhoon.
To coordinate contingency measures in all NGCP facilities in the path of the typhoon, command centers at the head office, regional and district levels will be activated 24 hours before landfall.
Monitoring of grid conditions, assessment of damages, supervision over rehabilitation and restoration works, and documentation will all be done at the command centers.
All telecommunication facilities, equipment, tools and vehicles have been secured and groups of linemen have been organized and prepared to be deployed at any emergency.
M.M.D.A., MAYORS ACTIVATE DISASTER RESPONSE UNITS
Still on alert for the possible damage to be caused by the super typhoon, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and lead government agencies in disaster response situations have activated personnel and equipment ready to respond in any emergency.
In an emergency meeting with government agencies held Sunday, MMDA chairman Francis Tolentino assured the public of their readiness when typhoon Juan hit Metro Manila.
“We have synchronized all measures that we have undertaken should typhoon Juan bring a large amount of rain in the metropolis. Key government agencies expressed readiness to assist the public in worst scenarios prepared to cope with the possible destruction of typhoon Juan in the unlikely event it will hit Metro Manila,” said Tolentino.
On Sunday, the MMDA chief presided inter-agency meeting attended by Metro Manila Police Director Chief Superintendent Nicanor Bartolome and representatives from the Armed Forces of the Philippines-National Capital Region Command (AFP-NCR-Com), the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) where they presented their reports. (With reports from Elena L. Aben, Freddie G. Lazaro, and Anna Liza T. Villas)