Bishop calls on churches: open doors to evacuees

Legazpi City---As Bicol disaster officials prepare for Tropical Depression Ambo, Bishop Joel “Bong” Z. Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi has urged clergies in different parishes to open their doors to evacuees across Albay province.

“As LGUs and communities now prepare for the typhoon, I urge our parish priests to offer their churches, halls or other safe spaces, and chapels as additional evacuation centers in view of social distancing measures, which mean lesser number of families to be accommodated in the regular evacuation centers,” Baylon said.

Citing the current PAGASA forecast, the prelate said that the weather disturbance is making the fight against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) even more difficult here.

“According to current forecasts, Bicol region, including parts of Albay, most likely will be hit by typhoon Ambo. This bad weather makes our fight against COVID-19 even more difficult,” Baylon said.

He also urged families with safe and spacious homes or buildings, especially those in Covid-19 low risk areas, to accommodate their vulnerable neighbors so they wont crowd evacuation centers.

“Times of crisis are also times to practice our faith in action. Let us pray to God, thru the intercession of our Mother of Salvation, for zero casualty. Let us support our LGUs and one another to make this happen,” he said.

Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara ordered all disaster officials in three cities and 15 towns in the province to mandatorily implement evacuation on Wednesday (May 13) after noon till early Thursday (May 14) of families living in areas vulnerable to flood, storm surges, lahar flow, and those living in houses made of light materials.

“All municipal and city disaster risk reduction management offices (DRRMO) are hereby advised to execute evacuation as early as Wednesday afternoon and up to early morning of Thursday with strict adherence to Covid-19 health standard protocol,” Bichara said.

Bichara also ordered the activation of city and municipal DRRMO to be on close monitoring of the status of TD Ambo. The BDRRMC are also ordered to be on preparedness status.

The PDRRMC advised all city and municipal DRRMO’s to initiate local measures and to closely monitor vulnerable areas for appropriate and timely action for disaster avoidance.

Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office – Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (APSEMO-PDRRMO) chief Cedric Daep conducted an emergency meeting on Thursday, May 7 in preparation for Typhoon Ambo.

Daep said that Covid-19 protocols currently being implemented by the provincial government will be integrated as part of the preparation for the aforementioned typhoon, such as:

Separate isolation room for sick individuals and senior citizen; evacuation centers used as quarantine facilities will not be recommended for typhoon evacuation; practice social distancing; and wearing of mask during evacuation.

To ensure that social distancing will be followed, Daep said that each evacuation room will only accommodate a maximum of four families.

Preparation for evacuation has started Wednesday (May 13) afternoon.