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‘Ofel’ causes flood, landslides

Sporadic landslides and floods affected some areas in the provinces of Sorsogon, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte, andf Albay as Tropical Depression (TD) ‘Ofel’ brought heavy rainfall across the region since Tuesday night untill Wednesday (Oct. 13-14), the government weather forecasting agency said.

The Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) hoisted public weather signal 1 in the six provinces of Bicol on Oct. 14.

“Ofel” made its first landfall in the vicinity of Can-avid, Eastern Samar at 2:30 AM on Oct. 13 and made another landfall in Masbate province.

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) led by Claudio Yucot ordered all local disaster risk reduction and management councils in the region to activate their respective emergency operation centers and implement response and contingency plans, to include pre-emptive evacuation in areas threatened by flood, landslide, lahar flow, and storm surges.

Following Pagasa’s warning on heavy rainfall, Albay Gov. Al Francis Bichara ordered local government units to implement localized evacuation of families residing in flood and landslide-prone areas, and those who my be affected by lahar flow and storm surge in coastal communities in the province.

Bichara directed on Oct. 14 various local disaster councils to evacuate residents living in flood and landslide-prone areas across the province as Bicol braced for moderate to heavy rains brought by TD “Ofel.” “For public safety, the PDRRMC advises cities and municipal disaster councils to activate evacuation of threaten population for flood, landslide, flashflood and debris flow. Put in place plan for possible localize evacuation of coastal population along Albay seaboard,” Bichara said.

The Albay governor also stressed the no sailing policy in all coastal water in Albay as well as residents were advised to avoid all river channels.

Cedric Daep, chief of Albay Public Safety Emergency and Management Office (APSEMO) said Tropical Depression Ofel made a second landfall in Masbate province at noon on Oct. 14 bringing heavy rains and strong winds to Albay’s second and third district.

Daep said moderate to heavy rains affected towns along the west coast area, which include Libon, Oas, Pioduran, Manito, and Legazpi City.

“Moderate to heavy rains, once it exceeds the rainfall threshold, could endanger communities prone to floods, lahar, and landslides so we are recommending localized evacuation in these areas,” he said. Once the preemptive evacuation is done, Daep asked the local disaster officials to strictly enforce the Covid-19 minimum health standards, which involves wearing of face mask, face shield, and physical distancing.

At the evacuation centers, Daep said that disaster responders should check the temperature of every evacuee and maintain physical distancing by allowing only four families per room.

Daep said that at some 100,000 individuals need to be evacuated to safer grounds.

Legazpi Mayor Noel Rosal also ordered the evacuation of residents in Mayon unit areas threatened by lahar flow specifically the villages of Mabinit, Matanag, Bonga, and adjacent areas.

Guinobatan Mayor Gemma Ongjoco likewise directed the evacuation of some 800 people in the villages of Maninila and Tandarora within Mayon units for safety.

These two villages are threatened by flooding and lahar flow. Ongjoco hired public utility jeepneys to evacuate the residents on Oct. 14.

The Philippine Coast Guard has canceled sea transport operations in all seaports in Bicol region.

Some 526 passengers, 156 trucks, and 41 cars were stranded on Wednesday following the cancellation of sea transport operations in various Bicol seaports due to TD “Ofel”.

The cancellation also affected 17 sea vessels, 11 of which took shelter in the ports of Sorsogon, Albay and Camarines Sur.

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