CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/ 1 December)–Authorities here are looking at evacuating at least 15,000 families living in critical areas along the Cagayan de Oro River ahead of typhoon Pablo (international code name: Bopha), the strongest storm feared to hit the Philippines this year.
Engr. Armen Cuenca, assistant disaster officer, said the evacuation may start on Sunday night or early Monday when the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) expects the storm to hit a landfall somewhere in Bohol in the Visayas.
He said the local government might resort to forced evacuation if PAGASA hoists a red alert over Cagayan de Oro on Monday.
“We do not want a repetition of Sendong. This time we aim to have a zero casualty rate,” Cuenca said in press conference Saturday.
At least 700 residents here died while 417 persons remained missing when tropical storm Sendong struck the city and nearby Iligan City on December 17, 2011.
Sendong was the deadliest cyclone to hit the country in recent years with the death toll in both cities breaching the 1,000-mark and affected half-a-million residents.
Cuenca said that evacuation centers will be set up in Barangays 21, 10, Camaman-an, Indahag and Agusan in the eastern side of the city.
Across the Cagayan de Oro River, Cuenca said that evacuation centers would rise in Barangays Carmen, Patag, Kauswagan, Bulua, Xavier Heights and Iponan.
“On Monday, fire trucks and police vehicles will sound their sirens all around the critical areas. This will signal the forced evacuation that we will be implementing ahead of the typhoon,” Cuenca said.
Councilor Adrian Barba said police officers will be authorized by the city government to enforce the mandatory evacuation as soon as PAGASA raises the red alert.
“There will be no ifs or buts. Police will knock in every houses and evacuate all the people,” Barba said.
Barba said the city government has already prepared the necessary foodstuffs for the anticipated influx of residents who will be evacuated. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)