SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews/25 December) — Forced evacuation is now in place in Siargao Islands, the country’s surfing capital, following the intensification of tropical depression Quinta into a tropical storm.
Public storm warning signal number 2 has been hoisted over the province of Dinagat Islands and Siargao Island in Surigao del Norte while six other provinces – the two Agusans and two Surigaos, Misamis Oriental and Camiguin – have been placed under storm signal number 1 by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA),
At 4 a.m., PAGASA said Quinta was expected to make landfall over Dinagat Islands Wednesday morning but by 1 p.m. it was moving closer towards Eastern Visayas at 170 kilometers east of Guiuian, Eastern Samar.
In a joint meeting of the provincial and city Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Committee Christmas morning, Engr. Marilyn Pono said orders have been relayed to the Department of Education, the Philippine National Police and the DRRMCs in Siargao Islands for the immediate evacuation of residents to public schools or houses made of sturdy materials.
The Provincial Engineering Office was also instructed to coordinate with the engineering district in the island for the use of three brand new dump trucks for the evacuation of residents especially in coastal areas.
“They will really have to carry these people to evacuate. We have already informed the municipal DRRMCs and the problem now will basically who will go with them to tell the people to evacuate. So we’re coordinating with the police already,” Pono said.
In Surigao City, Vice Mayor Danilo Menor who sat as chair in the absence of Mayor Ernesto Matugas, and CDRRM Officer Atty. Emmanuel Corro ordered a preemptive evacuation in all mainland and island barangays particularly in landslide- and flood-prone areas.
Menor also said a “special communication” will be transmitted in Brgy. Mat-i, this city, where small-scale mining activities are actively operating.
“We will inform the barangay in a special and separate communication for the preemptive evacuation,” said Pabla Bonono, president of the Association of Barangay Captains.
Ralph Rowan, City Quick Action Response Team (QART) head said his men based in Mat-i sub-station are already on alert.
Three sitios in the barangay, namely Bedrock, Bakahan and Pinaypayan are considered landslide-prone areas by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau).
Rowan said QART responders are already embedded in the area since accidents happen there sporadically.
In General Luna, Siargao, Mayor Jaime Rusillon said he has not issued a forced evacuation in his hometown as he will await the 5 p.m. weather bulletin issued by PAG-ASA. He said his initial computation of the weather condition indicates that Quintana will likely pass the Sta. Monica area.
“According to the forecast, its 10.3 north ang position and Gen. Luna is Latitude 3. Sta. Monica is Latitude 9 so it’s likely that it will pass Sta. Monica,” he said.
Residents, however, have been alerted since Monday when Quinta was still a low pressure area, and that he had told islanders to evacuate to houses that are “malig-on” or strong.
School officials have been instructed to open their doors once strong winds and rain are felt.
The mayor said that as of Tuesday noon, General Luna was experiencing fair weather. He described the weather as “downcast sky but no rains and winds.”
In its advisory, PAGASA warned residents living in low lying and mountainous areas against possible flashfloods and landslides.
Quinta is the second typhoon to hit Mindanao in three weeks after super typhoon Pablo battered Davao Oriental, Compostela Valley, portions of Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur and Bukidnon on December 4. It is also the third in 12 months after Typhoon Sendong struck the cities of Cagayan de Oro and Iligan City and portions of Bukidnon,
Before Sendong, Pablo and now Quinta, Mindanao had been repeatedly referred to as “typhoon-free” but for the northeastern part.
Pablo left behind 1,067 residents dead, 1,050 of that from Mindanao while Sendong left behind 1,268 residents dead, 1,227 of that from Mindanao. (Vanessa L. Almeda, Carolyn O. Arguillas/MindaNews)