CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 3 Dec) – Same predicament, same evacuation centers.
Thousands of residents here today jostled aboard trucks, Multicabs, motorelas or anything that could take them to the evacuation centers, to the same shelters where they sought refuge during tropical storm Sendong last year.
Learning from mistakes last year, city disaster rescue officials ordered a preemptive evacuation Monday afternoon after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) hoisted signal no. 3 over Cagayan de Oro City, the entire Caraga Region and five other Mindanao provinces.
At 2 p.m. Monday, fire trucks with their sirens wailing were sent to 41 “high-risk” barangays urging residents to evacuate early and go to designated evacuation shelters.
Engr. Armen Cuenca, Cagayan de Oro assistant disaster rescue officer, said evacuation was still ongoing as of 8 p.m.
“We still have until noon tomorrow before typhoon Pablo will hit Cagayan de Oro or nearby areas. We still have time,” Cuenca said.
He said they project some 15,000 families or 75,000 persons will be brought to evacuation centers in Cagayan de Oro.
PAGASA expected super typhoon Pablo, which packs 175 kph winds in its center and with gustiness of 210 kph, to hit Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur early morning and Cagayan de Oro Tuesday afternoon.
The Philippine Coast Guard has prevented all interisland ships and fishing vessels from venturing out to sea.
Coast Guard officer Moktar Satal said nine interisland passenger-cargo ships at the Macabalan wharf here have been prevented from sailing.
Many residents could not believe that they will see the same evacuation centers where they lived for months following Sendong’s wrath on December 16 and 17 last year.
Sendong was the deadliest storm that hit the country in recent years, killing over a thousand residents in Cagayan de Oro and Iligan cities and parts of Bukidnon.
“I never imagined that I will spend another night here. In just less than a year, me and my family are occupying the same space,” 60-year-old Puriza Siao said at the evacuation center in Barangay Macasandig.
“But it is better now because we were warned early. I do not have to wake up with water entering my house,” she said.
Siao said she could not forget how she held her five-year-old granddaughter and swam to safety. She said she managed to swim to her brothers’ houses located beside her own.
“I went under the water several times but I held on to my apo (grandchild), she said. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)