Possibility that Yolanda may hit Caraga not ruled out

 BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/ 07 Nov) — The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) here said the possibility that super typhoon Yolanda might change course and make landfall in Caraga region should not be ruled out.

Lolita Vinalay, chief meteorological officer, Butuan PAGASA station said the movement of the super typhoon should be closely monitored for any changes of its path.

“Caraga region should prepare for typhoon Yolanda since it might still change its path and hit directly the region. Factors like the atmospheric condition can influence the direction where the typhoon might be headed,” she said.

Vinalay noted that if the typhoon will change to a westward direction it will directly hit Caraga region and affect much of Mindanao.

Liza Mazo, regional director, Office of Civil Defense (OCD) said Caraga “should be prepared for the worst case scenario” because like typhoon Pablo on December 4, 2012,  “Yolanda might suddenly change its direction at the very last minute. Right now with its present path even if it will not directly hit Caraga region but it will still affect the entire region since the typhoon’s diameter covers about 600 kilometers.”

Super typhoon Pablo was expected to make landfall in Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur but landed instead in Baganga, Davao Oriental.

Mazo, also chair of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC), recommended the preemptive suspension of classes in all levels.

“Classes should be suspended throughout the region starting tomorrow and I recommend the regional contingency plan with other government agencies should be activated immediately,” she said.

Police Chief Superintendent Getulio Napenas, regional director, Caraga Police Regional Office 13 oredered all the provincial commanders to “closely monitor their respective areas and to mobilize the necessary search and rescue gears and equipment in their disposal. There should be forward deployment of police personnel especially in the previously identified disaster prone areas.”

Napenas added that teams from the Regional Public Safety Battalion are now on stand by and are ready to be deployed to different areas in Caraga.

“Vehicles together with the RPSB have been mobilized in case of emergency. I have also instructed our municipal and city police heads to closely coordinate with their respective local government units and assist especially in implementing forced evacuation when needed,” he said.

Butuan City mayor Ferdinand Amante Jr.,  ordered the  suspension of classes in all levels in Butuan City on November 6 and 7.

According to the City DRRMC, they are preparing for possibilities of landslides in Barangay Nung-nung, Maibo, Bilay and Salvacion.

““We are not worried of flooding from the Agusan river since the level is normal, so what we are looking into when the typhoon will arrive is the strong wind it carries with it and its effect on the community,” Bong Catedral of the CDRRMC said in a local television interview.

But Vinalay said there is a big possibility the super typhoon will bring massive rainfall in the area.

“The rainfall density if we will observe the satellite image would suggest intense concentration in the center of the Typhoon and moderate to heavy rain throughout the typhoons diameter,” she said.

In Butuan City, about 3,000 food packs have been prepared in the warehouse which consists of three kilos of rice, coffee, canned goods and noodles for the relief operations when needed. (Erwin Mascarinas / MindaNews)