Preemptive evacuation starts in Bukidnon town

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 7 Nov) – The Valdehueza family, with seven members, is the first family to respond to preemptive evacuation ordered by Mayor Osmundo dela Rosa of Malitbog town in Bukidnon’s first district, bordering Misamis Oriental.

Delia Cabilla, Malitbog Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Officer, told MindaNews via telephone Dela Rosa presided over a meeting Wednesday with the barangay chairs of the town focused only on preparations for typhoon Yolanda.

The Valedehuezas of Purok 6 in Barangay Poblacion told LDRRMC staff in the evacuation center that they were afraid the water level in Malitbog River will rise and flood their riverside house. Cabilla said the family responded to the announcement of barangay officials after the Association of Barangay Council (ABC) meeting Wednesday morning.

Dela Rosa immediately ordered suspension of classes in the town as early as 6:30 a.m. Thursday.

Rain started around 8 a.m. today in the town proper, Cabilla added, but it is just “above rain shower” in volume level until past 1 p.m. when heavy rain started to fall.

Malitbog, hit hard by typhoon Pablo in 2012, is one of six towns under Bukidnon’s first district where Gov. Jose Ma. R. Zubiri Jr. suspended classes as of 10 a.m. today in anticipation of heavy rains, said Hansel Echavez, chief of the Provincial Public Affairs, Information and Assistance (PAIA) office.

Echavez said Zubiri made a verbal declaration even if Bukidnon is not placed under any typhoon signal by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) because of the province’s proximity to Cagayan de Oro City and Misamis Oriental, which the weather bureau placed under storm signal no. 1 as of Wednesday night.

Aside from Malitbog, the Bukidnon first district covers the towns of Manolo Fortich, Sumilao, Libona, Baungon, and Talakag.

Zubiri, as quoted by Echavez, said the suspension is in anticipation of heavy rains in those areas “anyway it might be too late to wait for the typhoon signal placement.”

Echavez said the governor did not make it a written memo as of Thursday morning but personally called the mayors of the towns to alert them of the declaration.

He said the declaration covers suspension of classes in all levels and work for both public and private entities.

During the strike of typhoon Sendong in 2011, the towns of Baungon, Libona, Talakag, and Manolo Fortich were among those hardly hit in the province.

As of 10 a.m. provincial administrator Albert Lagamon also urged members of the province’s two rescue teams to be on alert in an emergency meeting. The two teams were asked to be on alert on a 24-hour basis.

Malaybalay Vice Mayor Roland Deticio also presided over an emergency meeting of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Thursday morning where the alert level was raised, especially to those who live near rivers and other vulnerable places.

Close monitoring by the area command centers throughout the city was ordered.