4 Mindanao provinces under storm signal No. 1

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 30 Jan) – Still reeling from the floods and landslides brought by tropical depression “Agaton,” Mindanao is again bracing for tropical depression “Basyang” as four Mindanao provinces have been put under storm signal No. 1.

Under signal No. 1 are Surigao del Norte (including Siargao Island), Surigao del Sur, Dinagat Province, Misamis Oriental and Southern Leyte.

The announcement prompted the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) to call on the Caraga Region to be on alert and prepare for the weather disturbance expected to hit the region in the weekend.

“As of Thursday afternoon the storm has not yet entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) but based on the weather forecast model we can tell that it will hit Northern Mindanao and southern Visayas and will bring moderate to heavy rainfall to the entire Caraga region,” said Lolita Vinalay, chief meteorological officer of PAGASA’s Butuan office.

Vinalay reminded that “fishermen should not be heading out to sea as gale warning has been issued by PAGASA for the Surigao provinces, including Dinagat and Siargao Islands.” PAGASA noted that coastal waters throughout the archipelago will be “moderate to rough.”

PAGASA said that as of 4 p.m. today, Basyang’s center was estimated at 1,108 km east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Norte, with maximum winds of 55 kph near the center.

Moving west at 30 kph, PAGASA said “Basyang” is forecast to be at 320 km east northeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur by Friday afternoon and at 90 km north of Cagayan de Oro City by Saturday afternoon.

The weather bureau said that Mindanao will experience cloudy skies with light to moderate rain showers and thunderstorms.

OCD regional director Liza Mazo pointed out that the arrival of “Basyang” will mean problems to areas in Caraga that are still trying to recover from the floods and landslides brought by “Agaton.”

She said they have already issued warnings on the course of actions that should be undertaken by the local government units.

“LGUs should be strict in implementing measures in preparation of the storm. Caraga in particular is very vulnerable due to its geographic location, making it prone to storm surge in the eastern coast and to landslides and flooding along its mountain ranges, valleys and communities close to river systems,” Mazo stressed.

She assured that the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council, which she also heads, is closely monitoring the progress of the tropical depression.

Mazo expressed concerns on the attitude of people in the communities.

“As we are still recuperating from the impact of Agaton, I hope this time people in disaster prone areas would listen and take seriously the warning to prepare and evacuate. Most of those who were trapped during the large flood in Butuan City were those who did not heed the call to evacuate,” she lamented. She said this became a “heavy burden” for the emergency response units.