4 Northern Mindanao cities, Surigao Norte suspend classes on Friday

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/04 December) — Classes in four cities in Northern Mindanao were ordered suspended on Friday, a day before typhoon Ruby (international code name: Hagupit) is expected to make landfall.

Purito Velez, information officer of the Office of Civil Defense in Region 10, said the local governments of Oroquieta, Ozamiz, and Malaybalay cities have suspended classes from elementary to high school.

Velez said the local governments of Iligan City and the province of Misamis Oriental have suspended classes in all levels also on Friday.

Iligan City Mayor Celso Regencia ordered the suspension of classes in all levels on Friday following the declaration by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration of Lanao del Norte to be under Alert C (with heavy to intense rainfall of 10-20mm/hour rainfall).

“These LGUs have chosen caution and have suspended the classes ahead of typhoon Ruby,” Velez said.

There was no word yet from Cagayan de Oro City whose local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council held a meeting Thursday.

In Surigao del Norte, Governor Sol F. Matugas ordered a suspension of classes in all levels in private and public schools at four o’clock Thursday.

Super typhoon Ruby, packing winds of up to 230 kilometers per hour, is hovering off the coast of Samar and is forecast to make landfall on Saturday.

Typhoon signal no. 1 was hoisted over Camiguin Island at 5pm Thursday afternoon, and trips between Benoni port and Balingoan, Misamis Oriental have also been cancelled by the Philippine Coast Guard.

Velez said the Philippine Army and Bureau of Fire Protection have cancelled all the leaves of their personnel and have directed all their units to prepare.

Maj. Gen. Oscar Lactao, commanding general of the 4th Infantry Division said he has directed all their units to preposition rescue teams in critical areas identified as vulnerable in Caraga and Northern Mindanao.

In Cagayan de Oro, An army rescue team equipped with rubber boats will be prepositioned in Barangay Gusa, near the Bigaan Creek.

Oliver Badel , Department of Social Welfare and Development Region 10 information officer, said survivors of typhoon Sendong were busy repacking relief bags inside a warehouse along Corrales Extension on Thursday.

Badel said they are intending to repack relief bags for 30,000 families in case the situation will worsen this weekend.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration has predicted Ruby to make landfall in Eastern Samar by Saturday.

Gov. Matugas also suspended work in provincial government offices starting Friday, but said a few personnel will be left to respond to urgent matters.

Since Wednesday afternoon the PDRRMC had been meeting to discuss preparations for Ruby, the governor told reporters.

She said all equipment needed for disaster response were already prepared, and relief goods have been prepositioned and evacuation centers identified especially in the 21 island barangays.

“We got clearance to use sea vessel in order to transport food packs and communication apparatus before the typhoon makes landfall,” she said.

“Let’s pray that we’ll be spared from devastation,” she added.

For her part, Dinagat Islands Gov. Glenda B. Ecleo has issued an order for the forced evacuation of residents in coastal communities and areas prone to floods and landslides.

“All Municipal Disaster Risk reduction and Management Councils in Dinagat are enjoined to exhaust mechanisms to ensure the safety of our constituents,” Ecleo said.

“Let’s evacuate as soon as possible. We do evacuation rather than rescue. Let’s also pray and aim for zero casualty,” she said.

In Surigao City, Mayor Ernesto T. Matugas personally went to the barangays urging residents to evacuate as soon as possible, city information chief Annette Villaces said.

The City DRRMC had prepared 18 evacuation centers, food packs, vehicles and heavy equipment.

Panic buying

Panic buying was reported in Surigao City on Thursday.

Calvin Chan, corporate secretary of Metro Surigao told MindaNews on Thursday afternoon that so many customers went to their store to buy goods in preparation of Ruby.

“Sobra dami talagang tao ngayon, ang mga tao nag panic buying na,” he said.

Geonari Plaza, a resident of Barangay Luna, rushed to the store to buy some canned goods. He said a neighbor borrowed 1500 pesos from him to buy goods in case the typhoon hits this city.

Hotels in this city were also fully booked.

April Shane Venu, an employee at the Philippine Gateway Hotel said they were no longer accepting more guests.

Geoffrey Gervo, station commander of the Philippine Coast Guard-Surigao told MindaNews that trips from Surigao City to Dinagat, Siargao, Cebu, Southern Leyte, including the 21 island barangays in Surigao City were cancelled.

Meanwhile, Dulmar Raagas, president of Chamber of Mines in Caraga said all mining companies in the region have prepared their heavy equipment to help in clearing operations.

Possible blackout

Narciso I. Calliao Jr., general manager of Surigao del Norte Electric Cooperative on Thursday said they would automatically cut power supply in case of strong winds.

The Surigao Metropolitan Water District advised their 21,000 household consumers in Surigao City to save water.

SMWD general manager Benjamin R. Ensomo Jr. said they will cut the water supply if the level of water turbidity becomes unsafe for human consumption or if some pipelines will be destroyed during the typhoon. (Froilan Gallardo, Roel N. Catoto and Bobby Timonera/MindaNews)