Caraga on red alert for ‘Ruby’; classes suspended in Malaybalay on Friday

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/04 December) – Super typhoon Ruby (international codename: Hagupit) is not expected to make landfall in Mindanao, but the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC) and the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Caraga region were not taking chances.

Both agencies have implemented a red alert status and mobilized all disaster response units and stakeholders in preparation for Ruby.

Liza Mazo, regional director RDRRMC-Caraga pointed out the importance of preparedness and preparing for the worst.

Mazo, who also heads the regional OCD emphasized that the preparation should go down to all local risk reduction disaster councils.

“Because of that we are on Red alert status and we advise all local DRRMCs to do the same. We have advised them to activate their incident command system, conduct pre-emptive evacuation in high risk areas, and preposition response assets such as personnel, equipment, food, supplies and evacuation centers,” she added.

She said the region must prepare for the effects of storm surge along its coast, landslides and flash floods that may occur due to heavy rain.

The OCD office in Butuan City has been transformed into an operations hub for faster reporting and coordination among key government agencies.

As of Thursday morning, representatives of the Department of Science and Technology, Bureau of Fire Protection and the Department of Interior and Local Government had reported at the command post. Twelve more government agencies were yet to send their representatives.

“As of this morning here in Caraga region, the Surigao provinces including Dinagat Island have been issued public storm warning signal number 1. Since the typhoon has a 700-kilometer diameter we expect to be affected by the heavy rain it is carrying and coastal areas would be affected by the strong winds and possible storm surges,” said Lolita Vinalay, chief meteorological officer of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration in Butuan.

Vinalay said Ruby was expected to make landfall in Eastern Samar by Saturday morning.

In Malaybalay City, Mayor Ignacio Zubiri issued on Thursday an executive order suspending classes from the preschool to high school levels on Friday, Dec. 5, as a precautionary measure for Ruby.

In Executive Order No. 32 series of 2014, Zubiri cited that the decision came as a “unanimous recommendation” from members of the City DDRRMC in a meeting Thursday.

He said Bukidnon has been included “among the provinces to be affected by the said weather disturbance which will bring strong winds and rains as forecasted by the state weather agency.”

There were posts in social media criticizing the city government for delayed suspension of classes in previous storms.

Arsenio Alagenio, operations manager of the Provincial DRRMC said the city’s move is “advance” and that there were no declarations of suspension of classes yet in the rest of Bukidnon.

He noted that the PDRRMC met Thursday afternoon to assess their capacity and readiness to respond in case typhoon Ruby would affect Bukidnon.

“We are ready and we are alerting the local DRRMCs around the province,” he added. (Erwin Mascarinas and Walter I. Balane/MindaNews)