Davao Oriental Gov orders preemptive evacuation in preparation for ‘Vinta’

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 Dec) — Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang on Thursday noon ordered a preemptive evacuation of residents  in flood-prone and landslide-prone areas and those living along the shorelines on the northern part of the province which has been placed under storm signal number 2 along with Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur, as tropical strom ‘Vinta’ moved towards Eastern Mindanao.

Dayanghirang activated the province’s Incident Command System (ICS) Wednesday afternoon during an emergency meeting of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) and on Thursday ordered ICS teams to be deployed to “areas that are anticipated to be affected.”

Davao Oriental Governor Nelson Dayanghirang convenes the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Wednesday afternoon at the provincial capitol in Mati City. Photo courtesy of Davao Oriental PIO

Troops from the Philippine Army, Philippine National Police, Philippine Coastguard, as well as volunteer groups have also been mobilized and currently on alert status in preparation for the landfall that is expected “over Caraga – Davao region area” between late Thursday night (December 21) and Friday morning (December 22).

Baganga in the northern part of Davao Oriental was where super typhoon Pablo made landfall on December 4, 2012.

In a statement emailed to the media at 12:39 p.m. Thursday, Dayanghirang said they face yet another challenge due to ‘Vinta’ which is “threatening to bring heavy torrential rains and floods especially on the northern parts of the province, particularly the towns of Boston, Cateel, Baganga, and Caraga. The province has 10 towns and one city.

He urged residents in the affected towns to “do their fair share of the preparation as the government cannot do it alone” and to also “look after themselves and their families by preparing ‘Go Kits” or survival kits packed with food and basic necessities.”

He appealed to the public to be calm. “Let us coordinate and cooperate with the authorities and not be a burden to them. To those who know they are in a danger zone such as in the coastlines, evacuate as soon as possible. For fisherfolk and owners of small seacrafts, do not venture out to sea,” he said.

He also tasked the  PDRRMC to coordinate closely with their counterparts at the municipalities to ensure that all identified evacuation centers are safe and suitable for evacuation and equipped with necessary tools and equipment.  

Signal 1

Placed under Signal 1 are the rest of Davao Oriental, Dinagat Island, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, Misamis Occidental, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, North Cotabato, Maguindanao,  the northern part of Davao del Sur, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, and Zamboanga del Sur, according to the Severe Weather Bulletin 5 issued at 11 a.m. Thursday by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical  and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

Billboards are emptied of their tarpaulins and signages in Cagayan de Oro City on 21 December 2017 as safety measure for the arrival of Tropical Storm Vinta. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

Mindanao has 27 provinces and 33 cities and two more Mindanao provinces may be added to the list under signal 1 as the PAGASA advisory cited “possible inclusion” of Zamboanga del Norte and Zamboanga Sibugay in Mindanao, and the southern part of Negros Oriental and of Negros Occidenal “in the next bulletin” to be issued at 2 p.m.

Vinta (international name ‘Tembin’) is expected to make landfall “over Caraga – Davao Region area” between late Thursday evening (December 21) and Friday morning (December 22) morning.

As of 10 a.m. Thursday, ‘Vinta’s’ center was estimated at 340 km east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, packing maximum winds of up to 65 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph, the weather bulletin said.

‘Vinta’ is forecast to move west at 18 kph and will be in the vicinity of Cagwait, Surigao del Sur by Friday morning; 205 km west of Dipolog City in Zamboanga del Norte by Saturday morning;  160 km west southwest of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan by Sunday morning;  and 655 km west of Puerto Princesa City by Monday morning, outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility.

Maj. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal of the The Eastern Mindanao Command under Maj. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal has directed its units particularly those in the areas to be affected by ‘Vinta’ to prepare and closely coordinate with different local Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils (DRRMC) for the disaster response  “without disregarding the duty to secure the communities from terrorist attacks and other atrocities.”

The directive also called for the preparation of  the different assets — floating, flying, and heavy equipment — from all Armed Forces units in Eastern Mindanao “for possible deployment in the conduct of disaster response, including the activation of their respective disaster response task forces if necessary.” (MindaNews)