DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 December) — Severe tropical storm ‘Vinta’ made landfall in Cateel, Davao Oriental at 1:45 a.m. but there has been no report of major damages and casualties and all roads and bridges remain passable, Lt. Col. Jake Obligado, commander of the 67th Infantry Battalion based in neighboring Baganga town, said.
“Di ganon kalakas (Not that strong). No major damage, all roads and bridges passable and no casualties reported,” Obligado told MindaNews at 8:30 a.m. Friday.
As of 10 a.m. ‘Vinta’ was in the vicinity of Malaybalay City in Bukidnon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said in its hourly update.
PAGASA’s Severe Weather Bulletin number 12 issued at 8 a.m. said ‘Vinta’ was estimated in the vicinity of Laak in Compostela Valley at 7 a.m., packing maximum sustained winds of 90 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 155 kph and was moving westward at 20 kph.
The 67th IB assisted the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council in evacuating a total of 2,258 families in Davao Oriental and Lingig, Surigao del Sur. Of this number, 1,853 families were evacuated as a preemptive measure as of 9 p.m. Thursday.
As of 2 a.m. Friday, the total number of families evacuated in Davao Oriental were 272 families in Cateel town (up from 238 families as of 9 p.m.); 1,153 in Baganga; 50 in Caraga; 258 in Boston (from 54 as of 9 pm); and 525 in Lingig, Surigao del Sur (from 358 as of 9 pm).
Obligado said forced evacuation was ordered by the local government of Cateel in Barangay Alegria starting at 2 a.m. when the water level in the Aragon Dam rose to 18 meters. The critical level is 19 meters.
Forced evacuation was also done in Barangay San Miguel, with the dam’s water level at 18.6 meters. Equipment and trucks were pre-deployed for possible forced evacuation in Barangays Aragon, San Alfonso and San Vicente.
The water level in Aragon Dam reached the critical level of 19 meters as of 4:46 a.m., Obligado said.
As of 5:27 a.m., the water level rose to 19.2 meters but “Typhoon Vinta has calmed down” and the weather is “cloudy with scattered rainshowers,” he said.
PAG-ASA’s weather bulletin said ‘Vinta’ will be 135 km north of Zamboanga City as of Saturday morning; 250 km southwest of Puerto Princesa City, Palawan on Sunday morning, and 330 km southwest of Pagasa Island, Palawan, outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility.
Storm signal 2 remains over 15 of Mindanao’s 27 provinces — in the southern part of Surigao del Sur, the northern part of Davao Oriental, Agusan del Sur, Compostela Valley, Davao del Norte, the northern part of Davao del Sur including Davao City, North Cotabato, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Misamis Occidental, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zamboanga Sibugay.
Storm signal 1 is still raised over the rest of Surigao del Sur, the rest of Davao Oriental, rest of Davao del Sur and seven other Mindanao provinces — Dinagat Island, Surigao del Norte, Agusan del Norte, Camiguin, Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and Basilan — and in Visayas, the provinces of Southern Leyte, Bohol, Southern Cebu, Negros Oriental, Southern Negros Occidental, and Siquijor.
In New Bataan, Compostela Valley, the town that registered the most number of deaths when super typhoon Pablo struck on December 4, 2012, residents evacuated to the gym and the Catholic church there.
Fr. Edgar Tuling, parish priest, told MindaNews 25 families evacuated to the church on Thursday night until Friday dawn but returned home as soon as the storm passed.
“Salamat sa Diyos walay pinsala. Namalik na sa ilang mga balay ang nanglikas.. (Thank God there was no damage. The evacuees have returned home). Everything went well under God’s grace,” Tuling said. (MindaNews)