CAGAYAN DE ORO (MindaNews / 21 February) — Rescuers waded through waist-deep waters to get to the flood-stricken residents in Tandag City and other parts of northeastern Mindanao on Sunday, as Tropical Storm ‘Auring’ moved toward the Visayas.
As of 1 p.m, ‘Auring’ (Dujuan) was estimated at 320 kilometers east of Hinatuan in Surigao del Sur, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said in its Severe Weather Bulletin 16 issued at 2 p.m.
Packing a maximum sustained winds of 65 km/h near the center and gustiness of up to 80 km/h, ‘Auring’ was moving northwestwards at 15 km/h and is forecast to continue moving generally west-northwestward to northwestward in the next 48 hours.
The weather bulletin said ‘Auring’ may “initially make landfall over the Dinagat Islands- Eastern Samar (southern portion including Homonhon Island)-Leyte area” between Sunday night or early Monday morning.
PAGASA also said there is an “increasing likelihood” that ‘Auring’ will weaken into a tropical depression before it makes landfall “due to persistent high vertical wind shear associated with the surge of the Northeast Monsoon” but the possibility it will maintain its strength until landfall has not been ruled out.
‘Auring’ is expected to be 75 km west of Tacloban City, Leyte by Monday morning and 145 km west of San Jose, Occidental Mindoro by Tuesday morning.
Flash floods inundated parts of Tandag City Sunday morning forcing residents to seek shelter in evacuation centers.
Surigao del Sur Gov. Alexander Pimentel on Saturday ordered preemptive evacuation of 12,000 residents.
Brig. Gen. Alam Hambala, commander of the Army’s 401st Brigade said Army soldiers and policemen evacuated 1,003 families from 10 barangays in Tandag City Sunday morning.
Hambala said 3,602 families were also evacuated in the towns of Lanuza, Cortes, Carmen, Tago, Madrid and Cantilan towns.
Lt. Krisjuper Andreo Punzalan, chief of the 3rd Special Forces Battalion Civil Military Office, said they evacuated 347 families in the towns of Barobo, San Agustin, Lianga and Marihatag and another 584 families in Cagwait town.
“We are experiencing moderate to strong winds right now. The rain is also intermittent,” Hambala told MindaNews.
Hambala said landslides have closed down the roads from Tandag City to Lanuza town; and the stretch of highway between San Agustin and Marihatag towns.
He said light vehicles could no longer pass the highway from Los Arcos, Prosperidad town to Lianga town in Surigao del Sur.
In Surigao City, Police Director Lt. Col. Christian Lipke Rafols II said strong gale-force winds prevented eight passenger ferries from leaving Lipata pier Saturday night.
Rafols said 575 stranded passengers spent the night at the Barangay Lipata evacuation center.
In Dinagat Islands province, Governor Arlene “Kaka” Bag-ao in her 2:30 p.m update said they have evacuated 631 families or 2,393 individuals in the towns of Basilisa, Cagdianao, Loreto, San Jose and Tubajon.
Storm Signal No. 2 remained over Dinagat and Surigao del Norte, including Siargao and Bucas Grande Islands as of the 2 p.m. weather bulletin while Signal 1 is still up over Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Davao City, Bukidnon, Camiguin and Misamis Oriental.
In Cagayan de Oro, unscheduled power interruptions hit the western part of Misamis Oriental as strong winds felled trees and cut off power lines. (Froilan Gallardo / MindaNews)