All disaster response units in Negros Occidental and Bacolod City have intensified preparedness as Tropical Storm Auring continues to pose a threat, with neighboring Negros Oriental under Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal (TCWS) No. 1 on Saturday morning.
The Provincial Disaster Management Program Division released a directive from Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, instructing the chairpersons of the city and municipal disaster risk reduction and management (DRRM) councils to place their respective operation centers on red alert status and all district hospitals to raise “Code White” to ensure preparedness.
Lacson advised the DRRMCs anew to heighten preparedness and get ready their emergency and evacuation plans.
“Initiate proactive measures and take appropriate precautionary actions for possible flooding, flash floods, or landslides. Ensure waterways are clear of obstruction, review contingency plans, and mitigate possible disaster risk,” he added.
On Saturday morning, the Philippine Coast Guard announced the suspension of sea trips from Negros Occidental to Cebu after TCWS No. 1 was raised in some parts of the Visayas, including Cebu.
These include trips from San Carlos City to Toledo City, and from Sagay City and Escalante City to Tabuelan town and vice versa.
In Bacolod, Mayor Evelio Leonardia said the city’s disaster response units are on full alert as they continue to monitor and anticipate the entry of “Auring”.
“(Our) response teams are ready but we earnestly advise the public to likewise monitor the weather bulletins and be alert, as well as be prepared at all times,” Leonardia said in a statement issued midnight on Friday.
He also advised those living in areas prone to floods and landslides to take precautions and to follow evacuation protocols when necessary.
Executive Assistant Jose Maria Vargas, who convened the city DRRMC for a pre-disaster risk assessment and emergency preparedness for response, said they have set up a Command Center at the Annex Building of the Bacolod Government Center.
“All reports will be conveyed to the Command Center and the response teams will also be stationed there,” Vargas said.
He assured residents of Bacolod that the city’s emergency response system is ready as he advised everyone to immediately contact barangay officials or the police, whoever is nearer, in case of emergency.
“The tropical storm is estimated to hit Bacolod on Sunday evening or Monday morning. We are very cautious of flood-prone areas, such as those in Barangay 2, 8, 10, 16, Bata, Banago, Pahanocoy, and Villamonte,” Vargas added.
Based on Severe Bulletin 9 issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) at 5 a.m. on Saturday, the center of “Auring” was estimated at 475 km. east-southeast of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, with maximum sustained winds of 75 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 90 kph, with its movement almost stationary.
(Nanette Guadalquiver via Philippine News Agency (PNA), photo courtesy of PAG-ASA)