PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK

HALF A MILLION EVACUATED, TYPHOON WEAKENS 

DEC 6 CATBALOGAN CITY---Families were forcibly evacuated from danger zones in Samar yesterday as threats of storm surges and destructive winds remained despite the slight weakening of Typhoon Ruby, which is expected to make landfall tonight. The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said at least half a million people have been evacuated from critical areas. Several flights were cancelled and Iloilo City declared a “state of imminent danger.” Relief agencies readied sacks of rice. Weather forecasters in Manila said a surge of cold winds from Siberia slightly weakened Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) yesterday but warned it could still bring destruction and storm surges up to four meters high, particularly in Eastern Visayas, where it is expected to make landfall. As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the typhoon was roaring toward the country with winds of 195 kilometers per hour – weaker than its peak of 215 kph – and gusts of 230 kph from the previous 250 kph. Weather forecasters warned that such speeds still made Ruby a powerful typhoon. In Samar, Gov. Sharee Ann Tan said residents had to be forcibly evacuated to ensure everyone’s safety. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: During 'Ruby' Caves safer than housing in Samar  

DEC 6 BASEY, Samar, Philippines – As Super Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) barreled toward this province, around 400 residents have rushed not to government shelters, but to caves where they said they felt better protected. “It is safer here than those tents and bunkhouses which are made only of light materials,” said Anselmo Amascual, 35. Amascual and his family immediately went to the San Roque Caves in Barangay San Roque here upon hearing of the typhoon’s projected arrival. Their family is just one of 195 families that find the walls of the caves safer than the bunkhouses built by government, some of which are located near the shore. “Here we will not have to worry anymore about the danger of being swept away by the strong winds or storm surges,” he said. Nestor Ortigosa, chief of the Public Assistance for Rescue Disaster and Support Services, a non-government organization monitoring the pre-evacuation of Basey residents, reported that around 50 families have also gone to the town’s other famous cave – the Panhulugan and Sohoton Caves in Sitio Rawis in Barangay Guirang. READ FUKK REPORT...

(ALSO) Noy on preparations: Do everything humanly possible

DEC 6 MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino yesterday urged concerned
governm
ent agencies to do everything “humanly possible” in preparing for the onslaught of Typhoon Ruby and for post-disaster operations. “At the end of the day, I really want to be able to say to myself when I look at the mirror that we have done everything that was humanly possible to address whatever you’re issuing to us,” Aquino said. “I impress upon all the members of this government, and not just in the executive, that we do bear a responsibility to everybody and we should not have a period where we are regretting that we could have done something and we didn’t choose to do so,” he added. The President has directed Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II to lead the “national government frontline team” in Borongan, Eastern Samar to ensure that disaster preparations were in place, to monitor the situation, and to direct post-disaster operations. READ FULL REPORT...

(ALSO) Fisherman looked up and prayed: ‘Please don’t, dear God’  (Ayaw gad, Ginoo)

PALO, LEYTE ---PERILOUS WATERS Waves churned by approaching Typhoon “Ruby” swamp and sink a small boat at Sula Port that the Olmeda family from Barangay Mataas, Bacacay, Albay, boarded on Friday. MARK ALVIC ESPLANA/INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON —“Ayaw gad, Ginoo! (Please don’t, dear God).” With these words of supplication, fisherman Elenito Bajas gazed skyward at the dark clouds threatening rain as he secured his boat to a post in front of his house along the coast of Barangay San Fernando here. As Typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit) barreled toward Leyte and Samar provinces on Friday, Bajas remembered that he uttered the same words shortly before storm surges triggered by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) swept across the village on Nov. 8 last year, killing his wife Jocelyn, 51, 2-year-old son John Paul and father Ernesto, 65. “With these same words, I asked God today to spare me and our village,” the 47-year-old widower said. READ FULL STORY...

(ALSO) Typhoon ‘Ruby: Families open homes to neighbors

DEC 6 ---PHOTO: REFUGE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD A child uses a pew as a makeshift
bed inside the Redemptorist Church in Tacloban City where residents evacuated ahead of the landfall of Typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit) in the Visayas. The typhoon threatens to whip up storm surges in the disaster-weary central Philippines that, a year ago, was flattened by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” RAFFY LERMA TACLOBAN CITY—The two-story house of Rufino Garado in Guiuan town, Eastern Samar province, has yet to be fully repaired after it was damaged by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) last year. But he opened his home in Barangay 9-A to at least 20 families whose houses are made of light materials and can be destroyed by Typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit). “The roof and windows of our house were damaged during Yolanda but it can still serve as an evacuation center for our neighbors,” Garado, 54, said. “We want to help the people in our community.”ť His brothers Virgilio and Danilo also opened their houses to their neighbors who were seeking shelter from the storm, which was expected to hit land in Borongan City, Eastern Samar, on Saturday afternoon. Guiuan Mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzales said he had asked residents whose houses survived the wrath of Yolanda to allow their houses to be used for evacuees this time. READ FULL REPORT...

(ALSO) Typhoon ‘Ruby’ scenario: Gov’t hospital staff expected to work like scuba divers 

When Typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit) hits the Philippines, state-run hospitals are expected to work like scuba divers, health officials say. They will cooperate with each other, as underwater teams do, so they can rescue each other when emergency arises. Learning from experience when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) struck last year, the Department of Health (DOH) has set up a “buddy system” to ensure that state-run hospitals and regional offices will be able to render health services with the help of their counterparts from other regions. “We are preparing like it is going to be a Yolanda,” acting Health Secretary Janette Garin told reporters on Friday. READ FULL STORY...

ALSO: Ruby loses some power; survivors camped inside cave  

DEC 6 ---PHOTO: TYPHOON SHELTER Families set up tents and mattresses inside the Sikob Cave in Sulangan, Guiuan, Eastern Samar, where they plan to stay at the height of Super Typhoon Ruby. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO But typhoon still a threat to Bicol, Eastern Visayas  --Super Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) lost some power on Friday but remains a serious threat to Bicol and Eastern Visayas, state weathermen said. Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) weather forecaster Chris Perez said cold air from the northeastern monsoon mixed with the warm air that was powering Ruby, weakening it somewhat. The typhoon was packing 215 kilometer-per-hour winds as it entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Thursday. Weathermen said the winds were down to 195 kph but still gusting to 230 kph. Thousands of people sought shelter in churches, schools and other makeshift evacuation centers on Friday as the typhoon approached. READ FULL REPORT...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Half a million evacuated: Typhoon weakens


TYPHOON RUBY

CATBALOGAN CITY, DECEMBER 8, 2014 (PHILSTAR)  By Ricky Bautista and Helen Flores - Families were forcibly evacuated from danger zones in Samar yesterday as threats of storm surges and destructive winds remained despite the slight weakening of Typhoon Ruby, which is expected to make landfall tonight.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said at least half a million people have been evacuated from critical areas.

Several flights were cancelled and Iloilo City declared a “state of imminent danger.” Relief agencies readied sacks of rice.

Weather forecasters in Manila said a surge of cold winds from Siberia slightly weakened Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) yesterday but warned it could still bring destruction and storm surges up to four meters high, particularly in Eastern Visayas, where it is expected to make landfall.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, the typhoon was roaring toward the country with winds of 195 kilometers per hour – weaker than its peak of 215 kph – and gusts of 230 kph from the previous 250 kph.

Weather forecasters warned that such speeds still made Ruby a powerful typhoon.

In Samar, Gov. Sharee Ann Tan said residents had to be forcibly evacuated to ensure everyone’s safety.

“Stay calm, cautious and prepared,” Tan said, addressing her constituents and officials at yesterday’s meeting of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. The province has two cities and 24 towns.

Provincial officials said they were coordinating with rescue and communication groups, security agencies, and line agencies in the enforcement of evacuations and in preparation of food supplies.

In the cities of Catbalogan and Calbayog, schools, churches and big establishments have been readied as possible evacuation sites.

Catbalogan Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan established hotlines and provided a list of evacuation centers on her Facebook pages and on the city’s official website.

“Food packs and medicines had already been put in place,” Uy-Tan said.

“We are also ready for the typhoon. We have close coordination with barangay officials and concerned agencies with our action plans,” Calbayog Mayor Ronaldo Aquino said.

The offices of Mayors Aquino and Uy-Tan have been designated command centers for the round-the-clock relief – and possibly rescue operations.

The seaports in both cities have also been cleared of vessels to prevent the latter from being carried ashore by strong waves. Storm surge triggered by Yolanda last year forced several kilometers inland at least one ocean going vessel in Tacloban City.

Basey in Samar was almost deserted with business establishments emptied of their stocks by panic buyers and by storeowners wary of looters, Mayor Igmedio Ponferrada said.

Ponferrada said occupants of bunkhouses in Barangay Canmanila had trebled from 400 families to 1,200 households.

“We have to find another evacuation site as it will be not safe for them to stay in that temporary shelters made only of light materials,” the mayor said.

Ponferrada said the town of Basey, inundated by 10-15 meter storm surge last year, is now ready for another flooding. The town has secured documents, vehicles, computers and other equipment, to protect them from water damage.

“At least today, we were able to prepare and had the time to inform our constituents to get ready,” the mayor said.

The Iloilo City council, for its part, declared a “state of imminent danger.” This means the city government may immediately release funds for relief and rescue activities.

Half a million evacuees

Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman said the evacuees represent 100,000 families in critical areas, especially Western Samar. She said the figure is equivalent to around 500,000 individuals.

“As of the initial count given by the DILG (Department of the Interior and Local Government), the ones helping us coordinate with local governments, more than 100,000 families are now in evacuation centers,” Soliman told reporters at Camp Aguinaldo.

“The people themselves are preparing and they do not need to be convinced to go to evacuation centers,” Soliman said.

National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) executive director Alexander Pama said local governments and civilians are now following the instructions given by DILG.

Ponferrada said the regional office of the DSWD delivered 250 sacks of rice to Basey Thursday night.

He said evacuees were staying at the Basey 1 Elementary School, St. Michael Parish Church, Barangay Buscada Chapel and Multipurpose Hall. Some even sought shelter in the Rawis and Sohoton caves.

Members of the Public Assistance for Rescue Disaster and Support Services Foundation International, a volunteer non-government organization, are assisting officials implement an orderly evacuation in Catbalogan and Basey and in Palo and Tacloban in Leyte.

The Samar Electric Cooperative II (SAMELCO II) said it would cut off power as soon as Ruby makes landfall.

The Department of Public Works and Highways has also cleared roads and highways of objects that might get blown away or carried by flood or strong wind.

There are at least 27 major evacuation centers designated in Eastern Samar, said disaster official Levi Nicart.

“Our priorities are those living in coastal towns and no-build zones,” he said.

In Tacloban, where more than 3,000 families are still living in tents and temporary shelters, major evacuation centers especially the Astrodome and Our Mother of Perpetual Help, are almost fully occupied.

Aside from forced evacuation, Mayor Alfred Romualdez also imposed a “liquor ban” in the city. The downtown area as well as the city hall compound had been cleared of vehicles.

The Army’s 8th Infantry Division based in Catbalogan also placed all its units on “full red alert” as part of disaster preparations.

“The primary objective here is ‘zero-casualty.’ Along with other agencies, your army here in the region will exhaust all means to save lives and properties particularly in the areas that will be worst-hit by the typhoon,” Maj. Gen. Jet Velarmino, commander of the 8ID told The STAR.

Zero casualty

Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon said he has directed all PRC chapters nationwide to be prepared to implement protocols to ensure zero casualty.

“Our objective is zero loss of life and minimum damage to property is achieved,” Gordon stressed.

Gwendolyn Pang, PRC secretary general said Red Cross chapters in the typhoon’s path were directed to ensure that all logistical supplies are adequate.

“The flow of information must be continuous so that we will know what is happening on the ground. We have to know the damage of typhoon Ruby and if we can intervene,” Pang said.

Albay province, meanwhile, would also be evacuating starting today at least 128,000 families to elevated ground due to potential flooding and storm surge, Gov. Joey Salceda announced yesterday.

“We will evacuate all the residents residing along the Albay coastlines to get them out of the danger to be brought by the anticipated storm surge,” Salceda told The STAR.

Salceda said that some 37,000 residents would also be evacuated due to lahar and mudflow threats from Mayon Volcano.

The National Food Authority (NFA), for its part, has positioned 50,000 50-kilogram bags of rice for emergency use, food security chief Francis Pangilinan announced yesterday.

Pangilinan said the country’s rice buffer stock remains sufficient for 17 days.

Some 44,000 50-kilogram bags of NFA rice are now on standby for allocation to Region 8, Eastern Visayas. “Rolling stores are ready to be deployed post calamity, if needed,” he said.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board suspended the operations of all provincial bus companies with roll-on, roll-off (RORO) routes to areas affected by Ruby. The suspension of travel left more than 2,500 stranded at different ports yesterday, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.

Flights cancelled, free calls

Meanwhile, Cebu Pacific announced the cancellation of flights today between Manila, Cebu, Butuan and Tacloban.

Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr. appealed yesterday to the Philippine Airlines to resume full operations in Tacloban so that those still wanting to leave for Manila can do so at the earliest time possible.

Globe Telecom, for its part, announced it is providing critical municipalities with mobile phones and prepaid load which they can use to offer Libreng Tawag service to affected residents for at least a week.

Globe has portable generator sets on standby to be deployed to affected areas in case of power interruption.

“We want to be ready for any eventuality. We are empowering the local government units concerned to conduct Libreng Tawag service if the need arises,” said Fernando Esguerra, director, Globe Corporate Social Responsibility. “We are equipping them with emergency communication facilities so that they can do this while our security personnel are focused on ensuring that Globe employees and our systems are safe and intact.”

SkyCable advised subscribers in critical areas of possible signal interruption due to effects of Ruby.

“SKY commits to the immediate restoration of its cable TV and broadband services once the weather calms, the roads become passable, and power is restored to heavily affected areas,” a company statement read.

Weaker

The typhoon was forecast to move west-northwest at 13 kph in the next 24 hours.

“This is still powerful. We should not let our guard down and remain alert. Let’s keep ourselves safe because the threat of strong winds, heavy rains and storm surge remains,” PAGASA deputy administrator Landrico Dalida Jr. said in Filipino during a press briefing. “Evacuation of high risk areas should not stop,” he said.

PAGASA acting administrator Vicente Malano and weather forecaster Chris Perez said areas, which are close to the center of the typhoon, could experience heavy rains and storm surge of three to four meters or about the height of a one-story building.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, storm warning signal No. 2 was raised over Albay, Sorsogon, Ticao Island, Masbate, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Northern Cebu including Cebu City, Bantayan Island and Camotes Island.

Areas under signal No. 2 may experience winds of 61 to 100 kph in at least 24 hours.

Perez said winds of such strength could uproot large trees and blow away or flatten structures made of light materials like nipa huts.

“These areas may suffer severe damage in agriculture,” Perez said.

Areas under signal No. 1, which include Catanduanes, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Burias Island, Romblon, Capiz, Iloilo, Antique, Guimaras, Aklan, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, rest of Cebu, Siquijor, Bohol, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Island, Siargao Island, Agusan del Sur and Camiguin Island, may experience 30 to 60 kph wind in at least 36 hours.

PAGASA said areas under signal No. 1 can expect occasional rains with gusty winds.

Ruby is expected to be at 80 km north northeast of Borongan, Eastern Samar or 130 km east southeast of Catarman, Northern Samar this afternoon.

It would be at 40 km north of Masbate City, Masbate or in the vicinity of Ticao Island by tomorrow afternoon.

By Monday afternoon, the center of Ruby is expected to be at 50 km west of Calapan City, Oriental Mindoro.

Perez said Metro Manila and other parts of Southern Luzon could experience light to moderate rains beginning Sunday.

It is expected to exit the Philippine area of responsibility on Wednesday morning or afternoon.

Siberian winds

State weather forecasters attributed Ruby’s weakening to the sudden surge of the northeast monsoon – cold winds coming down from Siberia.

Malano said the cold wind “intruded” into the cyclone’s center, preventing it from further intensifying.

“We expect that in the next 24 hours, the cold winds will continue to affect Ruby. If there is no moisture, which is the food of a typhoon, it is expected to further weaken,” Malano said.

“I think the Filipinos’ prayers are powerful,” he said.

The Hawaii-based Joint Typhoon Warning Center downgraded Ruby’s category from a super typhoon to a typhoon.

The weather bureau also reduced the projected diameter of the typhoon from 700 km to 600 km, which means that fewer areas would be covered by its mass.

PAGASA said the typhoon could bring heavy to intense rains in areas within a 600-km radius.

PAGASA said rough to very rough sea conditions are expected in the seaboards of Northern Luzon, eastern seaboard of Central and Southern Luzon, seaboards of Visayas and over the northern and eastern seaboards of Mindanao due to the combined effect of Ruby and the northeast monsoon. With Alexis Romero, Mayen Jaymalin, Czeriza Valencia, Cet Dematera, Jaime Laude, Danny Dangcalan, Evelyn Macairan, Jennifer Rendon, Reinir Padua, Christina Mendez


FROM PHILSTAR

Caves safer than housing in Samar (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

BASEY, Samar, Philippines – As Super Typhoon Ruby (international name Hagupit) barreled toward this province, around 400 residents have rushed not to government shelters, but to caves where they said they felt better protected.

“It is safer here than those tents and bunkhouses which are made only of light materials,” said Anselmo Amascual, 35.

Amascual and his family immediately went to the San Roque Caves in Barangay San Roque here upon hearing of the typhoon’s projected arrival.

Their family is just one of 195 families that find the walls of the caves safer than the bunkhouses built by government, some of which are located near the shore.

“Here we will not have to worry anymore about the danger of being swept away by the strong winds or storm surges,” he said.

Nestor Ortigosa, chief of the Public Assistance for Rescue Disaster and Support Services, a non-government organization monitoring the pre-evacuation of Basey residents, reported that around 50 families have also gone to the town’s other famous cave – the Panhulugan and Sohoton Caves in Sitio Rawis in Barangay Guirang.

The cave, which has a higher ground and is located far from the sea, can accommodate at least 500 individuals.

“The cave is a show cave and has two wide entrances. It is also safe there because it is not too dark and residents can stay inside even without the aid of a flashlight,” Ortigosa said.

The cave, one of the premier tourist destinations in the region, is 16.4 feet meters high. It has a fantastic tunnel with stalactites and stalagmites.

There are also unconfirmed reports that several people have trooped to the caves in Barangays Basiao and Rawis where evacuation centers are fully occupied.

Basey Mayor Igmedio Ponferrada told The STAR that they do not yet have the total number of people hiding in the various caves of the province “because residents keep on coming.”

“But we have coordinated with officials in concerned villages to get the number of evacuees for us to determine how many food packs and relief items should be delivered to them,” Ponferrada said.


FROM PHILSTAR

Noy on preparations: Do everything humanly possible By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 6, 2014 - 12:00am 0 1 googleplus0 0

MANILA, Philippines - President Aquino yesterday urged concerned government agencies to do everything “humanly possible” in preparing for the onslaught of Typhoon Ruby and for post-disaster operations.

“At the end of the day, I really want to be able to say to myself when I look at the mirror that we have done everything that was humanly possible to address whatever you’re issuing to us,” Aquino said.

“I impress upon all the members of this government, and not just in the executive, that we do bear a responsibility to everybody and we should not have a period where we are regretting that we could have done something and we didn’t choose to do so,” he added.

The President has directed Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II to lead the “national government frontline team” in Borongan, Eastern Samar to ensure that disaster preparations were in place, to monitor the situation, and to direct post-disaster operations.

Pursuant to the instructions of President Aquino, Roxas went to Borongan yesterday to help ensure that local government units (LGU) are prepared when Typhoon Ruby makes landfall.

Roxas said the Philippine National Police is on heightened alert and the leaves of its personnel in areas to be affected by the typhoon have all been cancelled. The PNP was also directed to have presence in commercial areas to preempt disorder and looting.

Roxas added the DILG would also coordinate with the Department of Science and Technology, Office of Civil Defense, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines for the immediate evacuation of residents in high-risk areas.

Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, on the other hand, was tasked by the President to monitor the situation in the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council headquarters to manage all information necessary to ensure that disaster protocols, preparation and response are properly coordinated.

It was also Roxas and Gazmin who led the government’s response teams in the aftermath of Super Typhoon Yolanda in November last year.

Noy to beat ‘inertia’ of gov’t officials

But Aquino admitted the government could only prepare so much for disasters like a typhoon and that sometimes, he would need to beat the “inertia” of some of those in government when doing the preparations.

“I think I’m ultimately responsible for how this government works, and I want to impress upon everybody that it is not just doing something but rather doing the right thing. And in certain instances, I really have to – how should I say? – press and overcome the inertia of some members of the bureaucracy,” he said.

“And I think that question will be better put to the secretaries present, who they claim are sometimes tortured and have to endure a thesis-like defense presentation whenever I have to ask the questions,” he added.

The President explained that asking about too many details of the preparations was his way of making sure that everybody was doing their utmost best in their respective roles.

The President noted that the country had been hit by typhoons before, but a new one would always pose different sets of challenges.

“We thought the Zamboanga (City siege by the members the Moro National Liberation Front) crisis with the hundred thousand mouths to feed was big. Then Yolanda came and it was 1.47 million families affected… It was really a very, very severe challenge. It still is a challenge,” he said.

Using LGUs’ disaster fund for preparation

Valenzuela City Rep. Sherwin Gatchalian, meanwhile, asked Congress yesterday to speed up the passage of a measure allowing LGUs to spend part of their Local Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Fund (LDRRMF) for disaster preparedness.

Gatchalian earlier filed House Bill 5097, which seeks to amend the Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act to cover the construction of infrastructure crucial in reducing the effects of disasters.

The measure is set to include payment of obligations by the LGUs for the reconstruction and repair of major infrastructure damaged by disasters, as well as payment of wages and benefits of appointed rescue and response personnel.

“The effects of disasters would be greatly mitigated and reduced if LGUs will have the necessary funds to provide local infrastructure projects designed to protect against natural disasters,” the lawmaker said. With Marvin Sy, Paolo Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe


FROM THE INQUIRER

Typhoon ‘Ruby’: ‘Please don’t, dear God’ is survivor’s prayer Danny Petilla @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 2:53 AM | Saturday, December 6th, 2014


PERILOUS WATERS Waves churned by approaching Typhoon “Ruby” swamp and sink a small boat at Sula Port that the Olmeda family from Barangay Mataas, Bacacay, Albay, boarded on Friday. MARK ALVIC ESPLANA/INQUIRER SOUTHERN LUZON

PALO, Leyte—“Ayaw gad, Ginoo! (Please don’t, dear God).”

With these words of supplication, fisherman Elenito Bajas gazed skyward at the dark clouds threatening rain as he secured his boat to a post in front of his house along the coast of Barangay San Fernando here.

As Typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit) barreled toward Leyte and Samar provinces on Friday, Bajas remembered that he uttered the same words shortly before storm surges triggered by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) swept across the village on Nov. 8 last year, killing his wife Jocelyn, 51, 2-year-old son John Paul and father Ernesto, 65.

“With these same words, I asked God today to spare me and our village,” the 47-year-old widower said.

Even as his neighbors scurried about for last-minute chores before evacuating from their village, an eerie calm pervaded over the place as dogs barked and chickens clucked incessantly, making Bajas nervous.

“Just like before Yolanda, these animals were telling us that there was something wrong,” Bajas said.

“Women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities first,” Fr. Amadeo Alvero, communications director of the Archdiocese of Palo, said in a taped radio broadcast. He asked first responders who to prioritize during the rescue operation.

Alvero also pleaded with the town’s 65,000 residents to flee to higher grounds, asking them to go to the eight evacuation centers designated by town authorities.

“We have learned our lessons from Yolanda. We are doing our best not to be caught off guard this time,” Palo Vice Mayor Ronnan Christian Reposar said.

Spooked by the specter of yet another monster storm, residents remained noticeably calm as they went about their daily chores on Friday.

At the town center, most of the stores and business establishments closed early as the townsfolk prepared for another potentially deadly storm that could rival Yolanda, which killed more than 1,600 residents last year.

At the Leyte Academic Center in Pawing village, some 300 volunteers of the Korean military—all ready to leave the country this week after helping in rehabilitation work for a year—were hunkered down in a corner, ready to spring back to action to do rescue work if needed.

At the Rev. Cipriano V. Urgel Archdiocese Center at the back of the Palo Cathedral, newly arrived evacuees from the town’s coastal villages—who bore the brunt of Yolanda’s storm surges—registered themselves with youth volunteers to make sure everybody in the center was identified.

“Mandatory or not, we decided to evacuate just to be safe,” said Raymond Cayubit, a 22-year-old new father, as he played with his 2-month-old baby Michaelangelo at the evacuation center.

At the Palo Cathedral, well-wishers were toasting newly married couple Louie Dometita, 28, and Nicole Verzosa, 25, who had wanted to get hitched before the new typhoon came.

“They wanted to be in a state of grace, that’s why,” said Fr. Peter Ayaso, who presided over the Catholic wedding.

About a kilometer away, the funeral procession for 43-year-old Kent Alfon—who died of a stroke last Nov. 28—was winding down as it entered the Palo Municipal Cemetery.

At the Palo Maternity Center, midwife Dolor Fumar and nurse Jerra Callera welcomed two new baby girls, Quennie Barda and Jennifer Valera. They were born early Friday morning.

“While we pray that Ruby will go away, we are praying to high heavens for my new gift of life,” said 35-year-old mother Nancy Valera. She had just given birth to Jennifer, her fourth child with husband Joel Valera.

Back at the coastal village of San Fernando, Bajas whispered a few words of prayer as he said goodbye to his new house.

In a few minutes, the house will be vacant again because of the mandatory evacuation ordered by village chief Malvarosa Perote.

“Please, bless and protect my house, oh Lord. I hope it will still be here when Ruby goes away,” Bajas said, crying out to his neighbors to wait as he prepared to join them on a yet another uncertain flight.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Typhoon ‘Ruby: Families open homes to neighbors; Refuge in house of God Joey A. Gabieta @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Visayas 3:08 AM | Saturday, December 6th, 2014


REFUGE IN THE HOUSE OF GOD A child uses a pew as a makeshift bed inside the Redemptorist Church in Tacloban City where residents evacuated ahead of the landfall of Typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit) in the Visayas. The typhoon threatens to whip up storm surges in the disaster-weary central Philippines that, a year ago, was flattened by Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” RAFFY LERMA

TACLOBAN CITY—The two-story house of Rufino Garado in Guiuan town, Eastern Samar province, has yet to be fully repaired after it was damaged by Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) last year. But he opened his home in Barangay 9-A to at least 20 families whose houses are made of light materials and can be destroyed by Typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit).

“The roof and windows of our house were damaged during Yolanda but it can still serve as an evacuation center for our neighbors,” Garado, 54, said. “We want to help the people in our community.”ť

His brothers Virgilio and Danilo also opened their houses to their neighbors who were seeking shelter from the storm, which was expected to hit land in Borongan City, Eastern Samar, on Saturday afternoon.

Guiuan Mayor Christopher Sheen Gonzales said he had asked residents whose houses survived the wrath of Yolanda to allow their houses to be used for evacuees this time.

Gonzales said there were few evacuation centers in Guiuan because the schools and barangay halls were either damaged or destroyed by Yolanda when it struck the town on Nov. 8, 2013.

“We have identified about 100 houses that can serve as temporary evacuation centers for the families whose houses are made of light materials or still living in temporary shelters,”ť Gonzales said.

Preemptive evacuation

At least 3,000 families living in coastal areas of the town were preemptively evacuated by the Guiuan municipal government to these private homes starting Wednesday night.

They were among the tens of thousands of people who fled coastal villages and landslide-prone areas in central Philippines as Ruby bore down on Eastern Visayas, where Yolanda killed more than 6,300 people last year.

But in Tacloban City, Leyte province, more than 300 families living in bunkhouses in Sagkahan district had yet to move to evacuation centers on Friday.

Sarah Tabletin, 48, said her family might move to the nearby Chinese cemetery for shelter during the storm.

“There are no big trees inside the cemetery and we will just take shelter inside the mausoleums there, Tabletin said.

Tabletin’s family used to live in Barangay 88 in San Jose district, worst hit area in Tacloban during Yolanda. She lost two of her six children and two granddaughters in the supertyphoon.

Gloria Fabregas, chief of the city’s Social Welfare and Development Office, said about 4,240 families composed of 19,300 people had been moved to 26 evacuation centers in Tacloban.

Most of the evacuees were staying in the astrodome, which can accommodate 3,500 people and has been declared safe by the International Organization for Migration.

Stores closed

In the downtown area, many businesses have closed down since Wednesday, when the first reports that Ruby was headed toward Eastern Visayas came.

The glass windows of stores were covered and boarded up while policemen and Army soldiers were deployed to prevent looting.

Before the closures, thousands of people lined outside the stores to stock up on emergency provisions.

Leyte Gov. Leopoldo Dominico Petilla said the panic buying was a good sign because it indicated that the people had learned lessons from Yolanda.

“If there is no panic buying, I guess I can say that they have not learned any lesson from last year’s typhoon,” Petilla said.

As Ruby approached, people started to crowd the evacuation centers in several towns and cities in the Visayas.

In Capoocan town, Leyte, at least 1,000 families from three coastal villages had been moved to higher grounds, said its mayor, Federico Carolino.

More than 4,000 people were moved to evacuation centers in the cities of Bogo and Cebu and in the northern towns of Daanbayantayan, Bantayan and Madridejos.

The Philippine Coast Guard suspended sea travel in the Visayas on Friday.

Boat trips were suspended to and from the island-resort of Boracay, Aklan province, after the Public Storm Signal No. 1 was raised in the province.

In Albay province, residents have been evacuated from landslide-prone villages.

Albay has the most number of landslide-prone villages, 317, among the six provinces in the Bicol region that have high chances of landslides during storms.

Albay Gov. Joey Salceda gave assurance that this time there would be “zero casualty” unlike when Typhoon “Reming” (international name: Durian) hit the country, killing more than a thousand people in the province in November 2006.

Salceda has ordered the evacuation of 128,217 families or 666,728 people.

He said the evacuees would come from 720 villages in the three cities and 15 towns of Albay that are vulnerable to flash floods, landslide and lahar flow from Mayon Volcano.

In Catanduanes, residents in 15 coastal villages were evacuated after officials noted a rise in wave heights along the coastlines early in the morning.

In Camarines Sur province, Gov. Miguel Luis Villafuerte said the evacuation of families living near the shoreline of Ragay Gulf had begun.

In Surigao del Sur province, Gov. Johnny Pimentel suspended work in government offices on Friday, except in the disaster council.

Classes on all levels were suspended in Tandag City, Bislig City and the towns of Cantilan, Bayabas, Cagwait, Lingig and Tagbina.

Classes, from preschool to high school, were also suspended in the towns of Carrascal, Madrid, Carmen, Lanuza, Cortes, Tago, San Miguel, Marihatag, San Agustin, Lianga, Barobo and Hinatuan.

Enough rice

The National Food Authority (NFA) in Surigao del Sur province said its warehouses had gone on 24-hour operation to ensure that there would be no rice shortages during the storm.

NFA Assistant Provincial Manager Alvin Balatero said that of the 17 municipalities and two cities in Surigao del Sur, only the towns of Tago and Cortes had asked to be given access to rice supplies should their stocks run short.

Vitchie Bandoy, Tandag City disaster risk and reduction office chief, said preemptive evacuation had been implemented in high-risk areas since Friday morning.

In Dinagat Islands, 25 evacuation centers in different municipalities have been opened to 2,361 families or 11,805 people.

With at least 5,000 food packs initially prepositioned for the evacuation centers, the Dinagat Islands local government said the evacuees would have enough to eat.

In Agusan del Norte province, evacuation centers have already started to receive residents while relief and rescue vehicles and equipment have been prepositioned for deployment.

Military help

The military’s Eastern Mindanao Command based in Davao City, has been directed to prepare and initiate efforts to assist local disaster councils.

Davao City’s Central 911 Unit, one of the most advanced rescue units in the country—which has rubber boats and amphibious vehicles—is also preparing to offer assistance not just for the city but also for neighboring towns and provinces. With reports from Michael B. Jaucian, Ma. April Mier, Shiena Barrameda, Juan Escandor Jr., Fernan Gianan, Delfin Mallari Jr. and Madonna Virola, Inquirer Southern Luzon; Karen Bermejo, Doris C. Bongcac and Carmel Loise Matus, Inquirer Visayas; and Inquirer Mindanao


FROM THE INQUIRER

Typhoon ‘Ruby’ scenario: Gov’t hospital staff expected to work like scuba divers Jocelyn R. Uy @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 3:16 AM | Saturday, December 6th, 2014

MANILA, Philippines—When Typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit) hits the Philippines, state-run hospitals are expected to work like scuba divers, health officials say.

They will cooperate with each other, as underwater teams do, so they can rescue each other when emergency arises.

Learning from experience when Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan) struck last year, the Department of Health (DOH) has set up a “buddy system” to ensure that state-run hospitals and regional offices will be able to render health services with the help of their counterparts from other regions.

“We are preparing like it is going to be a Yolanda,” acting Health Secretary Janette Garin told reporters on Friday.

Sweeping destruction

Yolanda’s destruction was so sweeping it took one to five days for government help to get to the hardest-hit areas, including Tacloban City, according to Dr. Cirilo Galindez, new head of the DOH’s Health Emergency Management Bureau.

“Yolanda was overwhelming. Even health workers and the staff of hospitals were victims of the typhoon,” Galindez said. “What was needed at that time was not augmentation [of workforce] but replacement from the unaffected regions.”

To ensure that health workers can quickly respond, regional offices and DOH-retained hospitals in the threatened regions were assigned counterparts in areas to be spared by Ruby.

“This [system] is relatively new to the DOH, although this is being used in other fields, like diving,” Assistant Health Secretary Gerardo Bayugo said.

Buddy system

Under the buddy system, the regional offices and state-run hospitals in Central Luzon and Caraga are to assist their counterparts in Eastern Visayas, which forecasts show will be hit by Ruby over the weekend.

Eastern Visayas is also expected to help should the typhoon hit either of the two regions as well.

Those in Cagayan Valley and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) will send help to Central Visayas and vice versa.

DOH-retained hospitals in Northern Mindanao and Metro Manila will help counterparts in Mimaropa and Eastern Visayas.

DOH hospitals in Calabarzon and CAR have been partnered with their counterparts in the Bicol region.

Adequacy of resources

“These offices and hospitals are now working closely to ensure the adequacy of human health resources, supplies and equipment,” Bayugo said.

Bayugo said the system would allow regional offices to send help and mobilize personnel without waiting for the central office’s go-signal, which delays response time.

“These regional offices and hospitals are already communicating with each other, establishing how they are going to work and communicate and what help can be provided,” Bayugo said.

Drugs, other supplies

Drugs, medicines and other supplies, altogether worth P243 million, have been prepositioned in the threatened regions. Satellite phones have also been distributed and will be used in case the typhoon shuts down communication lines.

To ensure the mobility of health teams, motorcycles and bicycles are also on standby in the regional offices. These will be used in areas impassable to vehicles, explained Bayugo.

The DOH will declare a “code red” alert for all DOH-retained hospitals in the affected regions as part of its preparedness.

A code red alert means 100 percent of all hospital personnel shall report for duty in the facility to render medical and other services.


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Ruby loses some power  December 5, 2014 11:46 pm by Jing Villamente, WILLIAM B. DEPASUPIL, ROBERTZON F. RAMIREZ, Rosalie C. Periabras and AFP


TYPHOON SHELTER Families set up tents and mattresses inside the Sikob Cave in Sulangan, Guiuan, Eastern Samar, where they plan to stay at the height of Super Typhoon Ruby. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

But typhoon still a threat to Bicol, Eastern Visayas.

Super Typhoon Ruby (Hagupit) lost some power on Friday but remains a serious threat to Bicol and Eastern Visayas, state weathermen said.

Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) weather forecaster Chris Perez said cold air from the northeastern monsoon mixed with the warm air that was powering Ruby, weakening it somewhat.

The typhoon was packing 215 kilometer-per-hour winds as it entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Thursday. Weathermen said the winds were down to 195 kph but still gusting to 230 kph.

Thousands of people sought shelter in churches, schools and other makeshift evacuation centers on Friday as the typhoon approached.

The storm, which would be the strongest to hit the country this year, is forecast to impact eastern provinces devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda last year.

People across the country were heeding government warnings to make early preparations.

Perez said Ruby was tracked at 500 km east of Borongan, Eastern Samar, on Friday morning, moving in a west-northwest direction at 13 kph.

The typhoon is expected to make landfall in Eastern Samar between 8 p.m. and 12 noon on Saturday.

Storm warning signals were raised in 34 areas.

Signal number 2 (winds of 61-100 kph expected in at least 24 hours) was up over Sorsogon, Ticao Island, Masbate, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Biliran, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Northern Cebu including Cebu City, Bantayan Island and Camotes Island.

Signal number 1 (winds of 30-60 kph expected in at least 36 hours) was raised over Catanduanes, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Burias Island and Romblon, Capiz, Iloilo, Antique, Aklan, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, the rest of Cebu, Siquijor, Bohol, Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat Island, Siargao Island, Misamis Oriental, Agusan del Sur and Camiguin Island.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (NDRRMC) chief, Alexander Pama, said on Friday the stockpiling and prepositioning of foods, medicines and disaster management and rescue teams and other necessities were on schedule.
“We have learned our lessons from Yolanda. It’s better to be overprepared than to be underprepared,” Pama said.

Ruby will dump an estimated 7.5-20 mm per hour of rain, categorized as heavy to intense, within its 700-km diameter radius.

Ferries were not allowed to leave port, stranding as many as 2,500 passengers.

Eighteen flights on the Manila, Butuan Cebu and Surigao routes were cancelled.

The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) on Friday suspended the operations of all provincial bus companies with roll-on-roll-off (RORO) routes to Southern Luzon, Eastern Visayas and Mindanao.

In Tacloban City, where many buildings still lie in rubble after being destroyed in Yolanda, hundreds of people sheltered in a sports stadium on Friday.

“We’ve learned our lesson from Yolanda (Haiyan),” Rita Villadolid, 39, told AFP as she sat inside the stadium with her family. “Everyone here is gripped with fear.”

Elsewhere in Tacloban, hundreds of people sheltered in churches and schools, some of the sturdiest buildings in the city while wealthier residents checked into hotels.

Similar preparations were occurring across the country.

There was also confusion as to where the eye of the typhoon would pass, with Pagasa and various foreign government typhoon monitoring agencies projecting different paths.

Pagasa predicted the worst of the typhoon would hit the eastern provinces of Samar and Leyte, which were the most badly damaged during Haiyan, then cut across the central Philippines.

But the US Navy’s Joint Typhoon Warning Center predicted it would travel slightly north of Samar, then cut west and pass directly over Manila, the nation’s capital with a population of more than 12 million people.

The US agency on Friday downgraded Ruby from the maximum super typhoon category to typhoon status.

Still, this would make the Hagupit the strongest typhoon to hit the Philippines this year.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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