Albay ready to evacuate close to 1 million residents
by MA Loterte
Legazpi City (1 October) -- Albay province is preparing all resources and getting ready to evacuate 884,041 Albayanos in case super typhoon Pepeng changes course leading towards the province, Albay Governor Joey Salceda told the press in a conference here this morning.
Salceda reiterated the province’s zero casualty measures, thus reminding anew all concerned disaster coordinating councils (DCCs) to implement response preparedness in their respective area of responsibility and to prepare their constituents for the next typhoon (Pepeng).
He said all concerned must carry out response preparedness, among others, pre-positioning of response assets, stock piling of foods and non-food items (NFI), identification of evacuation centers and the implementation of ‘pre-emptive evacuation.’
The governor, meanwhile, thanked the Albay media for their expertise that blend with the overall disaster risk reduction strategy of the province in terms of reporting, proper analysis and prompt cascading of information to the residents at the shortest possible time.
He also called for an Executive Meeting with the members of the Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council (PDCC) to discuss the possible impact of approaching typhoon Pepeng.
Salceda called all municipal, barangay officials as well as private organization to review, if necessary their evacuation plans.
Salceda explained that the pre-emptive evacuation of Albay shall only start if the typhoon is at least as strong as 120 kilometers per hour and if the province is identified by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administrator (Pagasa) as direct hit of the path.
"It is our strict policy to implement pre-emptive measure during calamity to ensure the safety of the people," the governor said.
"Pagasa weather bulletin, as of 11 AM, shows that typhoon Pepeng now records a maximum sustained winds of 175 kph and 210 kph gustiness, which is more than enough to order pre-emptive evacuation. However, we still have to determine if it will hit Albay or not, so the two parameters are needed, that is, the wind speed and the direction, or if Albay is already under signal number 2, and that is the time for the evacuation," Salceda explained.
Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office director Cedric Daep meanwhile noted that the current direction is not directly towards Albay but, in case it changes to downward direction and threatens Albay, it might severely affect the province.
"So we are preparing for storm surges, wind strength, possible landslides, heavy rains and lahar flash flood," he said.
Daep assured that the 24 rain gauges across the province have already been activated to monitor the rain density and the APSEMO has given lead time of only 2 hours for the relay of information to the residents and the respective DCCs.
The preparation, just in case Peping threatens Albay, would be the same as the scenario for past typhoons such as Reming and Rosing, according to Daep.
"What we are anticipating is the heavy rains brought by typhoon because our focus would be in the highly risk areas," the governor added.
Meanwhile, three provinces in the Bicol region, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur and Catanduanes, are now under typhoon signal number 1.
Residents in low lying areas and near mountain slopes under signal #1 are advised to take all the necessary precautionary measures against possible flashfloods and landslides.
Pagasa said the public and the disaster coordinating councils concerned are advised to take appropriate actions and watch for the next bulletin to be issued at 5 pm today. (PIA V) [top]