Bicol braces for typhoon ‘Ruby’

By on December 3, 2014

image courtesy of NOAA
image courtesy of NOAA

LEGAZPI CITY — Disaster officials and responders in Bicol are presently bracing thoroughly for super typhoon “Ruby” (international name: Hagupit) that is expected to make a landfall on Saturday covering a 600-kilometer-diameter area that could hit the Visayas and the Bicol Region.

In a joint briefing by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) and the Provincial Peace in Order Council presided over by Cedric Daep, head of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office, he told the members of both councils to be ready for evacuation before Ruby makes a landfall and that even the typhoon re-curves its path, it will surely affect the entire Bicol, especially the Albay province.

“We will enforce evacuation before Ruby makes a landfall as our place is within her track to ensure a zero-casualty goal of the government,” Daep said.

Lilian Guillermo of Philippine Astronomical, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration-Bicol said typhoon Ruby will bring too much rainfall and will cause flash floods and possible landslides with expected storm surges of three to four meters high.

“We expect that Ruby will cross the Visayas and the Bicol Region with moderate-to-intense rainfall from 5 to 20 mm per hour. Even if typhoon Ruby will re-curve to north and will not make a landfall, still the Bicol and the Visayas regions will be affected by heavy rains,” Guillermo said in a briefing at Apsemo Hall Wednesday afternoon.

She also warned that coastal waters along the eastern seaboard of Luzon and the Visayas will be very rough and dangerous for all sea vessels.

Hagupit, which will be named Ruby once it enters the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Thursday, is packing maximum sustained winds of 140 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and has a gustiness of up to 170 kph moving west-northwest at 30 kph.

Daep also directed the Department of Education in Albay to dismantle the tent schools provided by the United Nations Children Funds currently put up in various evacuation camps for Mayon evacuees now staying in temporary shelters here.

With this, Major Gen. Ricardo R. Visaya, Southern Luzon Command chief, instructed all Solcom units to be prepared at all times.

He directed the Solcom’s Disaster Response Units (DRUs) to be ready in anticipation of the effects that Hagupit might bring across Luzon.

Visaya has instructed all Solcom units to be prepared with equipment and manpower and advised his commanders to make proper coordination with their counterparts in the DRRMCs.

Visaya said all Army units in Bicol have been already alerted and their respective DRUs place on standby in their headquarters.

In Albay, Col. Raul Farnacio, commander of the 901st Infantry Brigade, said they are already in coordination with the Office of Civil Defense 5 after the weather bureau warned of a possible landfall.

“All units with disaster response operations capabilities have been tasked to stand by with their respective forces,” Farnacio said.

He also said he has instructed the commanding officers of the 2nd Infantry Battalion in Albay and the 83rd Infantry Battalion in Catanduanes to coordinate with local government units and PDRRMCs in their respective areas.

Col. Cesar Idio, commander of the 903rd Infantry Brigade based in Sorsogon, said his unit has a regular Disaster Response Task Group that is automatically alerted even before a typhoon threatens Sorsogon and Masbate.

The 903rd Infantry Brigade has a platoon-sized DRU on standby and is equipped with mobility asset, chainsaws, utility ropes, lifesaving vests, hard hats and other rescue equipment in performing their tasks.

“In coordination with the provincial and municipal DRRMCs in Sorsogon, some of our DRUs have already been pre-positioned to strategic areas,” said Lt. Col. Beerjenson Aquino, commanding officer of the 31st Infantry Battalion based in Juban, Sorsogon.

“In this region that is frequented by natural calamities, humanitarian assistance and disaster response (HADR) is a major effort of the Solcom,” said Visaya.

He added that if needed, all available lift and mobility assets will be utilized.