BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN & ADRIAN P. NEMES III
As Signal Number 1 was hoisted over Negros Island due to Tropical Depression Vicky, all disaster risk reduction management councils in Negros Occidental were placed on blue alert status yesterday by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson to heighten preparedness.
All fastcraft and RoRo trips in Iloilo, Negros, and Cebu were suspended by the Philippine Coast Guard as early as 5:30 a.m. yesterday, provincial Coast Guard chief, Lt. Cmdr. Lodovico Librilla, said.
Librilla also warned fishermen against venturing into the sea.
TD Vicky has maximum sustained winds of 45 kilometer per hour near the center, and wind gustiness of 60 km/hr, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.
In a memorandum, Lacson, chairperson of PDRRMC, raised a blue alert status in all operations center in Negros Occidental as well as Code: White in all district hospitals, starting noon yesterday.
“You are advised to heighten your preparedness, initiate pro-active measures, and take appropriate precautionary actions for possible flooding, flash floods, or landslides. Ensure waterways are clear, review your contingency plan, and mitigate possible risk in your area of responsibility,” Lacson said in the directive.
He added that the blue alert and Code: White status will be terminated as soon as the tropical depression is outside the Philippine Area of Responsibility.
He said that the province will have strong breeze to near gale conditions during the passage of TD Vicky.
PAG-ASA, in its advisory, also warned against flash floods and rain-induced landslides during heavy or prolonged periods of rainfall, especially in areas identified to be highly or very highly susceptible to these hazards and in localities that received significant antecedent rainfall over the past couple of days or weeks.
It added that adjacent or nearby areas may also experience flooding in the absence of such rainfall occurrence due to surface runoff or swelling of river channels.
If it maintains its track and strength, it is expected to make landfall in Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, at about 5 a.m. today, Provincial Disaster Management Program Division head, Zeaphard Gerhart Caelian, said.
Caelian also said that the repatriation of locally stranded individuals from Tabuelan Port in Cebu, to Escalante port in Negros Occidental, was suspended because of the bad weather.
He, however, said he expects that the repatriation of Negrense LSIs will resume tomorrow. Some passengers bound for Iloilo were also stranded at the Bredco Port in Bacolod City, as early as 5 a.m. yesterday.*