President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. suspended government work and public school classes in all levels in Metro Manila (National Capital Region or NCR) and several other provinces beginning Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday, August 24, due to Severe Tropical Storm “Florita.”
Upon recommendation of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), the President declared the suspension of government work and classes in the NCR, including the provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Zambales and Bataan starting at 1 p.m., according to Press Secretary Rose Beatrix “Trixie” Cruz-Angeles.
“The President has declared a suspension of work and classes in all levels today until tomorrow, for all government offices and public schools in the NCR, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Bulacan, Zambales and Bataan, due to severe tropical storm Florita,” Cruz-Angeles said in a statement.
“The heavy rains pose possible risks to the general public based on recommendations of the Office of Civil Defense,” she added.
Florita, though, has slightly weakened while traversing the northern portion of Apayao province, but Signal No. 3 remains up over at least four areas in Luzon, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) said in its 5 p.m. advisory on Tuesday.
The tropical storm made its first landfall in Maconacon, Isabela on Tuesday.
“The recommended suspension will prevent any untoward incidents and will ensure the safety of the general public,” the NDRRMC said.
Meanwhile, Cruz-Angeles said suspension of work for private companies and offices is left to the discretion of their respective heads.
“The same course of action for private schools and offices is left to the discretion of their respective heads,” she added.
The Department of Social Welfare and Development Field Office 2 (DSWD FO2) has been placed on alert status together with the provincial/city/municipal actions teams, social welfare and development teams and quick response teams to closely monitor impact of Florita in the regions.
As of press time, three provinces had been impacted, with 342 families or 1,162 people affected.
Twenty evacuation centers are now ready to accommodate distressed families.
“The DSWD FO2 is on full force to monitor adverse effects of the typhoon in the regions. Agency personnel are also on stand-by and are ready to facilitate immediate distribution of relief goods and other forms of assistance to LGUs (local government units) if and when they need augmentation,” Officer in Charge and Regional Director Celso Arao Jr. said.
A total of 22,372 family food packs, which include canned goods, coffee, rice and powdered cereal drinks, as well as 5,610 non-food items, including kitchen, hygiene, sleeping and clothing kits and family tents, are available and ready for distribution to meet basic emergency needs of the affected individuals and families.
Personnel from the Philippine National Police (PNP), Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Bureau of Fire Protection and 201st Cagayan Ready Reserve Infantry Batallion-2RCDG RESCOM Philippine Army are assisting in the repacking of additional relief items.
“Even if we are second responders, we must take the initiative and stop waiting for the local authorities to contact us. We still need to keep an eye on the flooding and casualties. Give them (displaced folk) if they need assistance or food,” DSWD Secretary Erwin Tulfo said during an online briefing with the DSWD regional directors.
The NDRRMC also on Tuesday said a total of 180 families or 543 individuals from the Cagayan Valley and CAR had been evacuated.
Of the number, 110 families or 391 persons were from CAR and 70 families or 152 persons came from Cagayan Valley.
Classes were suspended in 162 cities and municipalities: 77 in CAR, 58 in Ilocos Region, 21 in Cagayan Valley and three each in Central Luzon and Bicol Region.
The NDRRMC said work was suspended in 60 cities and municipalities — 58 in Ilocos Region and two in Cagayan Valley.
At least three rain-induced landslides hit Ilocos Region and Bicol Region, and two flash floods struck Ilocos Region.
Three roads in the Bicol Region and one bridge in Cagayan Valley were not passable as of press time.
Some domestic flights scheduled for Tuesday, August 23, were canceled, according to the Manila International Airport Authority.
Dam officials released water from Magat Dam in Isabela and Binga Dam in Benguet amid continuous rains brought by Florita.
In an advisory from the National Irrigation Administration-Magat River Integrated Irrigation System (NIA-Mariis), water from the reservoir was released at a rate of 554 cubic meters per second (cms).
As of 5 a.m. on Tuesday, the opening of the spillway gate was at 84 cms.
Magat's water level was at 186.62 meters, 3.3 meters less from its spilling mark of 190 meters.
Water from the Binga dam was released at a rate of 92.61 cms.
Binga's water level was at 574.16 meters, less than a meter from its normal high-water level of 575 meters.
The NIA-Mariis advised residents of low-lying areas along Cagayan River to avoid fishing and other water activities to ensure their safety.
Authorities also cautioned residents along Agno River to take necessary precautions.
The PCG District North Eastern Luzon was on full alert status to ensure capability and preparedness of its personnel and assets against the storm.
It said deployable response teams, composed of personnel from various Coast Guard stations, sub-stations and operational control units of the district, were immediately activated after the Department of Science and Technology-Pagasa advised against allowing passenger vessels from sailing particularly in the Isabela-Cagayan area.
“Once Pagasa declares storm signal No.1, we will enforce the no-sail policy in accordance with our policy of movement of vessels during heavy weather,” PCG Lt. Miguel Angelo Gangan said.
The district, in partnership with the Municipal Disaster and Risk Reduction Management Office in Aparri, the PNP Maritime Group and other volunteers successfully assisted 197 passengers who were stranded at Dappa Wharf in the town of Aparri who were about to return to their respective homes in Barangay Linao, Aparri.
Most of the passengers were students from Cagayan State University who were on their way home after the suspension of classes at all levels was declared also on Tuesday.
Gangan said no maritime incidents have been reported in their area of responsibility, but they continue to coordinate with their stations in Aurora, Cagayan, Batanes and Calayan so that they can continue to implement their “no-sail policy” while storm warning signals remain hoisted throughout the region.
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