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Hundreds evacuate as Super Typhoon ‘Goring’ batters northern region

Hundreds of people fled their homes as floods unleashed by Super Typhoon “Goring” (international name: Saola) swept through mainly rural villages in the northeastern Philippines, rescue officials said Sunday.

Goring brushed past the northeast section of the main island of Luzon overnight Saturday, bringing its 185-kilometer-per-hour central winds within 125 kilometers of Tuguegarao.

The provincial government’s press office released photos on its Facebook page of knee-deep floodwaters swamping homes in the municipality of Aparri.

Disaster officials reported that 1,968 people in Region 1 and Cagayan Valley were affected as Goring knocked down electrical posts and felled trees in its path, and brought floods in some areas Sunday.

SUPER TYPHOON’S WRATH. The Maraburab Elementary School (left) in Alcala, Cagayan is submerged in floodwaters as Super Typhoon ‘Goring’ maintained its strength Sunday. At least 1,339 people were evacuated in Cagayan over the weekend. Cagayan PIO / Sto. Nino MDRRMO

Most of the affected residents or 1,339 people were in Cagayan Valley while 629 people affected were in the Ilocos Region, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said in its latest report Sunday.

Goring headed south off Luzon’s east coast early Sunday, with the state weather service saying it would stay in coastal waters instead of making landfall.

So far, 832 people or 213 families were transferred to 24 evacuation centers because of the super typhoon. There were also 265 people or 78 families staying in other places outside of evacuation centers.

Goring has also caused P40 million worth of infrastructure damage in Cagayan Valley where eight roads and two bridges were rendered passable, the latest report said.

NDRRMC spokesperson Edgar Posadas said several areas in the Ilocos Region and Cagayan Valley were flooded because of the continuous rain.

“So far it’s still manageable, because we haven’t received any major reports or major requests for assistance,” Posadas said in an interview over radio dzBB.

Posadas said the council was also on red alert, implementing heightened preparedness measures as the cyclone intensified into a super typhoon while barreling towards northern Luzon.

Under red alert, the council’s emergency operations center (EOC) at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, as well as its local counterparts, are in full force both physically and virtually and NDRRMC member agencies critical to response and preparedness are also fully staffed to address emergencies more quickly, he said.

“We decided to place these regions under red alert to ensure that we are more focused and prepared in responding or addressing all that is needed from us as super typhoon Goring threatens Luzon,” the NDRRMC spokesperson said in an interview with TeleRadyo Serbisyo.

Posadas noted that the NDRRMC has identified the needs of the five regions under red alert, and that the council’s resources were ready as they sought “the guidance of the President.”

The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Joint Information Center head Diego Agustin Mariano said Sunday there were no reported casualties so far due to the super typhoon.

The provinces of Cagayan and Isabela started to feel the effects of Goring on Saturday night.

Heavy rains and strong winds knocked down some electric posts, rendering almost the entire Districts 1 and 2 without power, Cagayan Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) head Ruelie Rapsing said on Sunday.

There were also fallen trees reported near the municipality of Sta. Teresita, he added.

Flooding was also reported in the towns of Lal-lo, Sta. Ana, Gonzaga and some residents in the town of Baggao were evacuated due to the threat of a landslide.

Some residents in the coastal town of Divilacan in Isabela were evacuated as their houses are made of light materials, PDRRMO head Constante Foronda Jr. said.

Goring persisted in strength while moving south sourteatward east northeast of Casiguran, Aurora on Sunday afternoon.

Tropical cyclone wind signal no. 3 was raised over the eastern portion of Isabela and extreme Signal no. 2 was raised in the eastern portion of mainland Cagayan, the central portion of Isabela (Maconacon, Cabagan, Tumauini, San Pablo, Benito Soliven, northern portion of Aurora and the eastern portion of Quirino.

Batanes, the rest of Cagayan including Babuyan Islands, the rest of Aurora, the rest of Quirino, the rest of Isabela, Apayao, Nueva Vizcaya, Ifugao, Mountain Province, Kalinga, Abra, the eastern portion of Ilocos Norte, Polillo Islands, the eastern portion of Benguet, and the eastern portion of Nueva Ecija and Calaguas Islands were under signal no. 1.

Goring is forecast to remain at Super Typhoon category until it makes landfall over southern Taiwan, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

The center of the eye of the super typhoon was estimated at 95 kilometers east of Casiguran, Aurora.

It was moving south southeastward slowly, packing maximum sustained winds of 185 km/h near the center and gustiness of up to 230 km/h.

The weather service said the main threat was from heavy rain that could trigger flash floods or landslides.

Up to 200 millimeters (nearly eight inches) of rain was forecast to fall along Cagayan and Isabela’s coasts during the day. All commercial flights at the airports in Tuguegarao, Cauayan, Palanan, and Basco were canceled.

The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) announced the flight suspension Sunday as it prepared precautionary measures against Goring in northwestern Luzon.

CAAP spokesperson Eric Apolonio said airports that may potentially be affected by the bad weather condition include Tuguegarao Airport, Basco Airport, Itbayat Airport, Cauayan Airport, and Palanan Airport.

Additionally, airports in Laoag, Vigan, and Baguio are also gearing up for possible harsh weather conditions.

Laoag International Airport flights of Cebu Pacific Air (CEB) to and from Manila were also canceled, affecting more than 160 passengers.

Two other CEB flights in Baguio to and from Cebu were also suspended. More than 60 passengers were affected and are being accommodated on the next available flight.

Lingayen Airport experienced a power interruption starting at 7:00 a.m. to noon.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Saturday assured the public that the government was prepared to respond to communities that would be hit by Goring.

In a statement posted on social media, Marcos said the government is monitoring the typhoon-stricken areas, particularly those situated in Northern Luzon.

“Our disaster and response units are also on standby if evacuation and rescue operations are required,” he said in Filipino.

Marcos said the Department of Social Welfare and Development has already positioned over 10,000 food packs in the affected areas.

He said the government would make sure that there is a sufficient supply of food and other non-food items until the typhoon exits the country.

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) urged local chief executives in the Cagayan Valley Region and other affected regions to be on their toes.

In a statement on Sunday, the DILG said it had directed as early as Friday its Region 2 (Cagayan Valley) office to activate the Emergency Operations Center (EOC) and Disaster Online Reporting and Monitoring System (DORMS) to ensure that local government units adhered to disaster protocols.

“The safety of our people is primordial. Hence, affected LGUs must implement preemptive evacuation when necessary, prioritize the health and safety of all response personnel and evacuees, and preposition supplies and equipment,” Interior Secretary Benjamin Abalos Jr. said in a news release.

LGUs were also reminded to continuously inform and advise affected communities of situation updates and intensify the use of social media platforms for public information.

The Philippines is hit by an average of 20 major storms each year that kill hundreds of people and keep vast regions in perpetual poverty. — With AFP

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