LOOK: Bicol braces for Urduja

Rhaydz B. Barcia
Close to 5,000 passengers are stranded in various seaports in Bicol region

PREPARATIONS. Fishermen bring their boat to safety in preparation for Tropical Storm Urduja. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) in Bicol on Friday, December 15, urged the public and disaster responders to brace for Tropical Storm Urduja (Kai-tak).

Claudio Yucot, OCD regional director, ordered disaster responders to prepare for contingency measures to ensure public safety and attain the zero casualty goal of the government.

While Filipinos in other parts of the country prepared for Simbang Gabi, Bicolanos parepared for Urduja, which has stranded close to 5,000 passengers across the Bicol region. Last year, Typhoon Nina hit Albay province on Christmas Day. 

Vicente Malaiba, a 51-year-old resident of Barangay Pigcale in this city, tried to fix his home built along the coastal area. He placed small bags of sand on the roof to protect his home from Urduja.

“We will be evacuating to the safer area to ensure that my family is safe but I’m putting up bags of sand on the roof so that it would not be blown away by the wind. Hopefully,” Malaiba said. 

HARD AT WORK. Men fortify their roofs with rope and small bags filled with sand to keep them from being blown off by strong winds. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

Mayor Noel Rosal warned the public to be on heightened alert and be ready for evacuation.

“We will conduct an evacuation probably tomorrow for residents living in the lo- lying areas, specifically in [areas that are] flood prone, lahar prone, and threatened by storm surges,” Rosal said.Mayor Noel Rosal urged the public to be on heightened alert and be ready for evacuation.

Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay Public Safety Emergency Management Office, said that Urduja “will be bringing in more rain so we might expect for possible lahar flow.”

“It will also trigger landslide and flooding so we need to prepare. Bicol will not be spared from Urduja’s wrath….The problem is Urduja is quite erratic and will be bringing with it moderate to intense rainfall,” Daep said.    

He also warned residents living in coastal communities of storm surges “as high as 3 meters.

“We will impose evacuation if need be. But we will conduct an assessment later this afternoon before enforcing evacuation tomorrow morning. For fishermen, we’re reiterating not to venture to the seas for your safety,” Daep said.

LEGAZPI SHORELINE. Strong winds and waves hit Legazpi's shores. Photo by Rhaydz Barcia/Rappler

The provinces of Albay, Catanduanes, Camarines Sur, Sorsogon, and Masbate, including Burias and Ticao Islands, had been placed under Storm Signal Number 1. Classes across the Bicol region were suspended.

In Albay, Governor Al Francis Bichara suspended government work as a precautionary measure, and alerted the residents on possible landslides and flashfloods. – Rappler.com