What gov’t has done so far to prepare for Typhoon Ompong

Sofia Tomacruz
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council activates clusters responsible for ensuring crucial assistance is provided to typhoon-hit areas

OMPONG BRIEFING. President Rodrigo Duterte speaks with National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council Executive Director Ricardo Jalad on September 13, 2018. Malacañang photo

MANILA, Philippines – As President Rodrigo Duterte held a command conference on Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut) on Thursday afternoon, September 13, practically the entire Luzon was placed under Signal No. 1.

By Thursday evening, Isabela had already been placed under Signal No. 2, with Ompong continuing to threaten Northern Luzon. (READ: Duterte sends Cabinet members to Luzon provinces in Ompong’s path)

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) has been on red alert since September 11, which means its personnel are on duty 24/7.

Office of Civil Defense (OCD) Undersecretary and NDRRMC Executive Director Ricardo Jalad also said response clusters have been activated. During a typhoon’s landfall, this means several teams are deployed to respond to affected communities.(READ: EXPLAINER: Who’s supposed to be in charge during disasters?)

These clusters are responsible for ensuring crucial assistance is provided to typhoon-hit areas.

Here’s what the government has done so far to prepare for Ompong:

OCD
Clusters: Logistics, emergency telecommunications

  • Regional disaster risk reduction and management councils and OCD regional offices in affected areas continue to disseminate weather advisories to member agencies, media, and through mobile warnings as well as social media 
  • Raised alert status of regional offices, prepared respective contingency plans
  • Prepositioned 38,135 hygiene kits, 1,410 family packs in the Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, and OCD central office 
  • Deployed administrative and logistical support to the NDRRMC rapid deployment team
  • Equipped teams with satellite phones and secured voice, internet requirements

Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD)
Clusters: Food and non-food items, coordination and management, protection of internally displaced persons

  • Deployed national quick response team to Batanes 
  • Placed regional quick response teams on standby for immediate deployment 
  • Continues to repack relief goods

Earlier, the DSWD also announced it had gone on red alert to monitor areas in the path of Ompong and prepare for disaster response. It also secured communication lines and prepositioned food and non-food items for quick delivery to affected areas.

Department of Health (DOH) 
Clusters: Health, with sub-clusters on health services, water sanitation, mental and psychosocial support, and nutrition

  • Activated alert code
  • Placed emergency response teams on standby for deployment 
  • Issued health advisories related to Ompong
  • Deployed members for the rapid damage assessment team 
  • Prepositioned medicines, P19 million worth of logistics to affected provinces
  • Placed 28 medical and public health teams on standby
  • Alerted hospitals to receive patients affected by the typhoon
  • Ensured standby generators are functional 
  • Set aside P42 million worth of logistics at the DOH central office

Department of National Defense (DND), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
Cluster: Search, rescue and retrieval

  • Positioned water and land assets for disaster response operations

Deployed 18 teams or about 146 personnel to assist the following clusters and agencies: 

  • DSWD quick reaction team 
  • Response cluster’s rapid damage assessment and needs analysis team 
  • Incident management team 
  • Department of Information and Communications Technology, OCD emergency telecommunications team 
  • Philippine Air Force (PAF) air ambulance team 
  • AFP, PAF search and rescue teams

Department of Education (DepEd)

  • Ensured availability of funds for temporary learning centers, cleanups, repairs, teachers and learners’ kits, emergency school feeding
  • Initiated tracking system for school officials
  • Monitoring regions with class suspensions

Education Secretary Leonor Briones also said about 7.7 million learners in 19,704 schools have been affected by Ompong as classes have been suspended in at least 11 regions.

Deparment of Energy (DOE)

  • Completed fuel inventory in affected regions, resupplied fuel needs 
  • Placed 21 electrical line restoration teams on standby 
  • Placed 2 maintenance and testing teams on standby 
  • Positioned National Grid Corporation of the Philippines aircraft on standby for assessment 
  • Alerted cooperatives to undertake typhoon preparedness measures

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)

  • Emergency employment program in place 
  • Alerted Overseas Workers Welfare Administration offices to assist overseas Filipino workers in affected regions

Department of Agriculture (DA)

  • Advised farmers in affected areas to harvest crops
  • Positioned howling trucks for animal evacuation 
  • Activated the agent disaster response team 
  • Advised fishermen to avoid venturing out into seaboards of affected areas

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol also estimated that Ompong would affect a total of 1,220,000 hectares of rice and corn. This may reduce the country’s rice supply and result in losses of about P3.6 billion to P7.9 billion.

In addition to these, local government units, the AFP, the Philippine National Police, and the Philippine Coast Guard were also placed on alert to respond to the typhoon.

Ompong is the Philippines’ 15th tropical cyclone for 2018. The country usually gets an average of 20 tropical cyclones per year. (READ: LIST: PAGASA’s names for tropical cyclones in 2018) – Rappler.com

News you can use during Typhoon Ompong (Mangkhut): 

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.