Bicol on red alert, prepares for tropical depression Ambo amid coronavirus

Rhaydz B. Barcia
Bicol prepares for a 'complex disaster' amid the coronavirus pandemic. Evacuation will need to follow strict protocols for COVID-19 prevention.

Satellite image of Tropical Depression Ambo as of May 11, 2020, 11 pm. Image from NOAA

ALBAY, Philippines – Red alert was raised over Bicol region on Tuesday, May 12, as the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC) prepared for tropical depression Ambo

Local officials were wary of a “complex disaster” amid the coronavirus pandemic especially in Albay, the sole province in the region to remain under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Ambo was expected to hit land on Thursday, May 14, to bring moderate to heavy rains that could trigger possible flooding and landslides in low-lying and mountainous areas.

Albay Public Safety Emergency Management Office chief Cedric Daep said they’re preparing for the possible evacuation of residents. 

Evacuation would need to be implemented in accordance with protocols for COVID-19 prevention. “We will be implementing selective evacuation by establishing separate rooms for families with elderlies and children ages 19 and below, as well as an isolation area for people with health concerns,” said Daep. 

“The designated COVID-19 quarantine facilities would not be used as evacuation centers,” said Daep.

Daep said they will also ask evacuees to stay with relatives if they can to avoid crowding in the evacuation centers. 

OCD regional director Claudio Yucot also directed the rest of the disaster response officials in the region to monitor their areas of responsibility and to implement preparedness measures to ensure public safety. 

Yucot reminded them to prepare holding areas for buses en route to affected ports and to implement the “no-sailing” policy beginning 12 noon on Wednesday. 

“In order to prepare for the upcoming weather disturbance “TD Ambo” that may affect Bicol, we are asking all provincial, city and municipal disaster officials to use non-Covid 19 facilities as evacuation centers. But we need to ensure that social distancing must be observed while evacuation centers,” Yucot said in an emergency briefing on Tuesday.

The entire Bicol region was scheduled to adapt a modified general community quarantine beginning May 16. – Rappler.com