DENR calls for preemptive evacuation ahead of Zoraida

MANILA, Philippines – Days before another storm threatens the country following typhoon Yolanda, the government has urged local officials to evacuate people in landslide-prone areas as early as now.

On Tuesday, November 12, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) called on local government units (LGUs) in low-lying and landslide-prone areas in Bohol, Cebu and Southern Leyte – in the path of typhoon Zoraida – to conduct preemptive evacuation.

“Nothing can be construed as over-preparedness at this time,” DENR Secretary Ramon Paje said. “We have been bearing the brunt of the increased intensity and frequency of weather disturbances that have altogether resulted in massive loss of lives and property.”

Due to forced evacuations prior to Yolanda's landfall, said Paje, zero casualties were reported in around 20 areas identified as "highly suceptible to landfall" by the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB). These include barangays in Presentacion, Camarines Sur; Leon, Iloilo; the cities of Cebu and and Mandaue in Cebu province; and Cortes, Bohol.

Paje appealed for similar cooperation from local government units (LGUs) which are seen to be affected by Zoraida. The typhoon is forecast to make landfall in eastern Mindanao and move northwest through Visayas. Public storm warning signal #1 has been raised in 20 areas.

Although Zoraida is said to be less powerful than Yolanda, Paje warned that the volume of water brought by Zoraida might aggravate soil conditions, either saturated by rains or loosened by trees uprooted by Yolanda, and could lead to landslides.

In addition, he noted that DENR is monitoring soil conditions in Cebu and Bohol, which were hit by a 7.2-magnitude earthquake last October.

Paje also appealed to local officials to consult geohazard maps, which the MGB had distributed to all LGUs nationwide to indicate landslide and flood-prone areas.

Typhoon Yolanda (international codename Haiyan), one of the strongest storms in history, caused huge devastation in the Visayas area. The death toll is now at 1,774 according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC), but officials fear that the figure could reach 10,000.

At least 2.1 million families or 9.5 million people have been affected by typhoon Yolanda, reported the social welfare department. President Benigno Aquino III declared a state of national calamity on Tuesday evening. – Michael Bueza/Rappler.com

Get the latest info on the status of areas (http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/disasters/typhoon-yolanda/43350-aftermath-yolanda-what-we-know) affected by typhoon Yolanda (international codename: Haiyan). 

Help the victims of Yolanda. Visit Rappler's list of ongoing relief operations (http://www.rappler.com/move-ph/issues/disasters/43300-reliefph-victims-typhoon-yolanda-help) in your area. Tell us about your relief and recovery initiatives, email move.ph@rappler.com or tweet us @moveph.