tropical cyclones in PH

Odette threatens 3,000 Eastern Visayas barangays with landslides, floods

Lance Lim, Brynch Bonachita
Odette threatens 3,000 Eastern Visayas barangays with landslides, floods

ODETTE. Satellite image of Severe Tropical Storm Odette (Rai) as of December 15, 2021, 6 am.

NOAA

Guiuan town starts the forced evacuation of coastal communities

The Guiuan municipal government started the forced evacuation of coastal barangay residents early Wednesday, December 15, as Eastern Visayas and other parts of the Philippines’ central group of islands braced for Severe Tropical Storm Odette.

The Guiuan disaster teams started fetching residents around 7 am or a few hours after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned that Odette was nearing typhoon status.

During its 5 am update, PAGASA said Odette had maximum sustained winds of 110 kilometers per hour from the previous 100 km/h, while its gustiness increased to 135 km/h from 125 km/h.

Rodrigo Jay Miralles, Eastern Visayas senior geologist of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), said on Tuesday night, December 14, that certain areas of a total of 3,124 barangays in Leyte, Southern Leyte, Eastern Samar, and Northern Samar are at risk in terms of landslide and flooding.

The December 14 MGB geohazard advisory listed the number of areas that are at-risk in Eastern Visayas :

  • Eastern Samar: 593
  • Leyte: 1,389
  • Northern Samar: 517
  • Samar: 125
  • Southern Leyte: 500

PAGASA will upgrade Odette into a typhoon once its maximum sustained winds reach at least 118 km/h, likely on Wednesday. But it already warned that Odette could bring heavy to torrential rains to the region by Thursday morning.

The weather service expects Odette to reach a peak intensity of 155 km/h before making landfall in Caraga or Eastern Visayas on Thursday afternoon or evening, December 16.

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Severe Tropical Storm Odette nears typhoon category

Severe Tropical Storm Odette nears typhoon category

Guiuan, located in the southernmost tip of Samar island, was one of the most heavily affected areas during the onslaught of Super Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. 

The Guiuan Municipal Hall, the Eastern Samar State University (ESSU), and Sirongan have been identified as evacuation centers. 

As of now, no areas in Biliran, the northwestern portion of Leyte, and the far western side of Samar have been identified as at-risk, Miralles said.

“This is because rainfall accumulation data that is available today is concentrated on the southern portion and eastern portion of Samar,” he explained.

Guiuan Mayor Annaliza Gonzales-Kwan told Rappler in an earlier interview that they are working on building more evacuation centers as part of their recovery efforts. 

“We are still working on building more evacuation centers because not all barangays have evacuation centers, especially now that typhoons are becoming more frequent,” Kwan said. 

The local government of Guiuan released various contact numbers where people can reach out to in case of emergencies:

  • Guian Municipal Government
    • Smart: 09700233300, 09280533972
    • Globe: 09958741177, 09267077276, 09177032642
  • MDRRMO: 0926-414-5752
  • PNP: 0917-349-8833
Travel dangers

The weather bureau warned that moderate to high seas, with waves 1.2 to 7 meters high, will be experienced in seaboards of areas under Signal No. 1 on Wednesday.

“These conditions are risky for all types of sea vessels. Mariners are advised to remain in port or take shelter in port until winds and waves subside,” PAGASA said.

The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) on December 14 said land travel to and from Luzon and Mindanao was no longer allowed (except for those already in transit).

However, in the same briefing, the RDRRMC said sea travel would continue until authorities issue a memorandum on the temporary suspension of port operations. This would include Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) ships traversing the Matnog, Sorsogon to Allen, Northern Samar routes. – Rappler.com

Lance Lim and Brynch Bonachita are Visayas based journalists and awardees of the Aries Rufo Journalism fellowship.