By Calvin Cordova
CEBU CITY — Authorities here are bracing for possible effects of typhoon Ompong.
The Office of the Civil Defense-Central Visayas (OCD 7) on Wednesday conducted a pre-disaster risk assessment where representatives of at least 40 law enforcement agencies and disaster response units gathered to present their preparedness measures.
OCD 7 regional director Concepcion Ornopia said that while Ompong will not directly hit Region 7, precautionary measures are still being taken to ensure the safety of the public.
Oscar Tabada, Visayas director of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), said Ompong will cause heavy rains in Region 7 as it will enhance Habagat or southwest monsoon.
“In our latest monitoring, Ompong is heading towards northern Luzon at 20kph from the previous 30kph. If it’s moving slower, it will gain more strength. There is a big possibility that it will become a super typhoon,” said Tabada.
Ompong, the third typhoon to hit the country this month and the 15th this year, was expected to enter the Philippine Area of Responsibility yesterday afternoon.
Cebu’s Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO), on the other hand, warned those living in low-lying and landslide prone areas to be alert at all times.
PDRRMO chief, Baltazar Tribunalo, said disaster response units in the province are already on red alert status. “Our enemy here is the rain. That’s why we have already taken some measures that could help reduce flooding like drainage de-clogging,” said Tribunalo.
Tribunalo said the PDRRMO has intensified its information dissemination in relation to the coming typhoon. “It’s not enough that we have emergency responders. We have to improve our early warning system especially in far-flung areas. The community has to be aware,” Tribunalo said.
While the typhoon will spare Cebu, Tribunalo advised the public not to be complacent. “We should never be complacent. Those living in low-lying areas should prepare for evacuation. We have already coordinated with the barangays to prepare their personnel especially the tanods for possible forced evacuations,” said Tribunalo.
The PDRRMO has identified some areas in Cebu that are considered vulnerable to flooding. These areas include Carmen, Danao, Tuburan, Asturias, Balamban, ALoguinsan, Toledo, Pinamungajan, Toledo, Malabuyoc, Argao, San Fernando and Sibonga.