More than 1 million evacuated in Bicol and Albay
At least ten people, including a five-year-old, were killed in Albay province as Typhoon “Rolly” (international name “Goni”), the strongest storm in the world this year, pounded the country yesterday with authorities warning of “catastrophic” conditions in the hardest-hit regions where hundreds of thousands have fled their homes.
“Rolly” made landfall on Catanduanes Island before dawn with maximum sustained wind speeds of 225 kilometers (140 miles) per hour and gusts of up to 310 kilometers per hour, ripping off roofs, toppling trees, and triggering flash floods. “Rolly” was downgraded from a “super typhoon” as it further weakened and made its third landfall over Quezon on Sunday afternoon.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) last observed “Rolly” over the coastal waters of Mulanay, Quezon at 1 p.m. After making its first landfall at Bato, Catanduanes, around 4:50 a.m. and second landfall at Tiwi, Albay, at 7:20 a.m., it made its third landfall in the vicinity of San Narciso, Quezon, at 12 noon.
“Rolly” has further weakened but still packs maximum sustained winds of 175 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 240 kilometers per hour.
It continues to move westward at 25 kilometers per hour.
Violent winds and intense rainfall associated with the region of the eyewall and inner rainbands of the typhoon are prevailing or expected within the next 12 hours over the Marinduque, Laguna, the eastern portion of Batangas, and Cavite.
PAGASA warned that this is a particularly dangerous situation for these areas.
“Goni is the strongest tropical cyclone” in history, said Jeff Masters, a meteorologist with Yale Climate Connections and co-founder of Weather Underground.
The previous record was held by Super Typhoons “Meranti” and “Haiyan,” which hit the Philippines in 2016 and 2013, respectively.
There have been 347,000 people evacuated, according to Ricardo Jalad, executive director of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC).
Nineteen million to 31 million people could be affected by the storm, based on the population count in areas within its path, according to Mark Timbal, NDRRMC spokesman.
Deaths and destruction
Albay Governor Alfrancis Bichara said two of the victims drowned while another was swept away by volcanic mud.
The fourth was killed by a falling tree.
“The winds are fierce. We can hear the trees being pummeled. It’s very strong,” Francia Mae Borras, 21, told AFP from her home in the coastal city of Legazpi in Albay.
The roofs of two evacuation centers were torn off by the force of the wind and the occupants moved to the ground floors, the provincial public safety chief Cedric Daep told DZBB radio station.
“Flash floods inundated our villages,” said Carlos Irwin Baldo, the mayor of Camalig, near Legazpi.
“Our roads have a lot of debris from the mountains such as branches and sand, some of which came from Mayon (volcano). Some roads are impassable.”
Hundreds of houses were buried in mudflow in Brgy. San Francisco, Guinobatan, Albay.
So far, 346,993 people have been evacuated from their homes, Civil Defense chief Ricardo Jalad said.
In Manila, residents were being evacuated from low-lying slum areas at risk of being inundated by high storm surges.
The city’s airport has been closed as the typhoon approaches.
Loud alarms blared from mobile phones as the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council issued an emergency alert warning of “very destructive to devastating” winds for Manila and surrounding provinces in the coming hours.
Thousands of soldiers and police were on standby to help with evacuations and rescue efforts.
Disaster agencies spent Saturday marshalling vehicles, emergency response teams, and relief goods before the storm’s arrival.
The weather service has warned of flooding and landslides as “Rolly” dumps heavy rain across the alreadysoaked region.
Storm signals Signal No. 4 was hoisted over Camarines Norte, the northwestern portion of Camarines Sur (Sipocot, Lupi, Ragay, Del Gallego), Marinduque, Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon including Polillo Islands, Pampanga, Bulacan, the southern portion of Aurora (Dingalan), Bataan, the southern portion of Zambales (San Marcelino, San Felipe, San Narciso, San Antonio, Castillejos, Subic, Olongapo City, Botolan, Cabangan), the northwestern portion of Occidental Mindoro (Mamburao, Paluan) including Lubang Island, and the northern portion of Oriental Mindoro (Victoria, Naujan Lake, Pola, Naujan, Calapan City, Baco, San Teodoro, Puerto Galera); Signal No. 3 was raised over rest of Camarines Sur, the rest of Zambales, Tarlac, the southern portion of Nueva Ecija (Cuyapo, Talugtug, Muñoz City, Llanera, Rizal, Bongabon, Gabaldon, General Tinio, Laur, Palayan City, General Mamerto Natividad, Cabanatuan City, Santa Rosa, Peñaranda, Gapan City, San Isidro, Cabiao, San Antonio, Jaen, San Leonardo, Zaragoza, Aliaga, Talavera, Santo Domingo, Quezon, Licab, Guimba, Nampicuan), the central portion of Aurora (San Luis, Baler, Maria Aurora), the northern portion of Occidental Mindoro (Santa Cruz, Sablayan), Burias Island, the northern portion of Oriental Mindoro (Socorro, Pinamalayan, Gloria, Bansud, Bongabong, Roxas), and Romblon; Signal No. 2 was up in the rest of Aurora, Nueva Vizcaya, Quirino, Benguet, La Union, Pangasinan, the rest of Nueva Ecija, Catanduanes, Albay, Sorsogon, the northern portion of Masbate (Aroroy, Mandaon, Balud, Baleno, Milagros, Masbate City, Mobo, Uson, Cawayan, Dimasalang) including Ticao Island, the rest of Occidental Mindoro, and the rest of Oriental Mindoro; Signal No. 1 was raised over mainland Cagayan, Isabela, Apayao, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Ifugao, Abra, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, the rest of Masbate, and the northern portion of Palawan (El Nido, Taytay, Dumaran, Araceli), including Calamian and Cuyo Islands, the northern portion of Antique (Sebaste, Culasi, Tibiao, Barbaza, Laua-An, Pandan, Libertad, Caluya), Aklan, Capiz, the northern portion of Iloilo (Lemery, Sara, Concepcion, San Dionisio, Batad, Estancia, Balasan, Carles), and the northwestern portion of Northern Samar (Allen, Victoria, Lavezares, Rosario, San Jose, Biri, San Isidro, San Antonio, Capul, San Vicente).
PAGASA said the center of the typhoon will continue to move over the Marinduque and Central Quezon area this afternoon and towards the Batangas and Cavite area late afternoon through evening.
The center of the eye of “Rolly” is expected around 70 kilometers south of Metro Manila from 4-7 p.m. Sunday.
“Rolly” is forecast to exit mainland Luzon and reach the West Philippine Sea tonight.
During its traverse of Southern Luzon, Rolly” is forecast to weaken but will emerge as a typhoon over the West Philippine Sea.
PAGASA said that “Rolly” will bring heavy to intense rains over Calabarzon, Metro Manila, Marinduque, Romblon, Mindoro Provinces, Bataan, Bulacan, Aurora, and the eastern portions of mainland Cagayan and Isabela.
Moderate to heavy rains will be experienced over the Cordillera Administrative Region, and the rest of mainland Cagayan Valley and Central Luzon.
Light to moderate with at times heavy rains will be experienced over Zamboanga Peninsula, Bangsamoro, Western Visayas, and the rest of Luzon.
PAGASA warned that flooding, rain-induced landslides, and sediment-laden streamflows or lahar may occur during heavy or prolonged rainfall, especially in areas that are highly or very highly susceptible to these hazards. Very destructive to devastating typhoon-force winds will be experienced in areas under Signal No. 4.
Destructive typhoon-force winds may be felt in areas under Signal No. 3, damaging gale- to storm-force winds in areas under Signal No. 2, and strong breeze to near gale conditions in areas under Signal No. 1. In the next 24 hours, there is a high risk of storm surge of up to three meters over the northern coastal areas of Quezon including Polillo Islands, coastal areas of Metro Manila, Cavite, Bulacan, Pampanga, Bataan, the southeastern coastal area of Batangas (facing Tayabas Bay), and most of the southern coastal areas of Quezon; and up to two meters over the coastal areas of Marinduque, Lubang Island, Albay, Masbate (including Ticao and Burias Islands), the northern coastal area of Mindoro Provinces, and the remaining coastal areas of Quezon, and Batangas.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced the suspension of the operations of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1) and 2 (LRT-2), Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), and Philippine National Railways (PNR) as Signal No. 4 was raised in Metro Manila due to super typhoon “Rolly.”
“In line with the latest severe weather bulletin issued by PAGASA placing Metro Manila under Signal No. 4, please be informed that LRT-1, LRT-2, and MRT-3 will suspend their respective operations effective immediately,” the DOTr said in an advisory.
‘Siony’ enters PAR
Two tropical cyclones are now inside the Philippine Area of Responsibility (PAR) with the entry of tropical storm “Atsani” Sunday morning.
PAGASA weather specialist Chris Perez said “Atsani” entered the PAR around 8 a.m. and was given a local name “Siony.” Around 10 a.m., the center of “Siony” was 1,365 kilometers east of Central Luzon.
It intensified prior to entry and now has maximum sustained winds of 75 kilometers per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 90 kph. Perez said “Siony” remains less likely to affect the country over the next two to three days, but advised the public to continue monitoring developments regarding this tropical cyclone.
Based on its latest forecast track, Perez said “Siony” may generally move northwest until Monday evening, then slowly west-southwest by Tuesday.
If its projected track does not change, Siony will be 895 kms east of Aparri, Cagayan by Monday morning; 785 kms east-southeast of Basco, Batanes, by Tuesday morning; 780 kms east of Calayan, Cagayan, by Wednesday morning; 530 kms east of Aparri, Cagayan, by Thursday morning; and 40 kms southwest of Calayan, Cagayan, by Friday morning.
Safety officers in evacuation centers
The Department of Health (DoH) reminded local government units to have safety officers in their evacuation centers in order to monitor the condition of evacuees and their compliance with health protocols amid the threat of typhoon “Rolly.”
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that having a safety officer in evacuation sites will help in minimizing the risk of having COVID19 in such temporary shelters.
Aside from safety officers, the LGUs must also ensure that there are hand-washing stations or alcohols being provided to evacuees.
The DOH also advised the public to still observe other health protocols.
“Takpan ang bibig at ilong kapag uubo o babahing. Itapon ng mabuti ang ginamit na tissue at mask. Iwasan ang paghawak sa bibig, ilong, at mata (Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing. Dispose properly your used tissue and mask. Avoid touching your mouth, nose, and eyes),” it reminded.
The Health department advised the public to not wade in floodwaters and to wear protection when walking in flooded streets to avoid leptospirosis.
AFP deploys 4,860 soldiers
The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) placed on standby status around 4,860 soldiers for possible humanitarian and disaster response (HADR) operations as the entire military has been placed on “red alert” status due to Typhoon “Rolly.”
AFP Chief General Gilbert Gapay said the regular forces were from the joint task forces of the Northern Luzon Command (NolCom), South Luzon Command (SolCom), Central Command (CentCom) in Visayas, and National Capital Region (JTF-NCR).
The regular forces were augmented by some 2,000 Civilian Armed Force Geographical Unit (CAFGU) members and 1,000 military reservists, he said. “We have continuous coordination between the various task forces and regional DRRMCs [disaster risk reduction and management councils] and LGUs [local government units] as well as other government agencies for possible HADR operations,” Gapay said.
Six aircraft from the Philippine Air Force and four ships from the Philippine Navy were also prepared to perform disaster response operations.
The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) deployed 1,520 personnel to man the inspection of sea ports in various parts of the country, especially in areas where sea travels are prohibited.
PCG Commandant Admiral George Usabia Jr. said their Command Center, all Coast Guard districts, stations, and sub-stations were ordered to go on standby to immediately respond during emergency situations.
Usabia led the inspection of the Manila Yacht Club on Roxas Boulevard on Sunday morning where he noted that all the vessels adhered to his command to take shelter while a “no sail” policy was in effect in highrisk areas.
PCG spokesman Commodore Armand Balilo said they have monitored extremely rough sea condition in 13 ports in Bicol Region as of early Sunday. This meant that there was zero visibility, strong winds, and big waves in these ports.
These were in the ports of Pioduran, Legazpi, Bacacay, Rapu-Rapu, Tabaco, and Pasacao, in Albay; Masbate City, San Jacinto, San Pascual, Cataingan, and Aroroy in Masbate province; Matnog and Pilar in Sorsogon.
A total of 1,013 passengers, drivers, and helpers, as well as three vessels, two motor bancas, and 443 rolling cargoes, were stranded in these ports, Balilo said.