December 3, 2012 12:03 AM
By: Francis Allan L. Angelo and Tara Yap
ILOILO IS getting ready for super typhoon Pablo (international name Bopha).
While the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration (PAGASA) estimates that the typhoon will make landfall via southern Mindanao, disaster officials in Iloilo are not taking chances.
As of Sunday afternoon, PAGASA monitored "Bopha" with sustained winds of 185 kilometers per hour (kph) and gustiness of up to 220 kph. It was last located 1,380 km east of Southern Mindanao and expected to move west northwest at 20 kph. It will be named Pablo when it enters the Philippine area of responsibility.
Typhoon “Pablo” is expected to be at 660 km east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur today and by Tuesday morning, it will be at 140 km east notheast of Hinatuan or 230 km east southeast of Surigao City and at 60 km North of Dumaguete City by Wednesday morning
If the typhoon continues its path, it is expected to hit Iloilo Wednesday.
According to Jerry Bionat, executive director of the Iloilo Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, all disaster risk reduction and management councils (DRRMCs) in the 42 towns and one component city have been alerted to prepare.
Bionat does not know if Iloilo will be hit directly, but if the storm enters the eastern seaboard of Central and Eastern Visayas, then Iloilo will be greatly affected.
Bionat said is better to be prepared than and take the necessary precaution.
In Iloilo City, Mayor Jed Patrick Mabilog also directed the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (CDRRMC) to prepare its contingency plans and equipment in case the typhoon hits Iloilo.
Mabilog said the Iloilo City Emergency Response and other rescue groups will be on standby beginning today even as he called for a meeting with the CDRRMC.
“On Tuesday, I will call for a special session of the City Council so they can declare a state of calamity and we can tap our calamity fund if the storm continues on its path and hits Western Visayas. I will also suspend classes in all levels and offices in the City Hall if the storm hits us on Wednesday. I hope and pray that we will be spared but we are ready for any eventuality,” he said.
Mabilog said he also directed barangays captains in flood prone areas to warn and evacuate residents who are at risk before the storm hits the city.
Department of Interior and Local Government regional director Evelyn Trompeta also called for a meeting of the Regional DRRMC today as part of their preparations.
Pablo’s strong gustiness is expected to affect power supply in Iloilo City, thus sole power distributor Panay Electric Co. (Peco) is doubling its preparations even before the storm hits Iloilo.
Engr. Randy Pastolero, Peco vice president for operations, said they have accomplished 95 percent of their tree trimming activities to prevent tree branches from tripping their distribution and feeder lines.
Ongoing rehabilitation/replacement of posts with steel and concrete materials will assure sturdy power lines during strong winds, Pastolero said.
“Our lines are healthier now because of the improvements we have been implementing,” he added.
Peco is also doubling its line teams and trouble shooting crews who will respond to faults and restore power supply immediately.
“Our contractor has three line teams plus Peco’s organic team, so we have five who will respond to localized outages. They are complete with equipment which will check for line faults and even put up posts in case some topple down due to strong winds. Our supervisors will also be on alert to help out when the storm hits us,” Pastolero said.
PNP on alert
Chief Supt. Agrimero Cruz, Jr., Police Regional Office (PRO-6) director, directed all field commanders to prepare for the coming of a typhoon tomorrow.
Cruz ordered for the accounting of search and rescue equipment in coordination with the local disaster risk reduction management council and local government units.
Cruz said it is necessary to alert all police units, other concerned agencies and organizations for the preparations in order to mitigate its impact to lives and properties.
A regional search and rescue rapid deployment battalion will also be organized to respond to areas in Region 6 which will be affected by typhoon.
Cruz revealed that SAR equipage of police units is limited but he is optimistic that police personnel are trained to respond to emergencies.
He, however, enjoined the public to take necessary actions to help ensure their safety and security in case natural disaster hits the area.
Last June 2008, the flashflood of Typhoon Frank displaced 2 million people in Panay Island and greatly affected the city and province of Iloilo.
At that time, weather forecast from PAGASA failed to predict that the typhoon will make landfall in Panay. As a result, people were caught unaware.