NegOcc braces for ‘Auring’

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Local government units in Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City, are bracing for the possible onslaught of Tropical Storm Auring this coming Sunday, Feb. 21.

Bacolod City Disaster Management cluster head Jose Maria Vargas met with leaders of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office response team Thursday afternoon, Feb. 18 to discuss preparations for Typhoon Auring.

The PAGASA track of Tropical Depression Auring as of 11 p.m. of Feb. 18, 2021; right photo, Jose Maria Vargas, Bacolod Disaster Management Cluster head, gives details on the preparation for ‘Auring’ to DRRMO response team members. | PAGASA / CDRRMO Photos

Vargas assured Bacoleños that emergency and evacuation plans are already in place.

He reminded the group heads of their respective tasks as cluster in-charge of the rescue, transport, evacuation center, relief and medical operations also reported their own preparations. 

Equipment and other logistical needs of each group were also reviewed.

A 24/7 team will render duty starting Saturday at the Command Center at the Bacolod Government Center, Vargas said.

Seven barangays are considered flood-prone, he said, adding that not all schools can be used as evacuation center since others are being utilized as isolation facilities for COVID-19 patients.

Vargas said he will clarify with the Department of Education other probable evacuation centers.

In neighboring Talisay, the city government procured starting Thursday, Feb. 18, additional food packs to refill its standby supply in preparation for Tropical Storm Auring.

Dionela Madrona, head of the City Social Welfare Development Office, said they are preparing at least 1,000 food packs to aid residents in case there is a need for the pre-emptive evacuation of flood-prone barangays.

Madrona said the LGU’s standby relief packs have been depleted after four floods hit various barangays since January.

The CSWDO had requested for the immediate purchase of hot meals aside from the usual rice and canned goods for relief assistance.

The city government is also preparing non-food items such as used clothes and blankets as well as personal hygiene kits.

Talisay City has 27 barangays, 20 of which are considered flood-prone since these are situated near rivers, creeks and other water ways, she said.

The CSWDO has placed on standby two schools and covered courts as evacuation centers in case of continued heavy rains and increase of water level in rivers and creeks. 

The City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council headed by Mayor Neil Lizares is expected to call for a meeting today to check on the readiness of all departments for response operations.

At the Capitol, Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson directed the chairpersons of the City and Municipal DRMMCs in Negros Occidental to initiate proactive preparedness in their respective localities.

“You are to place your respective operations on heightened alert. All district hospitals are also advised to raise heightened alert to ensure preparedness,” Lacson said in a memorandum.

He directed the DRRMCs to take appropriate precautionary actions for possible flooding, flash floods, or landslides as well as ensure waterways are clear of obstruction, review contingency plans, and mitigate possible disaster risk.

In Negros Occidental, areas in the north have been experiencing massive floods due to heavy rains in the past several weeks since Jan. 1, displacing thousands of families and causing millions of damage to agriculture and infrastructure.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said in its advisory that “there is an increasing likelihood of heavy rainfall affecting the Visayas and several other areas over the weekend through Monday”.

“Residents in these areas and all DRRMOs concerned, especially those situated in areas identified in hazard maps to be highly or very highly susceptible to flooding and rain-induced landslides, are advised to take appropriate preparatory measures,” the weather bureau added. – MML