BUTUAN CITY –– The Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) in the Caraga region have ordered preemptive evacuations in Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and Dinagat provinces, which have a high risk of being battered by Tropical Storm “Auring.”
The storm has been moving closer to Mindanao and is expected to hit land on Saturday.
Liza Mazo, OCD regional director and concurrent head of Caraga’s RDRRMC, said she had instructed local governments in the three provinces to effect the preemptive evacuations on Friday.
“We expect the storm to make landfall on Feb. 20, so we have the entire day on Friday to finish the evacuations,” Mazo explained.
“I don’t want to sound an alarmist, but they should be alarmed. People and their respective local governments should not be complacent as fatal incidents happen when we let our guard down, so we need to be prepared and evacuate our communities,” Mazo added.
“The lessons from the past should not be taken lightly and guide the stakeholders in dealing with the storm. The most recent was Tropical Depression Vicky in December 2020, which caught most of the affected local governments off guard, scrambling to rescue stranded residents from the rising floodwaters in different parts of Agusan del Sur and Surigao del Sur,” she pointed out.
Mazo said Caraga local governments had been ordered to take steps to ensure the safety of people.
She added that preemptive evacuations are directed at communities in flood-prone as well as landslide-prone areas.
Mazo said Auring was expected to pick up strength, and “we need our local governments to be pro-active” given that many areas in the region are vulnerable to floods and landslides.
Mazo added that they have a special concern for maintaining physical distancing so that coronavirus would not spread during evacuations.
In Siargao Island, the Philippine Coast Guard has suspended beginning Thursday all trips of vessels 20 tons and below due to expected bad weather.
Elaine Pangilinan, acting commander of the Siargao station, issued the order based on a severe weather bulletin published by the state weather bureau.