Disaster experts warn floods, landslides as rainy season sets in

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Albay floods due to typhoon Juaning. Photo by Willy Salazar
Albay floods due to typhoon Juaning. BICOLTODAY.COM FILE PHOTO / WILLY SALAZAR

LEGAZPI CITY (31May2013/PNA) – The local weather bureau here has cautioned disaster authorities to prepare and adapt disaster risk reduction contingency measures against floods, landslides and lahar flows in preparation for the rainy season in the next six months.

Landrico Dalida, regional director of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (Pagasa), said in a phone interview that the rainy seasons will start next month as indicated by a series of inter-tropical convergence zones that cause low pressure areas monitored by the agency’s weather stations.

Dalida said the series of ITCZs that brought along thick cloudiness was exhibited in the Visayas and Mindanao areas which, according to him, would continue to prevail in June to July.

The weather agency official explained that the forecast on the entry of the rainy season has been based on three criteria: presence of “heat lows” commonly known as LPAs, prevailing southeast monsoon and continuous rains for five days, producing 25-millimeter rainfall.

Dalida explained that the series of ITCZs prevailing in Mindanao and the Visayas will also affect Bicol since the agency weather instrument shows a possible rising trend of the ITCZs from the Visayas to Bicol.

An ITCZ produces LPAs which are breeding grounds for tropical depressions, storms and typhoons, according to him.Bicol experienced a good weather from January to May despite three weather depressions (Auring, Bising and Crising) that have hit the Visayas and Mindanao areas since January this year, Dalida said.

“As we assess the series of ITCZ lines, there seems to be a rising trend that it may pass the region and in effect, we expect the rainy days to take place beginning June,” he added.

He recalled that the Bicol region has been spared from typhoons for about seven years now since Super Typhoon Reming in 2006, but with the seemingly rising trend of the weather events, Dalida cautioned disaster authorities to be prepared for emergency measures.

The local weather bureau here estimates that one to two weather disturbances will occur this June, while three to four weather events will take place in July and another three to four in August.

All these events will pass Mindanao and the Visayas regions and will affect Bicol.

In Albay, Albay Gov. Joey Salceda, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council chair, has put in place a strategic disaster plan that will improve evacuation procedures in times of heavy rain, typhoon and other calamity that would befell the province.

“My directive for APSEMO (Albay Provincial Safety and Emergency Management Office) to make adjustments in their disaster preparedness strategy with emphasis on community-based evacuation,” Salceda said.

He said the province’s disaster operation will focus on the much-vaunted preemptive evacuation process to meet the “zero casualty” objective which, according to him, has been proven effective preparedness measure in times of disaster.

This weather situation might trigger floods, lahar flows and landslides, endangering the lives of villagers living in low-lying areas, mountain ranges, river banks and coastal areas.

PDRRMC data reveal that there are 35,766 families or 168,509 people living in flood and lahar-prone areas, 40,173 household in 116 villages are in landslide areas while 20,549 families or 102,745 people are living at the foot of Mayon volcano.

Salceda said the province has a total population of 1.2 million.

Of this total, 471,254 people are at risk of being hit by floods, lahar flows, landslides and volcanic eruptions.

At the height of Tropical Storm Dante in 2009, heavy rains hit the province, triggering 91 landslides in 18 villages of eight towns in Albay.

Floods submerged villages in this city and the towns of Libon, Polangui, Oas and Ligao City.

Disaster authorities implemented pre-emptive evacuation, transferring a total of 45,900 villagers living in low-lying and mountainous areas affected by floodings and landslides.

Typhoon Reming hit Albay in 2006, claiming the lives of over a thousand people.

Some 923,674 people in Albay were affected by the devastation.(PNA)

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