By Dolly Yasa
BACOLOD City – Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson and Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia on Thursday morning ordered the suspension of government works in their respective jurisdictions after both areas were placed under Storm Signal No. 3 due to tropical storm “Odette.”
Work in all city government offices were suspended 12 p.m. Thursday and on Friday as Bacolod braces for “Odette,” Leonardia ordered.
The limited face-to-face classes at the Alangilan National High School on Thursday and Friday were also suspended as the Bacolod City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office tonight identified vulnerable communities that may be under threat from “Odette” (international name Rai).
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) already placed the entire Negros Island under Signal No. 3 as super Typhoon “Odette”, which is 340 kilometers (km) wide, packs maximum sustained winds of 130 km per hour (kph) near the center and gustiness of up to 160 kph with central pressure of 970 hPa.
The cancelation of work in city government agencies and face-to-face classes at ANHS were contained in Executive Order No. 61 which Leonardia signed and issued on Dec. 15.
In a memorandum issued 10:30 am Thursday, Lacson ordered the suspension of work at the capitol from 2 p.m. onwards.
Quoting the PAGASA bulletin, Executive Assistant Joemarie Vargas said the typhoon was moving west northwestward at 25 kph and was estimated at 485 kms east of Surigao del Sur as of 4 p.m.
Leonardia and Novero batted for possible pre-emptive evacuation of residents in high-risk areas should the situation deteriorate.
Vargas said rescue units are prepared for such eventuality, adding that the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office (CDRRMO) emergency command center based at the old City Hall had been on 24-hour shift since Tuesday to monitor the movement of “Odette.”
Initially, the city government readied 373 classrooms as evacuation centers but plans to increase the number today, Dec 17.
Before the meeting, Leonardia inspected the DRRMO equipment, ambulances, rescue trucks, as well as the standby generator sets that will be distributed to different evacuation centers.
He also ordered the Department of Services and Development to speed up inventory of relief packs, food assistance and hygiene kits for distribution.
Councilor Lady Gles Pallen, president of Liga ng mga Barangay, said her office already initiated text blast messaging to all barangay captains Tuesday evening telling them to activate their respective BDRRM Councils and prepare for “Odette” that is expected to cross over Negros-Panay area today before heading towards Palawan.
The CDRRMO issued a warning to coastal communities and residential areas near bodies of water for possible surges.
At least 15 villages have been identified as “areas of concern” –Bata and Banago which straddle Banago Creek; Barangay 1 and Purok Carvic, Mandalagan because of Mandalagan Creek; Barangays 2, 8, 10 and 12 which are situated along Mambulok Creek; Barangays 27, 40, Taculing and Singcang-Airport which are along Magsungay River; Barangays Alijis, Mansilingan and Singcang-Airport due to Lupit River, and the coastal area of Barangay Pahanocoy that lies along Pahanocoy Creek.