Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. yesterday said the Negros Occidental provincial government and its towns and cities are now on high alert status as super typhoon “Yolanda”, which is likely to hit northern Negros, entered the country last night.
The governor again called on Negrenses to pray that the typhoon changes direction and spares Negros Occidental.
Some local governments in northern Negros Occidental have cancelled classes today.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said that, as of 10 last night, the eye of “Yolanda” was located 1,110-kilometer east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, with maximum sustained winds of 195 kph near the center and gustiness of up to 230 kph.
It is forecast to move west northwest at 30 kph, and is expected to be at 423-km east southeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar tonight, at 55 km southeast of Romblon Island tomorrow evening, and at 527 km west northwest of Coron, Palawan on Saturday.
Pubic storm warning number 1 was hoisted over Northern Samar, Eastern Samar, Samar, Leyte, Southern Leyte, Biliran Island and Camotes Island in the Visayas, and in Surigao Del Norte, including Siargao Island, Dinagat Island, Surigao Del Sur, Agusan Del Norte and northern part of Agusan Del Sur in Mindanao.
Vicente Malano, PAGASA officer-in-charge, said “Yolanda,” will be the strongest typhoon in the Visayas for this year.
Marañon said that if Yolanda continues its present path, it will hit northern Negros by noon tomorrow.
CALL FOR PRAYER
“We are calling Negrenses to pray to ask God to spare the province from the super typhoon by diverting its path,” he said.
Marañon said he has called on the mayors, especially in northern Negros Occidental, to prepare their evacuation centers.
The provincial government is also restocking on its food relief assistance for typhoon victims, he added.
Eric Villaluna, head of the Provincial Disaster Management Team, said that if the typhoon does not change course, signal number four could be hoisted over Negros Occidental.
In Bacolod City, Mayor Monico Puentevella and the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council have advised the public to brace for “Yolanda”.
“We have to prepare for what seems to be one of the biggest typhoons of 2013,” Puentevella said.
But the public should not panic and should “act normal unless an announcement is made,” he added.
“The whole City Hall is ready and we are prepared to face this one big fight against Yolanda,” Puentevella said.
Weather reports will be the basis for determining whether classes will be suspended, he said.
Residents living in high-risk areas may also be asked to evacuate ahead of Yolanda’s arrival as a precaution, he said.
Volunteer groups, the Bacolod City Police Office, the City Health Office and the Department of Education, under schools superintendent Gemma Ledesma, have also been tapped to help, he added.
Public schools will be used as evacuation centers if needed, the press release said.
City DRRMO volunteer Rufino Alcala said basic needs such as food, flashlights, medicines and radios should be prepared by the public while private offices and companies are also advised to check their generators and first aid kits.
The public may call the City DRRMO at 432-3809 for further information.
Victorias Mayor Francis Frederick Palanca and Toboso Mayor Richard Jaojoco yesterday said they have cancelled elementary and high school classes in their areas as a precaution.
They said flooding could occur and would endanger the lives of school children.
Sagay Mayor Alfredo Marañon III said he will cancel classes in his city on Friday.
San Carlos Mayor Gerardo Valmayor said he will meet with the City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council this morning to evaluate the situation.
Vice Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson also called on Negrenses “to ask the Good Lord that the super typhoon will not hit Negros.”
“Let us be together in prayers and ask that we will be spared again by this super typhoon,” Lacson said, adding that he hopes “Yolanda” will weaken even before reaching Samar.
A text message circulating yesterday in Negros also contained a prayer for God to spare the Visayas from the super typhoon.
The prayer called on God to take control of Typhoon Yolanda and divert it to the sea.
“We implore You to embrace us, the Bicol and Visayas Region and calm Typhoon Yolanda as you did with your disciples at the middle of the sea,” the prayer said.*CPG