Local governments in Metro Manila and its environs are preparing for the worst against Super Typhoon “Ompong” and have marshaled their resources to protect their citizens ahead of the storm’s expected landfall on Saturday.
In the City of Manila, the city government’s frontline services have been deployed in strategic parts of the capital.
Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada met with officials of Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, Manila Health Department, Engineering Department of Public Services, Manila Police District, Bureau of Fire Protection, barangay officials, and non-government organizations as they formed contingency units to assist affected families.
Estrada underscored that “readiness and preparation” are the most important things to do to lessen damage and loss of lives.
The city chief executive directed all Manila department officials to take an inventory of the equipment available in case they are needed and identify areas to be affected, among others.
The mayor also instructed city government officials that will be tasked to man the operations center.
“All the necessary equipment, including food and water. have been stored at the evacuation centers in Baseco, Delpan, and Delpan Sports Complex,” Estrada said.
Other evacuation centers are the Corazon Aquino High School in Baseco, Vicente Lim Elementary School, Almario Elementary School, Villegas High School in Vitas, and the covered court in Brgy 105, as well as health centers stocked with medicines.
The mayor is targeting zero casualties for the city since Manila is a low area and floods are expected to hit low-lying areas.
“Always listen to the news. We must be ready with our first aid kits and flashlights, and pray for protection,” Estrada said.
The Taguig City government has also stepped up preparations as “Ompong” entered the Philippine Area of Responsibility on Wednesday.
The city government also ordered all building owners and locators in the city to secure all billboards, advertising signages and heavy equipment like cranes, as these could pose dangers to the public with strong winds and heavy rains anticipated for the weather disturbance.
“We want to encourage everyone to please remain calm and to continue praying for everyone’s safety. Rest assured that the city is doing its best to keep every Taguigeño safe in times of calamities,” said Mayor Laarni Cayetano.
Erwin Palima, head of the city’s Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office said boats, trucks and other rescue vehicles have already been prepositioned for the rescue, and preemptive and forced evacuations of affected residents.
Vests, ropes, cutters, shovels, megaphones and other pertinent items are also ready, he added.
Eugene Bilaw, officer-in-charge of the city’s Solid Waste Management Office, said that even if clearing operations of creeks have been ongoing once a week ― daily for the Lake and River Management Office ― heavy equipment used to dredge these have also been placed on standby.
In Pampanga, Mt. Arayat and other mountains prone to landslides in Central Luzon are being closely monitored.
Director Mariou Salazar of the Office of the Civil Defence, who is also chairperson of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, said the manpower, equipment and food packages are now positioned in different areas for any eventuality.
The Department of Social Welfare Development regional office has prepared 13,000 food packs for the potential typhoon victims, while additional relief goods will be shouldered by the local government units in the area as provided for by the law, Salazar added.
Noel Lacadin, chief of the Mines Geoscience Bureau, in Central Luzon, said other areas being monitored for landslides are Gabaldon-Laur in Nueva Ecija, the Dinalupihan-Olongapo area and barangay Paltic in Dingalan, Aurora.
The areas prone to landslide, especially during continuous heavy rains, are also where residents refuse to leave the areas despite government efforts of preemptive evacuations.