Signal No. 1 raised over central, northern Cebu due to ‘Dante’

CEBU Province was placed under “blue alert” status on Tuesday, June 1, 2021, as the weather bureau Pagasa placed the central and northern portion of the island and other parts of the Visayas under Signal No. 1 because of tropical storm Dante.

Personnel assigned in local disaster risk reduction and management offices in Aloguinsan, Balamban, Bogo City, Borbon, Carcar City, Carmen, Catmon, all towns in the Camotes Group of Islands, Cebu City, Compostela, Cordova, Consolacion, Cebu City, Daanbantayan, Danao City, Lapu-Lapu City, Liloan, Madridejos, Mandaue City, Medellin, Minglanilla, City of Naga, Pinamungajan, San Fernando, San Remigio, San Francisco, Sta. Fe, Sogod, Tabogon, Tabuelan, Talisay City, Toledo City, Tuburan and the towns in Bantayan Island have been on standby to respond to any untoward incident.

As of Tuesday morning, scattered rainshowers with moderate winds were felt in some parts of southern Cebu.

Neil Sanchez, Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head, urged local government units (LGUs) to remain vigilant and continue monitoring areas that are prone to flooding and landslides.

He also urged LGUs to implement forced evacuation in areas where the risk of landslides and flooding is high.

“Hopefully, nothing bad will happen because of the rains, but still we are focusing on aiming at zero casualty as much as possible,” Sanchez said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

A total of 166 passengers were stranded in ports in central Cebu, while 97 others were stranded in northern Cebu after several boat trips were canceled because of tropical storm Dante.

Most of those affected were headed to Bantayan and Camotes Islands.

Coast Guard Station Central Cebu acting commander Alvin Dagalea said 30 rolling cargoes in central Cebu and 101 others in northern Cebu were also not allowed to sail. A total of 17 other vessels and 17 motorbancas ended up taking shelter, he said.

Jhomer Eclarino, Pagasa-Mactan station weather specialist, said the signal warning could be lifted in Cebu on Wednesday.

“Visayas’ weather condition, mostly in Cebu, is critical today until tomorrow (Wednesday). We can experience moderate to heavy rains, and flashfloods and landslides are possible in prone areas. We will also have moderate to rough sea condition with the wave height of 1.2 to 3.0 meters,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

All sea trips are automatically temporarily suspended in areas under Signal No. 1, he said.

He said the country is still in a transition period from hot to rainy season, adding that the hot season has not officially ended.

“We are still continuously monitoring. Though we can already observe that there is already the southwest component in the wind, one of the criteria to declare the rainy season,” Eclarino said.

Pagasa, as of its 5 p.m. bulletin on Tuesday, said Dante had slightly weakened as it continued to move north, northwest closer to Eastern Samar.

As of 4 p.m., the center of Dante was at 85 kilometers east, northeast of Guiuan, Eastern Samar.

It had maximum sustained winds of 65 kilometers per hour.

In Mandaue City, Buddy Ybañez, head of the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (CDRRMO), said they and the Command Center had been monitoring bodies of water in the city, particularly the Butuanon River.

As of press time, Ybañez said the river’s current was fast-flowing and there was no sign of the water level rising. However, he said they will still be on alert.

If the water level of the Butuanon River rises, Ybañez said, they will sound the early warning system to inform residents living along the riverbanks to evacuate and proceed to evacuation centers.

He said they cannot afford to wait for residents to be forcibly evacuated as they don’t have enough manpower. Also, it may endanger the lives of residents and responders.

He said the Command Center has also been monitoring roads for traffic accidents.

In Lapu-Lapu City, officials didn’t suspend trips from the Angasil Port in Barangay Mactan to Olango Island until Tuesday night.

Nagiel Bañacia, who heads the CDRRMO, said there was no need to during the day since the weather was still favorable.

He said the City has prepared food packs to give to stranded passengers.

Bañacia said tropical storm Dante’s arrival will also give them a chance to showcase the training of their 20 new responders who are currently assigned in Olango Island.

The 20 new responders graduated from their two-week training last week. (WBS, KFD, ANV, GCM / JKV)