Onyok threatens Caraga region

Ghio Ong, Helen Flores - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - The state weather bureau yesterday advised residents of Mindanao to brace for heavy rains from Tropical Depression Onyok, which is forecast to hit the Caraga region today.

Onyok, the 15th tropical cyclone to enter the country this year and the second weather disturbance this month, is expected to make landfall over the Caraga region this afternoon or evening.

Authorities have placed the populous Davao City under blue alert for Onyok.

As of 5 p.m. yesterday, public storm warning signal No. 1 was raised over Surigao del Sur, including Siargao Island, Surigao del Norte, Dinagat province, Misamis Oriental, Camiguin, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, Compostela Valley and Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur and Misamis Occidental.

These areas can experience rains with gusty winds in the next 36 hours.

A resident of Barangay Buhang, Bulusan, Sorsogon arranges her belongings after her house was hit by Typhoon Nona earlier this week. EDD GUMBAN

Jori Loiz, senior weather forecaster of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said Onyok could intensify into a storm before it hits landmass.

As of 4 p.m., the center of Onyok was located at 515 km east of Hinatuan, Surigao del Sur, packing winds of 55 kilometers per hour near the center. It is forecast to move west at 15 kph, PAGASA said. 

Loiz said Onyok is projected to bring moderate to heavy rains within its 100-km diameter this weekend.

Residents in low lying and mountainous areas of the provinces with under signal No. 1 were warned against possible flashfloods and landslides.  

“Even if it is not a strong cyclone, it could still bring heavy rains,” Loiz warned.

Onyok, however, is not expected to affect Luzon and Visayas, the areas battered by Typhoon Nona (international name Melor) in the past days.

No more Nona

Nona, which weakened into a low-pressure area earlier, had dissipated yesterday afternoon.

However, the northeast monsoon, enhanced by Nona, will continue to bring light to moderate rains and isolated thunderstorms over Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon this weekend, PAGASA said.

PAGASA also continued to advise fisherfolk against venturing out to the northern, western and eastern seaboards of Luzon due to the northeast monsoon.

Onyok, on the other hand, is forecast to leave the country on Sunday.

Loiz said PAGASA does not expect a new weather disturbance to form within and outside the PAR until next week or on Christmas Day.

Nona, which made five landfalls in Visayas and Luzon, left at least 20 people dead.

Regional police spokesperson Supt. Imelda Tolentino said 12 fatalities were reported from the provinces of Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro and Romblon.

There were other reports of fatalities, including a female Army officer who was buried in a landslide in Infanta, Quezon, and a 50-year-old man who drowned in Batangas.

The Army officer identified as 2Lt. Michelle Mae Delariarte was buried in a landslide in Infanta last Wednesday. Three other soldiers were hurt in the incident.

Delariarte, a civil-military operations officer of the Army’s 1st Infantry Battalion, was carrying Christmas gifts for poor communities in the area when her vehicle was caught in a landslide during the heavy rains brought by Nona.

In Batangas, Fernando Cos, a caretaker in Polo Island owned by the Levistes, reportedly drowned after being thrown overboard from a boat.

Field offices of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) reported an increase in the total fatalities from 12 to 20.

The death count may have been much higher had the national and local government units failed to carry out preemptive evacuations of some 165,544 families or 742,991 persons in Eastern Visayas, Bicol region and Southern Luzon, disaster officials said.

As of yesterday, a total of 1,250 families or 7,855 persons are still staying in government-run evacuation centers in Oriental Mindoro.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said a number of evacuees from the total of 77, 577 families have returned to their homes as the weather improved yesterday.

Nona also left some P57 million worth of damage to infrastructure, according to the Department of Public Works and Highways.

The Department of Agriculture meanwhile declared damage in the agricultural sector brought by Nona reached P733 million, covering 20,309 hectares of agricultural areas with estimated production loss of 35,533 metric tons.

Most of the reported damage came from the typhoon affected areas of Region 4B and Bicol region.

Northern Samar, which bore the brunt of typhoon Nona in its first landfall, was placed under a state of calamity.

Globe Telecom Inc. said it has restored mobile services in Catarman, Northern Samar. 

In excess

 Due to heavy rains triggered by Nona, four dams in Luzon – Angat and Ipo in Bulacan and Ambuklao and Binga in Benguet – opened gates yesterday to release excess water.

PAGASA hydrologist Richard Orendain, however, said there were no reported floodings due to the opening of floodgates as of yesterday afternoon.

Orendain however warned residents of Pampanga and Bulacan against possible flooding as floodwaters from upland provinces could flow down to these areas in three days.

“We expect flooding to hit parts of Pampanga and Bulacan in three days just like what happened in October when Typhoon Lando dumped heavy rains over Central Luzon,” he said.

The monsoon rains brought by Nona also affected several areas in Central and Northern Luzon.

The Angat Dam and Bustos Dam in Bulacan have released excess water after reaching critical level yesterday.

The Magat Dam in Isabela also released excess water after reaching spilling level.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Office of Isabela said the water level at Magat Dam breached 190 meters.

Officials warned the continuous rains could force the overflow of the dam threatening Tuguegarao City and other towns of Isabela and Cagayan. –Jaime Laude, Alexis Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Edith Regalado, Ding Cervantes, Mayen Jaymalin, Arnell Ozaeta, Evelyn Macairan, Ramon Efren Lazaro, Raymund Catindig, Louise Maureen Simeon, Rainier Allan Ronda, Louella Desiderio













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