Storm Pepito causes flooding, landslides
Debris blocking a road in Guinayangan municipality.
STAR/File
Storm Pepito causes flooding, landslides
Helen Flores (The Philippine Star) - October 21, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Heavy rains spawned by Tropical Storm Pepito (international name Saudel) triggered floods and landslides in some parts of the country yesterday ahead of its forecast landfall in the Aurora-Isabela area.

Pepito, the country’s 16th cyclone this year, gathered more strength as it barreled toward Aurora-Isabela area yesterday afternoon.

It was forecast to make landfall over these areas between 6 p.m. and 11 p.m. yesterday, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said.

As of 5 p.m., Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal No. 2 was raised over Aurora, Benguet, Ifugao, La Union, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Pangasinan, Quirino and Tarlac as well as in the southern portions of Isabela and Ilocos Sur and the northern portions of Quezon province and Zambales.

Signal No. 1 was hoisted over Metro Manila as well as in the provinces of Abra, Bataan, Bulacan, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Pampanga and Rizal as well as in the rest of the northern portion of Quezon and the rest of Zambales.

Heavy rains brought by Pepito triggered a landslide in Guinayangan, Quezon. Authorities said several rivers have also overflowed due to heavy rains.

As of 4 p.m. yesterday, the center of the storm was spotted 110 kilometers east of Baler, Aurora, packing winds of 75 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 90 kph.

Pepito was forecast to move west northwest at 30 kph. It was expected to exit Luzon landmass this morning.

Pepito is likely to intensify into a severe tropical storm tomorrow, PAGASA said.

Weather forecaster Ariel Rojas said Pepito has a huge diameter, bringing rains over most of the country.

Pepito will continue to bring moderate to heavy rains over Benguet, Central Luzon, Camarines Norte, Isabela, La Union, Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan), Nueva Vizcaya, Pangasinan, Quezon province and Quirino as well as in mainland Cagayan this morning.

Light to moderate to at times heavy rains will persist over Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, Western Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula as well as in the Bangsamoro region.

Pepito was forecast to exit the Philippine area of responsibility tomorrow morning or afternoon.

Ready

The city government of San Juan activated its disaster response measures in preparation for Pepito.

Mayor Francis Zamora ordered the San Juan Gymnasium set up as the city’s main evacuation center should heavy rains inundate low-lying areas.

Zamora ordered barangay captains to mobilize their personnel and establish evacuation centers.

He urged residents to remain vigilant and ready for possible evacuation.

In Pangasinan, Gov. Amado Espino III ordered the mayors to prepare for Pepito and prevent fishing boats and other small sea craft from venturing out to the sea.

The mayors were also told to identify alternative evacuation centers as some have been converted into quarantine facilities for COVID-19 patients.

Espino said proper occupancy rate should be maintained in evacuation centers to avoid violation of social distancing.

In Pampanga, the province’s disaster risk reduction and management council was on full alert as Pepito was expected to hit Central Luzon last night.

Gov. Dennis Pineda gave assurance that disaster responses were in place to cushion the impact of the typhoon.

Pre-emptive evacuation

In Quezon province, up to 1,000 families were evacuated to safer grounds even before Pepito could make landfall.

Heavy rains triggered landslides in several villages in Guinayangan town, blocking portions of the road with rocks and mud.

Other villages were inundated after a river swelled due to continuous rains.

Disaster risk management officials were monitoring the number of evacuees in high-risk areas such as in the towns of Calauag, General Luna and Lopez. – Emmanuel Tupas, Eva Visperas, Ric Sapnu, Michelle Zoleta

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