MANILA, Philippines — Thousands were evacuated or were stranded as Tropical Storm Auring dumped heavy rains, spawning floods and landslides as it moved across Mindanao and the Visayas over the weekend.
Flights were suspended as the first tropical cyclone of the year entered the country. Auring (international name Dujuan) could bring rains over Metro Manila and nearby areas today.
As of noon yesterday, the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) said 4,246 people that consisted of passengers, drivers and cargo helpers had been left stranded in various seaports across the country.
Thirty-six domestic flights of Philippine Airlines have been canceled from Saturday until today, along with sea trips in Dumangas going to Iloilo, Bacolod to San Carlos and all sea trips in Central Visayas.
Malacañang urged residents in affected areas to take the necessary precautions.
“We ask the public, especially residents of affected areas, to remain vigilant, be prepared and ready for possible evacuation in case their local authorities advise them to do so as a precautionary measure,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.
“We likewise urge everyone to regularly check the latest weather advisories and other information related to Tropical Storm Auring,” Roque added.
The government has been providing relief to affected areas. He said the social welfare department has relief stockpiles and standby funds worth more than P1.2 billion in its central office, field offices and National Resource Operations Center, according to the Palace spokesman.
The health department has prepositioned P19.5 million worth of medicines, medical supplies and health kits in its health development centers, he added.
The PCG has also sent its deployable response groups in affected areas to assist in evacuation or rescue operations.
There were also 75 vessels; one motorized boat; and 1,804 rolling cargoes stranded in Northern Mindanao, Northeastern Mindanao, Eastern Visayas, Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Bicol Region due to the storm.
The PCG also said 94 vessels and 56 motorized boats took shelter as a precautionary measure.
“We are closely monitoring Tropical Storm Auring and the communities on its track,” Roque said.
Rains and flooding brought by Auring has affected 5,475 people or 1,410 families in the Davao Region and Caraga Region.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said 5,054 individuals or 1,297 families have been brought to 37 evacuation centers, while the rest have sought temporary shelter at the homes of their relatives and friends.
As of yesterday, three roads and a bridge in Southern Leyte, Leyte and Davao de Oro have been declared not passable due to flooding.
Noting that rescue operations are top priority in affected areas, the NDRRMC said 44 houses were partially damaged in the provinces of Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur.
Incessant heavy rains have caused massive floodings and landslides in several areas in Eastern Mindanao yesterday even before Auring has yet to make landfall.
Thousands were evacuated to safer grounds as massive flooding hit almost the entire Tandag City in Surigao del Sur yesterday.
Power outages were reported in the provinces in the eastern board of Mindanao, especially Tandag, where floodwaters reportedly have reached rooftops of the houses in the area.
Floods were also reported in several areas in Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur.
Heavy rains also caused landslides in the towns of Monkayo and New Bataan as well as Maragusan in Davao de Oro.
Landslides were also reported in certain areas in Davao Oriental, including the capital Mati City.
Several roads in affected areas of Davao de Oro, Davao Oriental, Surigao del Sur, Surigao de Norte as well as the Agusan provinces have also been rendered impassable by floods and the landslides.
Heavy rains also caused flooding and landslides in Dinagat Island where people were advised against sea travel.
Local government units in affected areas have mobilized their respective emergency and disaster reponse teams to attend to the evacuees and other affected families and individuals.
People in Eastern Mindanao were still bracing for the actual landfall of Auring anytime last night or early this morning.
President Duterte flew back to Manila last night just in time for Auring’s expected landfall in Mindanao.
Duterte flew on a private jet after spending a week in Davao City for a series of engagements.
The Chief Executive returned to Manila in time for the weekly Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, afterwhich, he shall address the nation on important issues such as COVID-19 vaccines.
While the President was in Davao, he was kept abreast of what was happening in areas affected by the massive floodings, landslides and power outages.
Meanwhile, Auring accelerated as it moved toward the Eastern Visayas-Caraga area yesterday, bringing heavy rains and strong winds over some parts of Visayas and Mindanao.
As of 5 p.m. yesterday, Tropical Cyclone Wind Signal no. 2 was hoisted over central and southern portions of Eastern Samar, central and southern portions of Samar, the eastern portion of Leyte, eastern portion of Southern Leyte, Dinagat Islands and Surigao del Norte, including Siargao and Bucas Grande Islands.
Signal no. 1 was raised over Sorsogon, Masbate including Ticao and Burias Islands, Albay, Catanduanes, eastern portion of Camarines Sur, eastern portion of Romblon, Northern Samar, rest of Eastern Samar, rest of Samar, Biliran, rest of Leyte, rest of Southern Leyte, Cebu, Bohol, Siquijor, Negros Oriental, northern and central portions of Negros Occidental, northern and central portions of Iloilo, Capiz, Guimaras and eastern portion of Aklan.
Also placed under signal no. 1 were Surigao del Sur, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Davao Oriental, Davao de Oro, Davao del Norte, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental and Bukidnon.
The storm may initially make landfall over the Dinagat Islands-Eastern Samar area this morning, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
Moderate to heavy rains are expected over Bicol, Marinduque, Northern Samar, Eastern Samar and Samar today.
Light to moderate to at times heavy rains, on the other hand, will prevail over the rest of Visayas, Bicol, Mimaropa (Mindoro provinces, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan), Quezon, Aurora, Isabela and Cagayan.
PAGASA senior weather forecaster Chris Perez said Auring’s winds may topple electric posts and damage houses made of light materials.
Perez also warned against floods and landslides, particularly in areas that have been experiencing rains in the past days.
Auring was forecast to maintain its strength in the next 12 hours. The likelihood of weakening into a tropical depression before it makes landfall, however, has not yet been ruled out, PAGASA said.
After landfall, Auring is likely to weaken into a low pressure area within 48 hours.
As of 4 p.m. the center of Auring was estimated at 355 kilometers east of Surigao City, Surigao del Norte, packing winds of 65 kilometers per hour near the center and gustiness of up to 80 kph.
It was moving northwest at 20 kph.
Prior to landfall, Auring brought strong winds and moderate to heavy rains over Caraga, Eastern Visayas, Misamis Oriental, Bukidnon, Camiguin, Catanduanes, Albay, and Sorsogon yesterday.
Light to moderate to at times heavy rains, meanwhile, were experienced over Zamboanga Peninsula, Mimaropa, Davao Oriental, Davao de Oro, Quezon and the rest of Bicol Region, Visayas, and Northern Mindanao.
The weather bureau also warned against rough to very rough seas of up to 4.5 meters over the seaboards of areas under tropical cyclone wind signals due to the combined effects of Auring and the surge of the northeast monsoon.
Rough seas will also prevail over the southern seaboard of Luzon, including the eastern seaboard of Palawan, the remaining seaboards of Visayas, and the northern, eastern and western seaboards of Mindanao that are not under any TCWS.
“Sea travel is risky for all types of sea vessels over these waters,” PAGASA said. – Evelyn Macairan, Michael Punongbayan, Edith Regalado, Helen Flores