Several churches in the southern and central Philippines have opened its doors on Wednesday, December 15, to people who will be affected by typhoon Rai (local name: Odette).
In its morning bulletin, the state weather bureau Pagasa said “Odette” carries maximum sustained winds of up to 120 kilometers per hour with gustiness up to 150 km/h.
The typhoon is expected to intensify further over the Philippine Sea before making landfall in Caraga or Eastern Visayas on Thursday afternoon or evening, December 16.
Father Denish Ilogon, social action head of the Diocese of Surigao, said parishes have been preparing for the typhoon and have opened churches to serve as evacuation ceners.
“We have also instructed parishes to allow the use of church facilities in case there’s a need for additional evacuation centers,” said the priest in an interview over Church-run Radio Veritas 846.
In Cagayan De Oro, also in Mindanao, officials of the archdiocese’s social action centers have been meeting to prepare for the impact of the typhoon.
“We hope that the impact of ‘Odette’ will not be as bad,” said Father Bong Galas, social action director. The priest said the city has been experiencing rains already early on Wednesday.
The priest said people in the archdiocese have a “phobia” of typhoons because of the destructions they witnessed in the past.
In the Eastern Visayas region, authorities have activated all disaster incident management task groups and suspended all land travel coming from and to Luzon and Mindanao.
The Police Regional Office 8 also readied 1,581 police personnel on standby alert for Search, Rescue, and Retrieval purposes and 666 personnel as Reactionary Standby Support Force.
“Let us all be ready and prepared anytime,” said Brigadier General Rommel Bernardo Cabagnot. “I appeal to the public to be mindful of the warnings and cooperate with the evacuation if necessary,” he added.
Karen Tiopes, regional tourism director, also directed its industry partners “to take precautionary measures to ensure the safety of lives and security of property.”
In the province of Negros Occidental in the central Philippines, authorities placed several areas under “red alert” on Wednesday for the possible onslaught of “Odette.”
A “red alert” is raised in anticipation of an imminent emergency and requires response agency staffing in the operations center and immediate inter-agency coordination. – with a report from Ronald Reyes