‘NONA’ GAINS STRENGTH, HEADS TOWARDS SAMAR, BICOL

LEGAZPI CITY — Severe tropical storm “Nona” continues to gain strength as it heads towards the Samar-Bicol area, prompting the local weather bureau to raise the alert status to Signal No. 1 in the provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Sorsogon and Masbate, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) said on Sunday.

The Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) issued a “no sail” policy in various ports across Bicol as a preventive measure after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration raised its storm warning signal to No. 1.

Quoting a PCG report, the Office of Civil Defense-Bicol said that as of 7 a.m. Sunday, 600 passengers and 45 trucks and buses bound for Samar were stranded in Matnog Port in Sorsogon.

The provinces of Albay and Camarines Sur have suspended classes in all levels on Monday.

The Department of Health (DOH)-Bicol has gone on Code White (Standby Alert) since Friday.

It has activated its Operation Center, which is operating on a round-the-clock basis and prepositioned assorted drugs and medicines, including logistics, amounting to PhP564,560 each for the DOH provincial offices.

It also made available a buffer stock worth PhP12 million of assorted drugs, medicines and supplies.

In Albay, the Provincial DRRMC issued an advisory preventing small passenger seacraft and fishing vessels not to sail due to the raising of the storm signal.

Residents living along river channels were advised not to cross swelling rivers.

Gov. Joey Sarte Salceda directed all local disaster councils to convene and to assess the hazards and risks, evaluate their capabilities on local warning, communication, transportation, security, health and relief — ready for activation upon the need in preparation for evacuation to counter lahar along the Mayon Volcano gullies, flash flood near the river systems, coastal flooding and storm surge, and landslides along slopes. Mar S. Arguelles/PNA